Jay Austin was, on the surface, a successful used car salesman. Unfortunately, his sales techniques were less than honorable. He made promises he couldn’t keep, cheated people, and said whatever was necessary to make the sale.
Two of his employees had learned well how to use those same dishonest techniques.
As I said, it looked like he was doing well on the surface. He was moving a lot of cars and bringing in a lot of money. But he was buried in debt.
One day, the bank called him and requested a meeting. Jay was told that he had 30 days to pay off his loan or the bank was going to foreclose on the business.
Not only were there problems with the business, but there were struggles going on within his family as well. He was too proud to admit it was his fault. He wanted to blame others for his problems,
But his wife and son both knew that they could not trust his word when he said he was going to do something. They knew about his dishonesty. He pridefully tried to cover it up. Occasionally, he would attend church with them, but not often. Other times, he mocked the idea of going to church.
But the bottom was dropping out. It looked like he was going to lose his business. But his wife had been praying for him.
On the Right Path
One day, he saw a church service on TV. He decided that his way of doing things wasn’t working, so he confessed to the Lord. He admitted his dishonesty, and his lack of support for his family, and told God that he wanted to change.
He thought he was done, that God would be merciful and he could move forward from that point.
But something happened inside of Jay because he really had changed. He realized that he couldn’t continue with his dishonest business practices. Would the Lord rescue him?
(KJV) Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. 3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
(KJV) 5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Lean Not on Your Own Understanding
So Jay started off by following the steps in the passage in Proverbs. He told God that he didn’t know how, but he was going to quit cheating people and instruct his employees to stop as well.
Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” The Bible says that the greatest commandment is “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”(Matthew 22:37) With everything within you.
You can come to Christ just as you are, but if you really meet Him, you don’t leave the same as when you arrived. Something starts working in your life.
The Bible says that there’s a change and we start to bear fruit. It also says that some do better than others. Some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, some a hundredfold.
Sometimes the change is obvious and immediate. People see the change and want to know what’s happened. Other times, depending on past challenges, the fruit takes longer to ripen.
Lean not on your own understanding.
Jay was trusting God with all his heart. But he didn’t know how to glorify God in bringing in money. His former practices of lying and scheming weren’t going to work anymore.
His employees were doubtful. They knew that there wouldn’t be as much money coming in as before. They also realized that they’d be losing money on their commissions. That was a big concern for them. They didn’t want to go along with this new plan, but Jay pushed for them to be honest.
If it happened that they were not honest, Jay would go to the customer himself and make it right. He continued his new practice of being honest. In some cases, he realized he had to go back and return money to some former customers.
Even though he had 30 days to come up with the money for the bank, he continued in his new course of honesty. He had made a commitment to God and intended to honor it. He decided to not lean on his own understanding.
That’s something we all need to do. Our understanding is shaped not by the Bible, but by the world. That’s why it’s so important to study the Scriptures. It ought to become a part of our lives. We need to get away from our own understanding and into God’s understanding.
When you become a parent, you have this tiny human who has been given to you, and it dawns on you that this is an enormous responsibility. Where’s the instruction manual? What you do is fall back on what you know, what you have seen, or how your parents raised you. That can be good. Your parents may have been instructed in the ways of the Lord and had the mind to follow Him.
But maybe you had parents who didn’t follow God’s leading and just muddled through and didn’t make good decisions.
Then there are parents who the world may say that they have no business being parents. Then your resolve will be not to be like your parents. The problem there is that you keep focusing on them and whatever you focus on affects you. So lean not on your own understanding but lean on the promises of God.
Good News/Bad News
A local news outlet decided to do an undercover investigation of used car dealers. They sent a reporter in to pose as a potential employee. The employees who weren’t happy with Jay’s new system got fed up and left and began working for a competitor.
The news outlet went and interviewed the two and they told stories of how Jay used to run his business and how dishonest he used to be.
So the report came out. It wasn’t good. Jay told God, “Lord, I’m trusting you. I’m changing my life. I don’t understand how this is going to work.”
How to Know That You Are Making Good Decisions
Years ago, in the first decade of our marriage, we were living in Georgia. We had several decisions to make. Our desire was to always be in God’s will.
A flyer came to our house about a conference that was going to be in Atlanta. One of the bullet points was “how to know you’re in the will of God.” While I was looking at the new material, that one point really stood out to me.
That one session was the main reason I went. It was a week-long conference. Day after day, they didn’t cover that one topic. Finally, Thursday night was the day for the “Will of God” session. He spoke for 30 minutes or so on most of the advertised topics, but when he came to this one, he was running short on time, and he only spoke on it for a few minutes, probably only two or three; however, it was long enough and I got the answer I was seeking. It was the verse, “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:6)
Make Christ Known
The speaker said to make Christ known in every area of your life. Acknowledge that He is the Miracle Worker, the One who cares for you and loves you. If in all your ways, you are trusting Him, He will direct your paths.
That may not seem like a very “deep” answer, but it’s served me well for 40 years. When you continue to do this, you begin to develop a sense of when God is speaking to you. You’ll feel a little tug on your heart, mind, or spirit. It may not be thunder and lightning, but there’s that little tug you feel and know that it’s Him speaking to you.
If you acknowledge Him in all areas of your life, you can trust that He will direct your paths.
Does that mean that you’ll always make perfect decisions? Probably not. But the Bible covers that as well. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Results of Change
So, the report had been released. In it, Jay’s former employees talked about how unfair and dishonest he had been in the past. It didn’t look good.
Then, people started speaking out. They talked about how Jay had come to them, admitted his dishonesty, and made things right. They told of how he’d given money back and apologized to them.
Psalm 37:4 says that if we trust in God, He will give us the desires of our hearts. Sometimes, though, we don’t get what we want. One clue may be in James 4:3 where it says, “you have not because you ask not.”
Another reason we don’t always get what we want is that what we want may not be good for us. We ask amiss, and God, in His wisdom, says no, because He knows what’s best for us.
I believe that God delights in giving us good things.
When we lived in Georga, I was the principal of a Christian school and we had weekly staff meetings. They were different from any I’ve been in before or since. We’d start off by spending up to 15 minutes strategizing what we could do to make things better. We then went around the table and each prayed. I remember one particular woman who was a prayer warrior. She and another lady decided her son needed a good wife. They began to pray and that son now has a wife and children.
Another time, I recall her praying that God would meet the needs of my family. The school wasn’t able to pay much, so she prayed that our needs would be met. She prayed that God would give us something that would simply bring us joy. Her prayers were answered time and time again.
Her husband was a dairy farmer, and they were audited by the IRS. While most people would have been nervous, they were completely at peace. They got their tax professional, went to the audit, and wound up getting money back!
Around that time, Rhonda was expecting our second child (Ralanna). We had decent health insurance, but it didn’t pay everything. We were going to have to pay some of the medical expenses out of our own pocket. Those people got that money back from the IRS and paid those bills for us. We say that Ralanna is their baby as well as ours. 🙂
God will give you miraculous things. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him. Trust in Him. Delight in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart.
I mentioned that sometimes we ask God for the wrong things. Once you get closer to Him and get to know Him better, the things you ask for begin to change and you start asking for proper things.
I recently heard a man testify that God was blessing him in his business. But, he was a functional addict. Like Jay, it looked like the man was doing well on the surface. But he was an alcoholic and was addicted to cocaine and ultimately to crack cocaine.
He really wanted to serve God. One night he prayed for deliverance from his addiction and that the desire for the drug would be taken away.
When he woke up the next morning, the desire was gone! Many years later, it has not returned.
Delight yourself in the Lord and He’ll give you the desires of your heart. If your desires are wrong, He’ll tell you as long as you acknowledge Him in all ways.
Back to Jay. The negative news report had come out, but then so many people came and spoke about all the good things he had done. Because of the positive reviews, more and more people started going to his business to buy their cars. By the end of the month, enough money had come in that Jay was able to pay the bank the money he owed them.
A little disclaimer: The story of Jay is based on a movie written by the Kendrick brothers. You may recognize their names from movies like Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, War Room, and several others. The story of Jay Austin can be found in their first movie, Flywheel. (You can Google some interesting trivia about the movie.)
Flywheel is actually my favorite of all the movies they’ve made.
How do you know that you’re making good decisions? Are you acknowledging Him in all your ways? If you are, you can trust that you’re making good decisions. You can also trust that if you aren’t, God will let you know.