The Orange Planet: risk, surrender, transformation

ground breaking-12.03.07In 2008 my family risked it all by putting our life savings of $400,000 into a dream. After two years of presenting our vision to multiple banks, we finally got what we pursued. The experience was exhilarating.

Fast forward to 2011, the place was moving with excitement, bills were being paid, people were employed, and fun was the main course. I became known as ‘The Orange Planet guy’, yet inside I was about to experience a transformation. A star would shine and it wouldn’t be me.

THE STRUGGLE

It was approximately two a.m. one morning and I found myself in a still dark building face down crying out to God to help me. It felt like a gut wrenching “spiritual wrestling match”, nothing I had experienced before. I was being confronted with my weaknesses and His strength. There I was telling God that we needed $10,700 in ten days (as if He didn’t know). For me, I embrace risk and I don’t fail, at least that is my mind set. Although I had never missed a payment, my credit was outstanding, there I was, facing potential failure and admitting that I could not slay this giant on my own.

My number one weakness has always been the lack of trust in people. That frailty filtered into my understanding of God. I have never doubted that I would spend eternity in heaven. I trust God alone for my salvation. But it was in the day to day stuff that my lack of trust continued to peak its ugly head.

I guess like many people, I have fallen into the believe-in-me mentality. The mentality that says, believe in your efforts alone. Go take the world by the tail and control your destiny. But no matter how hard I tried it wasn’t going my way this time.

I believe that God used my monumental financial need to confront me on many personal deep rooted issues. I had no choice but to listen. I mean, what else could I do? I had exactly what I wanted, but now I needed Him in a big way and I knew it.

That night was something I had never experienced before. I knew I needed God to come through big time, but I really didn’t want it to be so personal and vulnerable. At least that wasn’t my strategy. I knew enough about God that once you do, He starts turning over every stone. And He did. It is what I needed. I was being unmasked.

I began to acknowledge my complete dependence on Him. I was all ears. What do you want me to learn God, I yelled. It was a rough night. Past unresolved issues began to surface. He was rewinding the clock way back. I was like, really God, we’re going that far back! In the end I willingly replied, “Ok God, I get it, You want all of me. You want me out of your way so you can do what you desire through me. You have my humble submission and dependence, I declared. I began to pray something very specific that night. I prayed “God do something that only You can get credit.” I need to know He was in the solutions and it wasn’t me. I surrendered and requested Him to display His power. It was a simple and concise prayer but it would change my life and perspective forever.

CRAZY DAYS AHEAD

The very next day He did something that proved “only God could have done that”. If I shared even now it would be hard to believe. Let’s just say I used to make fun of people that had stories like this, but now I believe. Moving forward I witnessed His undeniable provision. I wanted to see more of Him and less of me! Money came in (even more than the needed $10,700), sports training grew and people came and went from places I least expected. Yet, through all His provision, there was a side of me that felt like I was being strung along. I enjoyed this new ride, but it wasn’t coming fast enough (I wasn’t catching on to patience). It was only the beginning. Three long years of learning was ahead.

“I remember saying, OK God, I get it, are we done?! God knows I am slow learner and it’s always about His timing not mine.”

I’d like to say I trusted ever inch of the way, but I didn’t. I saw God come through in amazing ways, praised Him and wondered if He’d come through again.  I think my doubt showed me why I need a Savior and it wasn’t just to provide heaven for when I died, but also in the day to day stuff that I need to trust Him. That was the point. I needed to completely surrender to His plan on His terms. I needed to be reminded that He is God and I am not.

Month after month, year after year I saw so many “only God could have done that” moments that it spurred me on to keep praying and keep trusting. I remember thinking if this is what it’s like to be close to God I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I wanted to be witness to more specific answers. God was coming through. He was doing crazy things! He cared about the littlest things in my life. He brought the exact employee at the right time. He put the right banker in place that cared for us as individuals, not just a number. He brought money from the most unlikely places. When a thirty six-thousand-dollar-lease would come to an end, He’d bring in sixty thousand in a new service. It wasn’t all financial either. He’d bring training clients from 100 miles away. Through our counseling services we helped folks through rough patches, we watched lives once headed to a godless hell transformed through His gospel, a jail ministry started, and even the two year school that came and went yet served to meet many needs. I was floored to say the least. There isn’t enough paper to tell you how many things He did. But it is amazing! God used it all to begin to conform me to His image. It was His working. I was just trying to stay out of the way.

Today we continued to pray the same prayer, “God do something that only you can get credit for.” He would continue to teach us and mold us into His image over and over.

GOD SUSTAIN US OR SELL US

About eight months ago a new prayer was added. It was simple and direct prayer – God sustain us or sell us. I loved what I was doing, but selling the building (our main asset) made complete sense to me. Initially, I met with multiple people, one in particular, a Christian organization that was interested in purchasing our building. What seemed to be a perfect fit fell through in the end.

One deal in particular that humanly made sense on so many levels, yet as we negotiated me staying on for a few years during transition it was said,  “Dave they won’t need you around”. My initial thought was, wow! Then my ego kicked in and I thought, “whatever, just show me the money and I’ll take this show down the street”. Keep in mind, I had put a lot into this place and I wanted to continue my business, just sell the building. In the end, God had another plan. One deal after another just wouldn’t come together. But this time I had a different attitude. There was this inner peace, I just knew that God was going to sustain us or sell us.

We kept working diligently and He continued to provide every need. It was then that an offer from an out-of-state individual came across my desk. It was not only an offer but exactly what we asked. It was a smooth transition, one of respect and one that valued the work we had done in building and running our business.

The good news – the building sold and The Orange Planet business continues at the east end of our current location. God answered our prayer very specifically. He sustained us and sold us. And He answered our initial prayer “God do something only you could get credit for” by bringing in a buyer that I had no connection with. God always answers according to His will in His timing.

THROUGH ALL OF THIS

2 - CopySomeone asked me once what the greatest thing is about owning The Orange Planet. I’ve said that I enjoy living my passion, bringing my kids on the journey of witnessing raw and real entrepreneurship, and sharing in people’s daily journeys. Now my answer has morphed. Taking a big risk and operating this company has provided the greatest opportunity for myself and my family to learn many deep spiritual lessons that we could not have learned anywhere or anyway else.

In spite of me, God chose to use my strong will to save money, my drive, my talents, my supportive wife and my ability to embrace risk to teach me the greatest lesson I could have ever learned.

“I have learned that while God might appreciate my abilities (which He gave me in the first place) I am simply not that good alone. Only after complete surrender He can do far more than we can think or imagine.”

My life has been riddled with victories and failures. I have suffered deep pain. I have been a warrior and I have been weak. I have regrets and joys, but through it all, in spite of my lack of faith and inadequacies, He has delivered on His promises. You’d think I would get it now, but I will no doubt fail future tests, but I will strive daily to surrender to His will and not my own. I want to be part of this ongoing story that “only God could have done that”.

Thank you to all who continue to help us write this story. To my unbelievable wife who has prayed, fasted, cried with me, worked behind the scenes, encouraged me and stood like a rock in full support, without her none of this could happen. Thank you to my children who through this process have begun to learn how to pray and watch God’s provision. My parents who have been there in untold ways and those team members who make it work day in and day out, thank you for helping us continue this Orange Planet story. I look forward to the next chapter! 

Its no secret, I love music. This song breaks it down in the way I can’t. Whatever life brings – may I stay crushed.

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