Well, This is EMBARRASSING!
Dear Elijah List family! Please forgive me. This might be considered humiliating. Hold on. You'll see what I mean...
Well, this IS embarrassing. That's why I've never told it publicly!
But hey, there's a first time for everything. But frankly, this is one of the very BEST stories I've ever told.
Because God is in it, and I mean He's REALLY IN IT! But this story, honestly, is FOR YOU and it's ABOUT YOU!
I mean it!
Once upon a time (not a bad way to start), little did I know God was up to something "really good" and yet it did not feel like it at the time. I was in 6th grade and before the story ended, I would be in 3 DIFFERENT SCHOOLS all in 6th grade.
I was neither a good student nor a capable "athlete."
Here's how the story starts. Can you relate? Awful!
"Here comes the easy 'grounder' softball...STRAIGHT THROUGH MY LEGS.
I can't even describe the humiliation. Even a 3rd grade girl could have had that. It was horrible. Of course, I was always chosen by these teams as LAST, including the girls.
Now, the change...the change-up.
The school change came. And what I considered a "curse" at the time was about to be nothing but a "blessing" that was hidden from sight. It was a horrible year! But remember, this is not about me. It's about YOU! I'm serious!
My dad had one of the shortest tempers known to man. He was always fighting with our teachers. It was "his thing."
I was one of 6 kids in our family—but dad fought with every single one of our teachers. Why? I guess because he could.
In a fit of anger one day, he pulled 2 of the oldest 4 children out of church school. I guess he must have said, "I'll show them! I'll take half of these out of school." I was the 3rd oldest, so out of school I was "pulled."
My second school was awful. It was a public school and I felt like a "duck out of water." Feeling lost, I dug in to spend the rest of the year in this foreign place. It felt like I was pulled out of my own church.
Again, little did I know this was only school number 2 out of 3 of which I would be pulled— all 6th grade classes.
Did I mention this was about YOU?
If you didn't know, 6 is the number of "man" and God was throwing symbolism all over the place in this life story. God was not only teaching a lesson, He was changing my life—for the good—FOREVER.
Only a day or so into the 2nd school, I had to be tested for my reading skills. Never known for my "smarts" I dug in to see how bad the tests would be.
But every word the teacher showed me I "knew it." I mean she gave me the longest words she had on her list. I knew and could even pronounce every word. Every. Single. Word.
God was turning my fortunes and my self-image from an "unfit" student to an "unparalleled" smart one.
Yep, I was a SMART kid as it turned out. Who knew?
Then, a sudden NEW move and now we're living in Santa Paula, CA, and I was thrust into my 3rd school—a new 6th grade class at my last of 3 schools for my 6th grade.
A new one-room school house, unlike any other. Check out the photo attached right here.
Talk about a FOREVER-LIFE CHANGE! Everything was about to be DIFFERENT.
With 13 students in a school that only went up to 6th grade, I was the one-and-only 6th grader. Look at the photo. This is that school. This is the very, very best turnaround location of my entire life!!
Suddenly I was the oldest, largest, and yes, most athletic student in the school. I was chosen first on every single team. Suddenly I could hit the ball. What?
And I could hit it hard!
Because the other kids believed in me. I was the best athlete in the school and I proved it, over and over.
Later in High School, fueled by this experience, I decided I would improve all the more. Practicing, I found I could not only keep hitting the ball, but I began to LOVE fast grounders headed my way. Third base turned out to be the place where the most hard-hit softballs became line drives straight at me.
I insisted on playing THIRD BASE, hoping for super-fast drives right at my feet, or right at my face. If I got the preferred ball coming right at me, it would be a tricky, hard-to-catch "hopper." The harder it was hit at me and the trickier it was to catch, the more I grew to like it...I really liked it!
OK, now I could hit.
And now, I could catch almost any ball hit straight at me.
Now to "throw it." I knew I had to catch the fast grounder and throw it from third to first. No problem. But I needed more practice.
Suddenly, I developed a throwing arm so strong that I could catch a bad hopper, holding it for a few counts, just to prove I could; and then a sudden "burn" into first base, I easily threw the runner out.
Next, I attended a school picnic at my father's school. He was also a 6th grade teacher. Dad pitched it and right down the third base line, I snapped up a tricky grounder.
Wait for it. WAIT FOR IT. I needed to let the runner get much closer to first base. Suddenly I fired it into first, EASLY throwing the runner out.
My dad, in slow motion, turned toward me, his jaw dropped open as he looked at me asking in effect, "Where did THAT come from?"
Finally, graduating from college, I was now myself a 6th grade teacher.
"Mr. Shultz, please let us play the 7th and 8th graders at softball."
"Kids, these guys are much, MUCH larger than you are."
"We don't care. Let us play them."
So, for 2 weeks, I worked with my students. Using my own techniques, I threw the ball directly at their face, as if trying to knock the batter out. I threw at their feet next. I was going to put them through the paces, and that is what I did.
It was a slaughter! My kids CREAMED the much larger 7th and 8th graders. The "win" was so huge, that my kids started taunting the older kids.
"You're going to get beat up. Stop it. Just cherish your win," I told them. Wisely, they settled down.
THE VERY LAST, WILL BECOME THE VERY FIRST
Many, if not most of you, will see areas in your lives where you come in LAST, in the same way I did. God is showing you through this story to embrace being last and determine it will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN...NEVER! And if it does, you can handle it. God is changing you from glory to glory.
Addiction problems? Marriage in trouble? Terrible relationships?
Ask God to help you turn it all around. Remind HIM that HE SAID the last would become first!
HOW I TURNED IT AROUND IN LIFE
In the same way, I discovered that I was LAST in blessings and favor and prosperity. I was not giving to others. I was not tithing. I was not giving offerings. I figured I needed the money more than God did.
But then I got a "clue." I realized how much more I could and WOULD "hit a home run" with God—by giving generously!
I started giving and giving generously—and I'm telling you EVERYTHING CHANGED. Just like practicing hard in 6th grade and becoming almost an expert at softball, I began to prosper with God's richest blessings by only giving generously.
Don't let what happened to me happen to you. Don't go through these tough times. Give to the Lord and give generously.
You won't be sorry! I promise!!! Give and give and give. My wife and I now give 20% to the Lord and we have NOT PROSPERED THIS MUCH—ever. NEVER! We give to other ministries and wow, what a difference.
Please make a strong commitment right now to end the year RIGHT and start the next year RIGHTER. Give generously and just watch what God will do for you.
These are the last few days of the year. Don't let another day or hour or minute go by. This is the time to show generosity to the Lord.
And Derene and I VERY MUCH appreciate your generosity. Click the donate button below and just watch what happens!
Bless you all and Happy New Year,
Steve and Derene Shultz, Founders
Elijah List Ministries