Jay and Chelsea Reitz own a three-year old construction company in Flagstaff: Reitz Restoration and Home Construction. He has worked on familiar buildings like Historic Barrel and Bottle House and FLG Terrior. Jay has been in the carpentry business for over 20 years and absolutely loves it. They got married, had their first baby, and started their business all in the same year. Through it all, God brought them into a place of deep dependence on Him and marked their lives with mission that spilled into all of life. Their fast-paced journey has been filled with anxiety and many unknowns, causing them to collide with a God who meets fear head-on and supplies abundant peace. Jay put it simply: “I’ve never had to have faith like owning a business. Ever.”
Jay grew up in a christian family, got saved when he was young, but admits that he’s never trusted God like he does now. As a family unit, they had to go feet-first into trust. In their first year of business, Chelsea had a break-down as a result of a dead season. This season consisted of very little business coming in, and they were being stretched thin as a family. Jay was spending his time creating a website for the business, but no real, money-paying jobs were trickling in. They had planned to travel to visit Chelsea’s mom in Hawaii in the coming months but, as they looked at the state of their business, it seemed impossible. Uncertainty and fear crept in quickly. Instead of living in the anxiety that they felt, they prayed. When Chelsea went back to her computer after praying with Jay, she saw an email from her sister. The email had just been sent a few moments earlier stating that Chelsea’s sister wanted to buy their tickets to Hawaii. Her sister had no previous knowledge of their financial situation or their prayer a few moments before. The Reitz Family has countless stories about how they’ve looked at a hopeless situation, decided to trust God anyways, and watched Him provide in incredible ways. They remember a time where their business bank account had less than $45 in it. They prayed instead of living in fear, and God provided a large job for them. The check for a couple thousand dollars arrived a few days later. Jay states confidently that “the level of money in my bank account has no bearing on God’s faithfulness.”
He is faithful in ways we cannot know if we remain safe and riskless. Jay says that “you can’t believe in Him, that He’s going to take care of you and provide for you, unless you put yourself in a place where you’re vulnerable to Him.” The risk of starting their own business forced the Reitz Family into an undiscovered place of reliance of God, and the continual ups and downs of business and life have kept them there- always trusting. Amidst the blessing of being his own boss, there is immense pressure: not only to provide for his own family, but the families of the employees under him as well. Jay states, however, that “it’s not my pressure” because “He promises to supply all my needs.” They had to come to a place where they realized God wasn’t joking when he said he’d provide. Paul reminds believers in Philippians 4:6:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
“I hold on to that verse like nothing else,” says Jay “because it’s so applicable to where we are all the time- where anxiety creeps in so quickly.” He speaks of waking in the middle of the night feeling afraid and anxious. He prays, tells God about his anxiety and asks for the help to trust. “Literally in minutes I’m asleep or anxiety free,” he says. This is not something that most people in Jay’s position experience. The nature of the job is so stressful that most contractors find themselves “on pain medication or sleeping pills.” God has protected them and loved them so well through the rollercoaster of the last few years. He has held their business and their livelihood in his hands as they trust him to be a good father.
Out of that trust, God pushed them into a place where the different facets of their lives collided. Faith bled into all of life, as it should. “I guess because of the business,” says Jay, “and because we had to trust him so much, he’s moved us into this place where there cannot be a separation between our personal life and our work life.” Jay realized that it had been over twenty years since he’d led anyone to the Lord and began to wonder about that hard fact. He realized that faith hadn’t consumed his life, that he’d been more about his own business than the Father’s. He prayed, asking simply: “I want to see that fruit.” He found himself in SomeBurros eating lunch soon afterwards at a table alone. Despite their being a number of empty tables, a man approached Jay to sit with him. The man opened up about his life, heard Jay’s story, and came to know Jesus over a meal and a simple prayer.
“We [Chelsea and I] just started this journey of continually wanting more,” says Jay. They started by simply sharing the Gospel wherever they went. “It was hard at first,” admits Jay, “and now it’s so simple, so easy… it just rolls off the tongue.” It started with them taking the good news of the Gospel and the call to make disciples into all of life. It just means that they “tell everyone that Jesus loves them- really simple.” Everyone is non-exclusive. It’s uncomfortable, but there is nothing more urgent. Following Jesus means total abandonment. It means “you’re giving everything over to him and he’s in control,” states Jay. How a person feels has little to do with following Jesus. “The father is the only important thing,” says Jay, “my pride is not important anymore… meaning I can share the Gospel with anyone.” The church is called to carry the good news of Jesus into every facet of life. When followers of Jesus take the command seriously to die to themselves, they experience freedom and are able to live in the bravery of sharing the Gospel wherever they go. Jay states matter-of-factly: “Am I going to waste my life and live for me? Or am I going to do what He says and sell everything to buy the pearl of great price?”
In three years of a new business, the Reitz Family has known so many obstacles. Through the scary leap of starting a new business, God brought them into a place of total surrender. “The things that really pushed us in that direction,” Jay states, “were starting the business, being forced to be on our knees, and being faithful to meet with the Father.” They have had to depend on him and trust him in deeper ways than they’ve previously known. He has also used this experience to bring them to a place where sharing the Gospel is a part of their everyday life; where no excuse of inconvenience or fear puts anyone outside of their call to share the love of God. He states simply that authentic followers of Jesus “are on their knees, in communion with the Father, in communion with other believers, and their laser-beam focus is to share the Gospel no matter what happens.” Chelsea marvels at their newborn using words like precious and miracle. She says that “what’s amazing is that God looks at all of us and says that- every one of us.” He is a good Father and loves to care for his children. When his children trust him despite logic, he provides beyond wildest dreams. When his children are brave and open every inch of their lives to him, he is faithful and consuming. The church should be marked with a reckless trust: anxiety-casters that hold to their God despite all reason, who live in a reality where all is surrendered and where God makes them bravely obedient in sharing his love in all places.