When I Couldn’t Make Rent

When I Couldn’t Make Rent

Last week, I shared part of my story on how I became a professional artist.

Here is “the rest of the story.”

Instead of just calling it, “Part 2,” I want to title this post according to the main problem I faced, which at the time was not having enough money for rent. I hope that my experience can encourage you, too, if you are going through a rough time right now.

The sketch shown above is a quick drawing I did that reminds me of Job–that man in the Bible who suffered probably like no one else on this earth ever did, except maybe Jesus and the apostle Paul. Great story of going through a trial and coming out on top! I encourage you to read it sometime.

My story was nothing like that, but I sure felt like Job when I was going through it. Maybe you have, too.

After my sales/service job was downsized during the great recession of 2008, I had made the choice to go into doing artwork full time. At first things were great. Several people in my church asked me to do portraits for them and business was rolling along. And then…

My commissions ran out around September of 2009. It didn’t take long to fall behind on bills. We were almost two months behind on rent. Things were not looking good. I thought, “maybe I need to scrap this whole artist thing and get a real job.”

However, my wife advised: “You need to do what God has called you to do. We need to fast and pray.”

“How long?” I asked. I didn’t like fasting.

“However long it takes!”

So we fasted and prayed. And there we were in the kitchen one night praying. Suddenly, the thought occurred to me: “What would you do if you had the rent money in your hands?” The thought was so clear and bright that I knew it had to be from the Lord.
I said, “Well, I would be lifting my hands and praising you!”
And then He said: “Do that right now.”
"Victory in Surrender" 16 x 20, acrylic on canvas, by Matt Philleo.

“Victory in Surrender” 16 x 20, acrylic on canvas, by Matt Philleo.

So I did.
And immediately, a feeling of peace and joy flooded me.
knew God was going to take care of me. I knew I had that rent money.
“Wow, so this is what faith feels like!” I thought. I wasn’t hoping. I was actually believing.
Faith is a gift. If you’re lacking in faith, take the faith you have to seek God for more, and He will increase your faith!

The next day at church, someone came up to me and said, “Matt, I’d like to commission you to do some art for me. I don’t even know what of yet, but here is a check.”

That down deposit took care of part of it, and then my brother in law, knowing my situation, decided to give me a gift for the rest of the rent. And we had it! God was faithful!

I’d like to say my faith was rock-solid since then. But I’ve had a few lapses.

Even though I was concentrating on art, I took up a couple side jobs to fill in the gaps between commissions.

My most recent job was working at a local recycling center–dirty, dangerous, and hazardous work. We would process aluminum cans, chop up pieces of brass from faucets, dismantle things that really aren’t meant to be dismantled, to extract the valuable metals from them. With the machinery we used, once false move at any time could be fatal.

I worked there for about a year and a half. My employers liked my work and treated me well. But one day, around Christmas, the thought occurred to me, “What are you doing here?

In the meantime one of my co-workers had a severe accident and lost part of his finger. That made me think! I had several commissions lining up that I didn’t have enough time to complete because of this side job. I prayed, and I figured it was time to move on.

That was two years ago.

I can now call myself a professional artist. This is what I do full time and how I make a living. Although things are pretty tight, God is providing for my family and I. Providentially, I’ve been able to do a few hundred commissioned portraits, and most of them in the last few years!
The best part is I get to be home with my kids and pray and tuck them into bed every night. I love being able to share my faith in Jesus in an authentic way at art shows when people ask what my work is about. And I’m doing what God created me to do. 
Is there a passion that you have lying dormant that you would love to use? It may not be something you necessarily need to do as a profession, but a special skill God gave you that you’d like to use but, for some reason, are hesitant to?
Share Your Thoughts!
If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave me your feedback below! I will personally get back to you. Can you help me spread the word? Please share this post with your family and friends by using the social media links on the left side or below. Thank you!

"I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands."

Inscribed6a_500px

"Inscribed," Pencil on Paper, by Matt Philleo

One day, when I was discouraged I read a verse in the Bible, in Isaiah, 49:15-16, where it says, "Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands." This verse brought such encouragement, that I created this original work of art to share the incredible love of God with others, including you!


Get a free 8 x 10 copy of this drawing that you can use to print, share, or as wallpaper!

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