Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Where God Guides, He Provides (Part 2)

This post is a follow up to this one: "A Slippery Excuse."

Sometimes where God Guides, He actually provides with cold, hard cash. Just out of the blue. Here are two (of many) stories from my own journey where He did that very thing.

Story One:

When Leona and I first moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, it was because we knew that God was leading (or guiding) us to be here. He had guided us to a specific church and He had guided me to attend seminary. This was very clear to us. The provision for this to really work however, was not very evident. We moved anyway.

The "What" and the "Where" were settled in our hearts. It was now just a matter of "How."

Initially, I was paid a very humble part time salary. Leona, who is a teacher, had a hard time getting hired at first because we had moved in the middle of a school year. It was not long after our move before we were pretty much at the end, financially speaking. I had no idea how we were going to pay the rent. It was late, in fact.

We were where God had guided us, doing what God had guided us to do, but the provision was lacking. So we prayed.

Then it happened. Out of the blue.

A gentleman in our church approached me one afternoon and told me that God had impressed upon him and his wife to give us something. He then handed me an envelope. I thanked him for his kindness and generosity and after he left, I opened it, expecting to find cash for lunch or something like that. It stunned me to discover in that envelope ten crisp, new $100 bills. It was more than enough to pay (what seemed like a fortune at the time) our $415 rent, and then some. I was blown away.

Receiving that money caused a flashback . This “out of the blue” financial provision reminded me of another experience that I had had long ago as a teenager. It was the day I really learned to tithe and give with a generous heart, and it was the day my adventure with the “God Who Provides” really began.

Story Two:

I was sitting in a church service out of town and the speaker was talking about tithing and generosity. Up to that point, I had never really tithed or even given anything. I had only brought to church an envelope with a buck that my mom had put in it for me to give. I didn’t have any money of my own, so I never really had anything to give.

But by the time I was sitting in this service, I had recently earned a little cash. I had mowed some lawns and had amassed the great sum of around $40. But I hadn’t given any of it back to God. I hadn’t tithed at all.

During this worship service, I began to sense that God was guiding me to give. I also sensed that for some reason, I needed to give more than ten percent this first time around. So I began a silent “dialogue” with God. It went something like this:

Me: Ok, Lord, I get it. I know I need to give. I know You want me to give …So how much, Lord?

God: Ten dollars.

Me: No, really. I thought You said, “ten dollars.” Really, now. How much, Lord?

God: Ten dollars.

Me:
I think I’m just saying this to myself. Maybe I’m trying too hard here. God, please tell me how much You really want me to give.

God:
Ten dollars.

Me:
So, You’re saying, “ten dollars.” That really is more than 10 percent, Lord.

God:


Me:
Really? Ten dollars? I only have forty. That’s more like 25 percent.

God:


Me:
Ten dollars. Ok, Lord. It’s Yours. (Foreshadowing of reality, here…) I don’t have it with me, but it’s on my desk at home. As soon as I get there, I’ll put it in an envelope, and bring it with me to church next Sunday.
This was all a very silent conversation with God. I wasn’t talking out loud, and I didn’t tell anyone what I was praying about. It felt great, though, knowing that I was clearly doing what God was guiding me to do, beyond the “letter of the law” and with generosity.

When the service ended a few moments later, I stood up and saw my sister in law, Debra, walking towards me from across the room. What happened next I will never forget as long as I live.

Debra said, “Johnny, during that last song, I really sensed God guiding me to give you this.”

She then handed me …tendollars.

My mouth slowly dropped open, and just as slowly I sat back down. Only God and I knew about the ten dollars. I had "goose bumps" as I realized that God was very, very close to me in that moment. Very, very real.

Unmistakably, powerfully and with little fanfare, God taught me that whenever He asked me to do anything, He would always provide what I needed to accomplish it. He would even provide what He asks me to give to Him, because He owns it all, anyway. He asked for ten dollars, then He gave me the ten dollars to give Him.

It was not so much a lesson about money and tithing (although that was clear), it was a lesson about trust. God wanted me to know that He is good, and that He is trustworthy. And as I have trusted Him, from that day till now, He has never ceased to be just that.

The Key

Sometimes God provides with cold, hard cash. But it’s not about the cash; it’s about Him. That’s why when God guides me to do something and the money doesn’t appear out of the blue, I still can trust Him.

Just to be clear, let me mention again that sometimes the lack of funds really is an indicator of God’s lack of guiding. God doesn’t provide it because He isn’t in it. Sometimes that is definitely the case. But again, it's not always the case.

This is why it is so vital to have a close, fresh, daily connection with God. To daily draw near to Him. [Hebrews 4:16, James 4:8] It’s the only way to make the distinction. A close connection with Christ helps us to see our circumstances more clearly and helps us to ask the right questions about provision and every thing else as we strive to follow His lead.

I love it when God provides “cash out of the blue.” I believe something like that will happen for Compass Church, very soon, in fact. "Instant" financial provision is incredible and necessary much of the time.

But I also love it when He provides in other ways. I’ll wrap up this "mini series" of posts with some of the other ways that "God provides" for "where He guides."

1 comment:

Kourtney said...

I am really in dire financial need right now, through prayer & partial fasting, I am hoping God will help me & my struggling husband so we can rebuild a house that would be considered condemned should the county know we live in it. We need real financial help and we continue to wait on God.