Three Christmases ago I was in a Cracker Barrel, fist-pumping near the roaring fireplace as I read a long-expected email on my phone. The email was from a job prospect which promised an exit from my role in a large Fortune 50 technology company and back into more ministry-related work. I would be able to keep a corporate-world salary, but I would be interacting with some of the largest Christian organizations in the country. After several years in ministry with pathetically low incomes and a saunter into the corporate world with a respectable income, I was finally getting the best of both.
It was anything but fun. It was a Jonah experience for me. I was living a Veggie Tale.
I found myself struggling with tasks that used to be second-nature—the easiest of deliverables were becoming difficult for me. A recent trip to Kenya had given me a burden that was further amplified from what I saw while working at these organizations, and these thoughts drowned out everything else. God was calling me to do something, but I just couldn’t take the steps forward.
At the same time, my wife was getting her master’s degree and working. We both felt led by the Lord that she should focus full-time on her studies. For the first time in our marriage we would become a single-income family. We were a tad bit nervous, we knew the numbers would be close when it came to bills, but I even felt more manly, shouldering the task of bringing home the bacon!
Still, we had this “thing” stirring.
I would find myself, in my later 30’s, crying every day while on my way to work. I hated it. I would pray incessantly. Just 7 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds more and I could go home. I’m not a smoker, but I took every advantage of the allotted work-place smoke breaks! I would walk around our complex with a huge lump in my throat just begging God for…whatever it was I needed. My wife would sneak little notes that reminded us about who God said He was. It was a difficult time for both of us.
Then, one day He was clear. It was time to relinquish what I had made of His calling me and enter full-time ministry with everything we had. He asked us to trust Him, as it would require leaving my income as well. No income guaranteed, no clear step-by-step directions, just a vision for what could be and for what should be.
A lot has happened since that day, and we’ve not missed paying a bill. We’ve even, at times, had more bread to share than we needed. Two families whom we asked to pray with us as we were making this decision each gave sacrificially to our calling. Their faith and obedience encouraged us; it “extended the ledge” as we were seemingly delaying our obedience. More and more, unsolicited support and encouragement would find its way to us. Within a year, we had founded a new organization, my wife is pursuing her calling in caring for the healthcare needs of our community, and we continue to see the Lord provide for us.
One recent situation summed up the journey for us to trust God. We took an unexpected, significant financial hit. When my wife called to tell me about it, we were both unhappy, but we knew that what was unseen to us had been seen by the One who provides our daily bread. We reminded ourselves of the truth of the Provider; we knew it would work out somehow. Less than 24 hours later, I was at our home mailbox and an envelope stood out to me—inside was a financial gift saying, “We believe in you!” It would more than cover the hit we had taken.
Here’s the point: the story of the Bible is that God is the Hero. Before we even knew that we had taken a hit, the Holy Spirit was working on our behalf, leading someone from another state, impressing on their heart to write a significant check. They obediently did so, put it in an envelope, stamped it, and sent it to my personal address. This had to happen days in advance for us receive it on the day that we did. When the Bible teaches that He goes before us and fights on our behalf, I believe it more today than I ever have before.
Believer, you can trust the One who said, “I’ll be with you… day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20, MSG)