“Now it is faith to believe that which you do not yet see; and the reward of this faith is to see that which you believe.” -Augustine of Hippo (354-430)
What happens when your faith grows enough to trust and obey God even when doing so seems utterly foolish to the rational human mind?
A) God intervenes and supplies and all turns out well
B) Finances go from bad to worse, and soon it looks certain that such radical trusting was madness.
The correct answer is… B!
The correct answer is also A.
I learned this faith lesson firsthand a few short years after the crises the Trouble-time Provision posts told about.
As alcohol-fueled problems worsened, my alcoholic grew increasingly antsy to try to leave them all (and me) behind—and so he finally did. Of course, he took his root problem with him. My own problem now? Unemployed single parenthood.
While that state continued, I had no money to give back to God in gratitude for all the good He’d done me (which I’ll never be able to repay!) But once I had a job again, Malachi 3:10 (NIV) spoke to my heart, compelled me to tithe whatever money came in. And God always supplied according to His promises in Malachi, and Philippians 4:14,16,19.
“Test Me in This…”
Then came one January evening when the figures I was scribbling simply couldn’t make the funds reach the needs. For the first time in three years I began to money-fret.
It was getting late. I needed sleep. But my agitation wouldn’t allow it. I added, subtracted, pondered, schemed.
Surely God would understand if I skipped tithing this month? He knew how frugally I’d been living, how there was nowhere I could cut the budget, how even leaving out the tithe, my money wasn’t going to suffice.
Suddenly I decided. Crumpling my scribbled papers, I flung them in the wastebasket, and declared, “I haven’t squandered. You’ve always supplied. I’m just gonna keep trusting You!”—and climbed into bed to a beautiful sleep.
Come monthly payday, first check I wrote? My tithe. After that, some must-do bills whose nonpayment would mean no fuel delivery, no day care, no roof overhead. And I waited for the child support check that would pay a few more bills. Beyond that, well, I’d just trust God—alone.
Where’s the Source?
My personal story had become like George Muller’s orphanage story: All along, I’d asked no one else for money, only God. I could have asked the school where I worked for a salary advance, could have borrowed against my wee bank account, could have asked parents or friends for a loan.
Yet any of these things would just put me behind, leave me playing catch up. Loans add interest, increase burden. Except my parents wouldn’t lend me money—they’d give it, and they’d already given so much I couldn’t even consider accepting, let alone asking for, more. I’d never asked them in the first place. They had just “happened to” call with offers right when a specific need, never voiced, popped up. I’d only prayed and put my need in God’s hands.
So now I did likewise with this situation.
Out on a Limb
The month rolled on. And so did the car, back and forth to and from work, burning up fuel. Fridge and cupboard neared empty. And the child support check didn’t come… (something about the tenant in our still-unsold house not paying rent on time…)
Till at last the morning arrived when I deposited toddler son and self into car, turned on ignition and saw gas gauge on E, then rattled the remaining couple coins in my purse and thought of empty bank account and that evening’s required school event and the babysitter needing pay and transport. And right now I had to get to day care center and job… on fumes.
I once heard someone say Christian faith is like climbing up a tree, going out on a limb, sawing off the limb…and watching the tree fall down. Well, I was there now! What would fall? Tree or limb?
What did I do? Laughed! Lifted up my head said, “Maybe I’m crazy, Lord, but I just believe you’re gonna drop money out of the sky.” And off I drove to work—and got there. How I’d get home was a problem for later. Now I was down to trusting God not just one day, but one hour, at a time.
Eleventh Hour, Fifty-ninth Minute
At school I got so busy I forgot the money desperation—until recess, when I visited the office to get my mail. Out of my mailbox, with the usual, came an unusual looking envelope bearing only my name. With no clue what it was, I still couldn’t wait to open it!
Sure enough, inside: a crisp ten-dollar bill, and a note from someone who never left me a note (or money) before or since, one of the secretaries, saying something like, “This is to help defray the evening’s expenses. This is strictly confidential.”
Which person in the office had engineered this?
But I knew its ultimate source! Near bursting, I wanted to catapult down those preppy-school steps shouting, “Praise the Lord!”
I kept my decorum, but my joy was exploding.
The cupboard at home sat bare. The gas tank here, too. But I now had enough to stretch between gas and enough to barely pay the babysitter. And we’re only supposed to concern ourselves with one day at a time, right? Just like with the manna?
Still, I couldn’t wait to get home and look in my home mailbox…
There, inside, just two bits of mail. An apology note from my landlady for neglecting to send the escrow interest I didn’t know she owed me—with said interest. And a bank statement for an account I didn’t know I still had.
This was no fortune—thirty-five dollars in the bank account, less in the escrow check—but enough to stretch beyond hours to days, for just enough gas and food to get us through the week.
That week the child support check finally came, and two moonlighting jobs “fell” in my lap. So by its end, that month had more income than any in years. All bills paid!—with cash to spare!—and an unforgettable faith lesson that helps me even to today.