Today's guest blogger is....MY WIFE.
This is a message my wife wrote about about our trip to Australia in September of 2012. She discusses the problems she wrestled with and the ways in which God showed her His faithfulness.
My husband, Praying Medic, the author of this blog, and I had many wonderful experiences on our ministry trip to Brisbane, Australia. He asked me to write about a particular series of events surrounding the trip from my perspective because they were events that personally affected my faith. My husband has written about some of the amazing supernatural healings we saw, but this is really a story of how I learned to trust the Lord more - especially in the area of financial provision. So if you struggle with trusting God in this area, my hope is that you will be encouraged by the story I am about to tell.
He Makes a Way Where There is No Way
Let me say that there was no way we would have made this trip without God providing a way. I've been unemployed and household funds were very tight when the trip was first proposed. However, I really did believe it was God's will that my husband would go to Brisbane to minister and teach on healing.
The trip was generously funded by our new online friend in Australia, known as The Graceful Banker on Facebook. (That’s another story) And as time moved along, the plans for our trip were coming together more easily than I expected. I saw it as an open door and an awesome opportunity for my husband, but I was not so sure it was God's will that I should go along.
I Don’t Want to Leave My Comfort Zone
I don't consider myself a spiritual giant. And I wasn't convinced I had anything significant spiritually to offer others on the trip - except my prayers. My husband wanted me to go, but I secretly kept hoping the whole thing would fall apart, so I could stay home in my comfort zone.
Here's what was going through my mind:
“I don't like long plane rides.”
“I am unworthy.”
“I wonder what will be expected of me.”
“We won’t be earning money while we’re gone.”
I had a lot of excuses for staying home. Finally, I started to become more vocal about not wanting to go. The reaction I got from people was, "Are you crazy? Who wouldn’t want to go to Australia?"
Although I consider myself to be a ministry partner with my husband, I've leaned toward the notion that it is really his ministry and his calling to heal the sick. I'm there to support, love and encourage him. I'm very good at that part.
I do have other talents that God has used, but I have this sense that my true destiny is not fully known to me yet. My husband tells me that God has spoken my destiny clearly to me (mainly through dreams and prophetic words) but I haven't trusted that I was hearing Him correctly, I haven't trusted myself to walk it out… or I haven't trusted God enough to bring it to pass.
Giving Financial Control Over to God?
I was raised without God and lived as an atheist for about 40 years. I scoffed at believers and didn't understand a single thing about faith, nor did I want to understand. (I know some of you can totally relate to this.) I gave my life to Jesus in 1998 during a defining moment in my unbelieving life; my second divorce.
But, I was so accustomed to doing things in my own strength, and working hard to pay for everything I needed or wanted that I’ve never really been comfortable stepping out to do something if I can’t see where the funds are going to come from. So, lack of funds for the household while we were gone was a concern to me. I like to be responsible, pay bills on time, keep a good credit score, etc.
It’s the Perfect Time to Panic
After much grumbling on my part about the trip, my husband told me "I really need you on the trip."
Others have encouraged me that, indeed we are a team, and I do have something to offer - even if I don't realize it. I didn't want to let my husband down or disobey God when He clearly made a way for this to happen. So, I settled it in my mind that I needed to "bite the bullet" and go.
Before the trip, I decided to set up our household bills to be paid automatically while we were gone so we wouldn't be late with payments. I needed to project the amount of income we could expect from my husband's vacation pay and add up all the bills & expenses. As I filled out the amounts in a spreadsheet, my projections showed our account would be short. It would go into a negative balance! There wouldn’t be enough funds to pay everything because my husband wouldn’t be paid any overtime wages while we were gone.
You should know that I’ve been unemployed for about 10 months and my husband's overtime wages have been vital to make ends meet. So, I really went into panic mode. In fact, never in my life have I broken out in hives from stress (or anything else) but this deficit news was just enough to send my body over the edge with a case of hives.
While I was fretting and losing sleep, my husband tried to soothe my fears and told me "You just have to trust that God will make a way and provide what we need. He wouldn't call us to Australia if He wasn't going to provide everything we need." He was so full of faith, and I was so skeptical. It further deepened my thinking that I really had nothing to offer anyone.
Ye of Little Faith
Fear is the opposite of faith. I knew that. I felt worse and quite guilty for not having the faith.
"Why doesn't He provide all the money ahead of time so I don't have to freak out and worry?" I asked.
"Well", said my husband, "That wouldn't require faith, would it?"
"Ugh", I said.
My mental gears began to work. How can I insure that the funds will be there while we're gone so I don't have to worry through the whole trip? We already had built up some credit card debt when we moved to Arizona, and it's been a struggle to try to pay that down while I've been unemployed.
My clever credit card company sent me some checks to entice me into more debt at 0% interest for a year. I didn't want to add more debt by using one of the checks, but didn't see any other way to get fast cash into our account just days before the trip. So, I wrote one of those credit card checks to myself and deposited $1000 into our account to cover any deficit for the month.
Sigh. Not exactly relief. I still wondered how we would pay it back. But at least I could put off the problem and I try to stop fretting about it. So we packed our bags and flew across the Pacific Ocean. Upon arrival, we were greeted at the airport before dawn by The Graceful Banker.
Within the first couple of days in Brisbane, we began to work with the street van teams that deliver food to the homeless. Throughout our trip, The Graceful Banker was driving us around and generously paying for our expenses. As I said, we couldn't have done this without divine help and someone like him who was tuned in to what God wanted to do.
Meeting the Access street van teams was great! These people are so dedicated to serving and touching hurting and unfortunate people it was inspiring to serve beside them. They faithfully prepare sandwiches and heat up meat pies in a small church kitchen, heat water in a huge urn for coffee, tea and Milo, and go out on preplanned routes to shelters and even under bridges where some homeless people gather. This could be particularly dangerous, if not for the Lord's protection.
We prayed for folks and saw some healings right away. God is so good! My husband and I spoke at a small church in Darra. I really didn't know what was expected of me but somehow, God stepped in and gave me the words. My husband took the lead on teaching about healing. We both laid hands on many, many sick and hurting people throughout our 2-week stay. I gave a testimony of my two failed marriages, a rape at knifepoint when I was 19, and how the Lord modeled forgiveness to me many years after that event. Some women came up to me afterwards and said, "Your testimony really helped me."
I was beginning to see that I did have a purpose on this trip. I can't speak right now of all the ways God showed up because my focus in this story is on trusting Him for provision.
Mail for Us?
Within our first few days, our host drove us to his lovely country home to spend some more time with his mum and the kids. He stopped at his mailbox before entering the driveway and pulled out the envelopes. There was an envelope addressed to my husband and myself.
I was very surprised. Who would send us a letter in Australia?
When we got into the house, I saw the return address. It was from a Facebook friend who lives in Perth. She was one of my husband's Facebook friends for a long time, but more recently she began sending me encouraging emails about a health issue that cropped up for me.
Let me say, we have never met this person. She lives in Perth, Australia on the western coast of the country. We were in Brisbane, on the eastern coast. We wanted to meet up with her and other Facebook acquaintances from Perth but were not able to on this trip.
“I had been planning to come and meet up with you but when I noticed your itinerary was only for a couple of weeks, I realized with birthday commitments I had, it wasn't going to work. I was disappointed. I could still come, but it would have only been for a few days and it was a long way for a short visit. I don't believe it was meant to be.”
My husband handed me the envelope. It didn't feel like a letter, it was a padded envelope. Inside was a lovely necklace with two pearl pendants that could be switched out - one dark pearl and one white pearl.
"Awww… this is so nice", I said.
I couldn't believe she was sending me a gift. I think it's hard to choose jewelry for someone you don't know, but this piece actually fit my style. I thought that in itself was amazing.
There were two smaller decorative envelopes inside the padded envelope. One said "Letter" so I opened it. Her letter started with these words "You are on your way to Brisbane as I write this." She wrote three lovely pages to us, including scriptures that the Lord was bringing to her attention, (Colossians 3:1-2 and 1 Corinthians 2: 9-16.) She said she'd like us to send her a message to her to let her know the envelope arrived safely.
At the end of the letter, she mentioned something about wanting to buy us an iPad. She said, "… so use this money for this."
Amazingly, the last envelope inside the padded outer envelope contained a stack of Australian cash. It was quite a thick stack of 50’s. In fact, standing at the counter in The Graceful Banker's kitchen, we all knew it was way more than an iPad would cost. I started to count it, but stopped after I got to about $500, because I was overwhelmed.
So, we put it aside for a while and The Banker let us his phone to call her. We thanked her for the gift and the money and told her how surprised we were. We got a chance to talk about spiritual things and how the trip was going. She shared the story of how God directed her in all this. Here's her story…
The Lord asked her to put away a bit of her grocery money every "fortnight" over a period of time. She wasn't sure what He wanted her to use it for. When she knew we were coming to Brisbane, she wanted to bless us and thought it would be nice to send about $250.
But, the Lord spoke to her and said "Send $1,000."
She didn't hesitate, she wanted to be obedient. God had never directed her to give a sum this large to anyone before. (It's amazing to me that she didn't question Him or argue about it.) She believed she was hearing from Him, so there was no question in her mind that she would send it….. but how?
She couldn't transfer the money through electronic banking because she didn't have an account with that capability. She asked a couple of friends if they would deposit her cash and transfer the money to us for her. No one wanted to do this. They didn't think she should send money to people she’d never met in person.
So, in a big step of faith, she put the whole stack of cash in the envelope, tucked it inside the padded envelope and put regular postage on it. Then, the Lord told her to put it in the Express box. It's funny, she did argue with Him about that!
She didn't have Express postage on it, so she didn't want to put it in the Express box. After trying to reason with God, He assured her that it would be okay. He wanted it to arrive quickly. So, again, she obeyed and dropped it in the Express box. It got to us more quickly than she expected.
When we ended our phone call with her, we went back to the envelope and curiously began to count the money. We got to 500, then 600, and were still counting. The final count was $1000. The exact amount that I had transferred into our account to cover our shortfall before we left! I immediately said to my husband, "Why do I ever doubt God?"
A Lesson for Me
So, through an obedient and faithful servant, the Lord showed me that He understood my fears about the finances, that He saw my distress, and that He had it covered the whole time.
Let me say, she knew nothing about my financial worries. My husband and I were the only ones who knew about it. (Well, I think I mentioned it to my neighbor who stopped by to visit before we left.)
We were hoping God would help us pay back the $1000, but He moved in advance of our arrival in Brisbane. I believe He wanted to get to the money quickly so that I wouldn’t continue to fret about it. And He wanted to show me that He was in control. He is my provider. I will always have this testimony of how He provided for me. And she will always have this amazing testimony of how God used her to provide an exact amount to meet a specific need.
Most of us have heard stories of the Lord asking someone to give, and it turned out to be the exact amount that the person needed who was receiving it. He has asked me to give specific amounts to different individuals at times, but I never got confirmation that it was the exact amount they needed for something.
My husband and I were financially blessed on one particular occasion when we gave a large amount at a conference, and when we got home an unexpected refund came in the mail that was greater than what we gave. So, I knew the Lord had a history of this type of blessing, but I never before had an experience like this one. I've been striving for so long. I had a lack of faith in the area of provision. It’s a weakness in my walk with Him. But it's true; His strength is perfected in my weakness.
Now I am challenged to do the things He has told me to do; the things I've been afraid to do because of the economy or my jobless situation. I have no doubt that He will bless the work of my hands and work all things for good as I step into His purpose.
Months before we left for Australia, I was trying to pay down some credit card debt and looked at my bill wondering why the amount owed was getting larger instead of smaller. I had not made any purchases for months.
I checked my statements and saw a $75 charge that was being added each month. It looked like a service I had signed up for, but I’d forgotten what it was. I figured I should call them and cancel. So I called the 800 number and I told them I wanted to cancel their service because I was currently unemployed.
The gentleman on the phone said, “You’re unemployed? Ma’am, this charge is for insurance that pays your monthly credit card payment if you get laid off or are unemployed.”
After he said that, I began to have vague recollection of signing up for this a long time ago. He asked me some questions and said, “It seems as though you will qualify for benefits, but I need you to fill out some paperwork.”
He sent a claim for form and I filled in all the details, attached some other documents and saw that I needed a signature from the last company I worked for. I e-mailed my supervisor. She said she couldn’t sign the form. I called back the insurance company. They told me I must have the signature from my last employer.
I called the employer’s corporate office and asked if someone there would sign the form. She told me to fax the papers to them. So I did. I waited and waited and after a few days I called again but got their voicemail. I e-mailed them and still received no reply or signature.
I got discouraged and figured this would be the insurance company’s chance to deny me the benefits. I submitted other pieces of information in lieu of the signature but it was rejected. Days before we left for Australia I called again and finally got someone at corporate office who said she would help. I faxed everything again. The paper was signed and faxed back to me…finally.
So I mailed everything to the credit card insurance company. They said it would be about 10 days before I would get their decision by mail.
When I got back from Australia, there was a letter in my mailbox that said my claim had been accepted and they would make my next credit card payment. Finally some progress, but I wished I had put my claim in 10 months ago when I was first laid off. They could have been paying that bill for the past 10 months. Anyway, I decided to be grateful that the payments would be made as long as I was still unemployed.
After a few days, my credit card bill came. Upon examination, I saw that the insurance company had paid the bills retroactive back to the date I was first unemployed. Actually, they paid 10 months of DOUBLE monthly payments and refunded the monthly $75 insurance fee for all 10 months! My new balance owed on the card was now HALF of what it was before I went to Australia. What do you think - was I just so smart for buying insurance or was this a blessing of Divine Debt Reduction?