God provided in an unusual way. The summer following college graduation, while preparing for seminary, I worked as children’s minister. God would challenge me in the coming years to learn to trust Him financially step by step. He created an experience that summer to prove Himself faithful and teach me that I could trust Him to provide for my present and future needs.
One Wednesday afternoon I visited Crossway bookstore in Greenville, South Carolina. Browsing through the shelves, I sensed the quiet, consistent nudge of God: “Buy these five books and give them to the man you disciple.” I knew that voice. And I questioned that voice. As a young man on the way to seminary, I didn’t have money to squander. I prayed, Lord, You know I don’t have money to spare. But if this is You, I will trust You. As an act of obedience, I purchased the books for $48.
Later, feeling foolish and questioning my experience, I went to church and walked into my office. Stan, the custodian, came in and presented an envelope. I asked, “Who is this from?” He answered, “I don’t know.” I said, “What do you mean, you don’t know?” He replied, “That’s what they told me to tell you, I don’t know.” Stan left, and I opened the envelope.
Inside was a note that read, “God knows our needs before we ask Him.” The note, unsigned, included a fifty dollar bill.
I sat stunned. God saw me. God guided me. I heard from Him. And He was real. I could step out in faith and trust Him to be faithful. I worshiped Jehovah-Jireh – who sees and in seeing provides.
God was teaching me the reality of Luke 6:38: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.
The next three years during tight financial days at seminary, I returned to this mental altar time after time, reminding me of the Lord my Provider. I could look to the Lord first – not the bank account. God knew my needs before I asked Him.
Charles Stanley asks in his book The Source of My Strength, “Are we trusting in our fullness, or are we trusting in God?”
Trusting God Now
Almost two decades later as a father of three children I find myself learning to look to God as my Source and trust Him for the needs of five people –not just one. The lesson that God began teaching me in that bookstore applies just as much now as it did when I was one lone student. God is the Provider for my family. He can be trusted. We can risk some off what we have today and trust Him for what we need tomorrow.
Three years ago we believed God was leading us to take a huge step of faith and resign from my current position without a job – trusting Him for the next step.
On an October prayer retreat at Ridgecrest Conference Center, I stretched out facedown on the cement slab of a shelter my children used during summer camp. I prayed, Lord, I have no idea how I am going to provide for my family. Christmas is coming, and I will need money for Christmas presents for them. But Father, if I know you are leading us, I will step out and obey You. The Father confirmed that day to my wife and I to move forward, and I resigned that afternoon – a scary move.
One month later, a friend took me out to lunch. I had told no one my fear of not having money for Christmas presents. Leaving the restaurant, he followed me to my car, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, Rhett, I believe that you have obeyed the Lord and I respect you for stepping out in faith. I know that Christmas is coming, and you want to bless your children. I just want you to know that I support you as you follow God. He handed me a sealed envelope filled with $1000.00 in cash.
As we stepped out in faith those days, the Lord eventually led us to be part of another ministry. Our former church decided to graciously pay me for several months after my resignation, and by the time that ended, I was working in my new position.
Life continues to hold challenges for my wife and me of trusting in God’s financial provision. We work. We give. We try and spend wisely. We trust Him to care for us. And we continue learning the lesson that we can depend on the God who sees us and knows our needs – both today and tomorrow.