1/2/97 “Memory Verse: ‘Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God’ Psalm 20:7”
2/1/97 “I am remembering the men and women of the past who were literally down to their last penny when God recued them. I’m not there yet so, I should just keep working and wait on Him.”
2/3/97 “O LORD, I’m going to take another $1500-$2000 from our savings today to pay our bills. Please, help me see and understand joblessness from your perspective. I can only guess that this is a season of refinement-- an equipping for ministry. Jesus became poor—then he preached to the poor with powerful words and stories. Perhaps the same is needed for me, but it is really tough.
2/16/97 Received this letter from a friend who’d just finalized the adoption of a child.
Steve, This money is part of a thank offering for (name of child). Please, have no hesitation to use it as you need…. Brotherly love, O.
The note included a check for $400.00.
2/28/97 “Sigh. I’m tired. My prayers are just repetitions from yesterday, and last week, and the month before. It isn’t that I doubt Him at all. I’m just weary from the duration of the wait—15 months of ups-n-downs….
Today’s hopes become tomorrow’s disappointments and I’d just as soon avoid the steep fall from elevated expectations. I feel like a P.O.W. must. I know we’ll win the war, and that help is on the way, but I’ve watched the skies and strained to hear a chopper’s wings "whop-whop-whop" so long, that it’s easier not to always be looking up. I can’t wait for it to be over, but until it is…it isn’t.
"LORD, the drought is difficult. Waiting is hard. I sure wish this were over. Meanwhile, I know what I should ask for—patience and help to endure. Help me endure, but also…..send relief. We need an income. Please, bless my work with growth, but LORD, be quick to respond to both endurance and income. Thank you.”
3/3/97 A $1000 gift from R&SW and an encouraging note!
3/8/97 “Several times in the past 2 weeks the words in John 14:27 have come to me and on two occasions it was during prayer. ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.’ I have found comfort in these verses.”
3/14/97 My mother's health was a cause for concern and attention. Her body was in pain around the clock and the meds she took often had odd side effects. When she could rest at night, her body would sometimes twitch violently. For a time I slept in a chair placed at the side of her bed as a kind of 'bumper guard'. If a muscle spasm sent her too close to the edge, it would wake me and I could keep her from falling to the floor.
Broken sleep combined with the drain of stress from searching for work have exhausted me. I went to the farm this morning, not to work, but to be alone with God and to think. As soon as I arrived I was overwhelmed with drowsiness so I napped. When I awoke, I immediately fell asleep again. The second time I awoke it was due to being startled by a knock on the body of the truck (I’d fallen asleep in the truck). The knock was a fallen walnut on the roof, but it caused me to become fully awake. I felt refreshed and alert. I believe the LORD knew I needed this rest.
After waking the second time, I read some of 1 and 2 Corinthians. 2 Corinthians was especially meaningful. The thoughts that most affected me were 2 Corinthians 1:9b, 3:4-6, 4:7, 4:11, and 6:3-10. Specifically, I was refreshed in being reminded from Paul's insightful teaching that sometimes when things are difficult it is to show us that there are matters larger than ourselves, and that we need God. Sometimes, it seems it was for Paul’s good that hardships came, while at other times it was for his listener’s benefit that he suffered.
I also found in 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 some things I’ve recently struggled with.
Having read and considered these verses, I stepped out of my truck, walked a few feet, and prayed. Actually, I began praying aloud when it seemed that God –through my thoughts- began addressing what I was going to pray about! He instructed me to, ‘Keep on, one day at a time, doing whatever He put before me to do that day."
I was about to ask Him, “But what am I to do, and what about the future?” when the answer came, “Trust me.” It seems I’m to trust Him a day at a time. I’m to follow Him without an idea of where we’re headed. Sounds like Abram’s situation, or Moses’ (Not at all comparing myself to them, but comparing with their call to follow Him into an unknown future.).”
NOTE: During the end of March I bottomed out. Africa had difficult days in its own ways—malaria, threats of violence, cultural clashes, government instability—but March in Appalachia holds its own room in my “Museum of Low Moments”. Though God had provided for us for months, it was a daily, grinding sort of thing. I never knew what was ahead of this week, or today (except for bills that I knew would be due). I had not learned to comfortably trust Him. (Biblically, this is known as “doubting”.) My stomach stayed in a knot. In other words, “I worried.” This worry was a sign that I had not yet understood God.
Most employees arrive Monday morning and put in their forty hours till Friday. The boss pays them at the end of the week. What would the boss think if his employee took the check and with obvious relief sighed aloud, “Wonderful! I am so very thankful. I thought I might not be paid this week!”? If I were the boss, I’d get the idea that my employee doubted my honesty.
Most employees expect their employer will pay them. When pay checks are delivered, few worry if it will bounce. Such an attitude would actually reveal the employee’s distrust of his employer’s abilities or integrity. In my case, I was not yet trusting my employer—God. (You can look forward to 3/11/00 when I'll report evidence of growth in this area.)
After several weeks it was apparent that sign painting was not going to be the answer to our income needs. I was too slow and speedy equipment was so expensive that investing in it seemed too great a risk. At the same time, local evangelism was stagnant. Casual friendships were growing in number, but meaningful in-roads into the community were not. I saw the overwhelming community needs (spiritual and social), but had not found anyone open to the personal changes that community healing would require. Almost daily I doubted the decision to move to Jellico, but some deep sense of having been chosen for this place/people would not let me walk away. This inner conviction held my feet in the fire. I believed that God wanted to do something significant for Appalachia, and He wanted us involved.
Looking back, during that month I was on the bottom, but God was not far away. He never is--especially when we are on the bottom, or squeezing our last penny. The next entry in my journal demonstrates the unimaginable way in which He lifted us up on tall shoulders.