Do you remember the Blog series I wrote in June on our Year of Financial Discipline?
If not, please take a moment, and catch up here! God worked some AMAZING miracles for us, praise His name:
1) Jesus Loves Me This I Know
2) Seeing God’s Provision
3) God Loves Me Too Much To Keep Me As I Am
So so many of you dear sweet friends, have written me privately, asking me how things are going now?
Remember, when the Lord gave the following verse to me early on, and I BEGGED HIM, pleasepleaseplease don’t let it be a WHOLE year of financial “drought”.
Jeremiah 17:8 “He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
October 28th, 2010 we received our last “normal” paycheck (whatever “normal” is in a commission only job) and began a journey to a new us. A journey that included trusting in God to provide for today ONLY today’s needs, no extra. A journey to humbly being on the OTHER end of a grocery drive or gracious giving, time and time again. A journey that included a tearing down of us, our dreams, our plans for our financial future.
On October 28th, 2011 we were removed from the Refiners Fire in the area of Finances. We felt it occur like a breath of FRESH air. Like someone opening the door while you are sitting in a sauna room.
This is how it went:
Around the 3rd week of October, 2011, both Dale and I felt the Lord had told us (separately, in different ways) that our year of financial discipline was coming to a close. Good, I thought, it’s been a year almost to the day: October 28th is just around the corner.
It was just past this year mark, when we bounced our first check.
Ugh, SERIOUSLY LORD!?
All these months of discipline, all these months of no money, yet all the bills getting met just as they come due, and NOW at the end of the year mark, when we are hoping for reprieve, THIS?! A bounced CHECK!?!?!?!?
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.
Enough is enough!
You can imagine our heart-break. All along we had been saying:
“Look how God is providing, we have had this awful year of low pay and high bills and look…not one bounced check.”
It was like our “proof” of God’s faithfulness or something. Here we thought our time of drought was over and the harvest had come, then whammo, bounced check…..
I think that last little bit of a crutch needed to be removed. I think it needed to be a full on, 100%, God doesn’t need my “Proof”, kind of experience before it could be over. That bounced check was a breaking point for Dale. I found him weeping in our darkened room early one morning, kneeling by the chair crying out to God:
“Why? Why must we continue this path of discipline? We are stripped of all we are, please, take this financial discipline from us, it’s too much.”
I sat down on the ottoman, wrapped my arms around him and prayed for my broken man. He stopped crying and praying, and looked up with the most amazed expression on his face and says:
“I just heard Him say, ‘It’s always darkest before dawn.”
A flicker of Hope. A breath of Fresh Air.
3 weeks later, we got 4 checks in one week, unheard of this past year.
Then, clients started calling Dale and asking him to come write them some business, and while he was there, could he take the name of their friends, too?
WHAT?! Praise you, Jesus!
This was when we noticed we had been removed from the Refiners Fire & the rain drops of blessing were beginning to fall. No kidding. Our “Year of drought” literally ended a year after it began, just as the verse had promised.
This will be the 3rd time I have posted this letter on the blog, but I think it’s important you read it again, because it describes exactly what occurred! It is to be read as if your Heavenly Father is speaking to you:
My dear one, my refining fire was never intended to hurt you, only to help you.
When the firing is complete I won’t leave you in the heat one second more than is necessary, but will RUN to you and deliver you into my loving arms.
Can I not remove you from the heat of the fire in a split instant… into the Oasis of my love?
I am pleased pleased pleased with you, my child. Don’t doubt for a minute my immense love for you……
You will never on this earth know what measures of my love I am bestowing on you and your family in these days. I’m only giving you a glimpse here and there. Don’t fear in these days, my dear one. You’re not passing through the fire alone.
You may not feel my hand or see my loving face, but I’m here… right beside you… silently, quietly, patiently, holding your hand.
I love you,
We have passed through the Fire, and now are in the Oasis of His love! Praise His name!
One day, my families financial “store house” will be full again, maybe even overflowing. No matter what, we’ll always be able to look back on this time and see God’s finger prints all over it. We learned such valuable lessons, and sadly, it took lack of finances to get our attention and refocus it on our Father and His desire to provide for our every need, big or small.
We’ve learned to not waste another MINUTE of these precious moments in time, worrying about what we will eat, what we will wear, how I can pay several thousand dollars worth of bills when the numbers DO NOT ADD UP, because time and time again, month after month, week after week, minute after minute, He will take care of my family….just in time. He is rarely early and NEVER late.
We’ve learned that we NEVER want to take on the spirit of self-sufficiency again! No matter how comfortable things seem, we want to commit everything to HIM! Our finances, Dale’s job, our marriage….all of it.
We’ve learned that we don’t want to be “Lazy givers” and just throw a little money at every good cause that comes our way. We want to commit to prayer what we should do, knowing full well, we may be asked to volunteer our time, resources or prayers instead of cash.
We’ve let go of the “American Dream” and are making serious plans to get out of debt, even working towards selling off our “Dream Land” we prayed so many years for.
2011 will no doubt go down as the toughest in the history of our lives as a married couple. We have been broken down to nothing and built back up again. We have been redefined down to our core beings. NEVER have we been stretched so much, never have we spent more time in the refiners fire being molded, chiseled and changed. NEVER have we felt the Lord’s gentle, loving hand more, as He held us up when we could no longer stand on our own two feet.
Now, we are in the midst of a quiet harvest:
Hebrews 12:6, 9-11 “For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children. For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”
I want to bottle up this experience up and carry it with me forever. I don’t want to “lose it” like you lose a spiritual high after coming home from Summer Church Camp. Somehow, I MUST take this and apply it, use it as a filter on my life from here forward, so that every purchase, every decision, every check to a good cause flows through that filter.
Like a country coming out of a time of famine, I know it will take time, even years, to build up our savings again, to catch up from a full year of belt-tightening, to look around and see the lush beauty of a land of bountiful crops.
But, one thing we can immediately count on is this:
“My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. The rain and the snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where briers grew, myrtles will sprout up. This miracle will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; it will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”
Isn’t that a beautiful image? “Where there were once thorns, cypress trees will grow.”
The ugly brown of drought is being lifted, as the faint green of harvest begins to peek it’s head through the cracked, dry soil.
One day, things will be lush and beautiful again, and it will be all for God’s glory…..
Praise be to God, for He is working in our lives in VERY real ways! The miracles occurring in these 4 walls will be a testament of His great power and love! Glory be to my Father in Heaven, who loves me too much to leave me as I am…..