by Sharman J. Monroe
A few years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to get closer to God. I was excited about my resolution and glad I made it. In my mind, I saw myself getting up at 4 a.m. everyday and intensely studying scripture, learning spiritual concepts and historical context, and ultimately discovering the deep meaning behind the words in the Bible. My massive concordance and Bible dictionary were going to get dog-eared pages. Bring it on!
When I made this resolution, my income came partly from an IRA and partly from self-employment. After a quick calculation, I saw my IRA funds would be gone by May so I focused on doing things to make my business grow. I worked and worked but my business income didn’t increase. In fact, it did just the opposite; it decreased. When the end of May rolled around, my income dried up and my daughter, who lives with me, lost a job she just got in February.
Before I go further let me give you a picture of our lifestyle. We live in a single-family detached home worth a little less than half a million dollars. It is full of the usual modern toys: TVs, computers, VCRs, DVD players, cell phones and video game console sets. We own two cars and have closets full of clothes and shoes. We like to shop, eat out and travel. Not to shabby.
During the first week of June, I came home and found a notice on the front door saying the gas was cut-off due to non-payment. I talked to God about the situation. He reminded me it was summer and we didn’t need to heat the house. As long as the electricity was on for the air conditioning, we could manage. We cooked our food on the grill and in the microwave. God also pointed out that He created water and water didn’t have to be hot to cleanse us. Man-made systems to heat water were a convenience, not a necessity. We took cold showers which felt good since it was 90 plus degrees outside. I kept talking to God and going about my daily routine. I recited scripture out loud. My favorite was Romans 8:28:
We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Then the internet service was turned off due to non-payment and because our home phone service relied on the internet, we couldn’t use the phone. I talked to God and He pointed out we both had aircards so we could still get on-line to do stuff and we had cell phones. I swallowed and said okay. Then the TV service was turned off due to non-payment. I got very scared and nervous. I called my former employer to get my job back or a contract position. The agency said it would love to hire me as a contractor and agreed to the amount I wanted to be paid. My hire, however, had to be approved by the director who was just holding down the fort since it was an election year and he would be gone in November.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8
By this time my daughter went into an emotional melt down. She cried saying things like I had made a mistake quitting my job, being self-employed was not working and I had to back to work somewhere, anywhere, right now because we were going to lose everything. She cried that she would never get a teaching job again because she didn’t have her certification. And worst of all, none of her friends liked coming to the house to visit because I was not friendly. I was devastated. I went into my office and started crying. A friend called at that moment to chat. When she heard what my daughter had said to me, my friend reminded me that none of it was true and Satan was using her to cause me to fear and not trust God. I agreed. We prayed together.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” Job 1:8
In late June, I received a letter out of the blue from a brokerage firm saying it was willing to buy back some investments I had bought the year before for the same amount of money I had paid for them. I sold the investments back. My daughter got a severance check. I paid my tithes. The internet and TV services’ overdue amounts were paid and the services restored. We paid the electric bill, bought groceries and put gas in the cars.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33
I told my daughter she would get a job in September; she wasn’t buying it. She spent most of her time angry and depressed. She moped in her bed most of the day. She asked me just about every if I had heard from my former employer. I called but heard nothing good. I was so double-minded and felt under so much pressure from my daughter. She wanted me to go work for somebody but I knew God had told me to quit my job and follow a new path He would show me.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
In July, my daughter’s cell phone was turned off due to non-payment. She panicked and cried because her contact number on her resume was her cell phone, not the house phone. I borrowed money from a friend so she could pay her bill. Then I realized I was making my daughter an idol and I stopped taking in her stress and trying to keep her calm; I turned her over to God. Before the month was over, both of us received money. I paid my tithes; we paid the bills and brought food.
Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22
In August, the second and final property tax bill for the year arrived. My car insurance lapsed. I was overcome with fear. I called my financial advisor, who is also a reverend, crying. I said never should have quit my job and I had ruined everything for my family cause the family home was going to be sold for non-payment of taxes. We met, talked about God, worshiped and prayed. Then she told me I could access funds in my second IRA account which I had thought was unavailable to me until I turned 70. We added up the bills and she transferred the necessary amount. I paid my tithes, the property taxes my car insurance, the bills and even went on a trip!
For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
By September, my daughter had a job (gasp!). She started in a shared position at half her usual salary which turned in a full position at full salary within 10 days. (Bless God!). The weather stayed warm until November which was when we had enough money to have the gas turned on so we could heat the house. (by the way, my church paid part of the bill). On Thanksgiving we had so much food on the table, my son was able to take home more than enough leftovers for his family of five.
Needless to say, I got closer to God that year, just not the way I expected. Experience is, indeed, the best teacher. I trust God like I never did before. His faithfulness is real to me. I know that praising God and saying His Word out loud when I am going through adversity confuses the devil and he does flee. Whenever I get nervous about what I see going on in my life, I have that summer to remind me of my God’s character and of His unfailing love for me.
And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him. Psalm 37:40
The morale of this story: When God says “Yes” to your prayers, your answer will come, just not the way you expected!
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. Isaiah 55:8
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