When I left the Houston Healthcare Complex in October of 1999 after fourteen years of service, I was able to cash out my accrued vacation time, and the money from this carried us for a couple months. An annual gift from family, and then a tax refund, came in right on time and carried us through about April of 2000. We were still carrying all of our debt, and making payments each month as I had when I was still employed. I had expected that God would be pleased with our obedience in following Him in this step of faith and that He would either manifest some provision to pay off all of our debts, or He would give us what we needed to continue paying all our bills month by month. God had other plans, however.
Yahweh was always faithful to provide for us the necessities of life. We always had food, clothing and a roof over our heads, but He felt no obligation to pay for all the things I had purchased through debt and disobedience. As part of my own flesh cutting experience, He was going to break me of this stronghold of covetousness and then lead me and my family into a fresh beginning where we would walk contentedly, thanking Him for whatever He chose to provide for us. The financial death that Charles Newbold had prophesied some months earlier was to come quickly.
I continued spending my days praying, writing new articles and answering correspondence. Finances became tight and our bills began to get behind. I was very concerned about this, and I could not understand why the Lord was not manifesting His provision, for I felt bound in my spirit to not seek any employment. I was absolutely convinced that had I done so I would have been in great disobedience to the will of God and would be walking in unbelief. Our bills for the van and the house became one month late, and then two months late, and then three months late.
Despite my complete inability to pay these large bills, God would send us support in small amounts to pay our utilities and to purchase some gas and groceries, though these things were tight as well. We were not able to be as extravagant as we once were in our shopping, and we became bargain shoppers. We only had one occasion when we had to forego buying meat for a week, or more. We had been accustomed to eating meat daily, with most every meal, and during this time Tony and the kids began voicing how much they were missing it.
I was reminded of God’s testing of Israel in the wilderness. He let them suffer hunger and thirst on occasions to test their hearts. He fed them with manna for forty years, and the Israelites, who were accustomed to a much more varied diet in Egypt, began grumbling about missing the melons, leeks, onions, garlic, and fish that had once been a part of their diet. Although God’s provision for them was perfect, and just what they needed to break off their bondage to the appetites of the flesh, they did not appreciate what God provided. They grumbled and murmured against God. The Scriptures state:
Numbers 11:1, 4-6
Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of Yahweh… The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”
If it were not so tragic, I could almost laugh at the description given here. The Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write that the people began to complain like those who were suffering adversity. Where was the adversity? Their existence was truly remarkable. They had just been delivered from Egypt, having seen the greatest nation and the greatest army on earth made a mockery of by Yahweh. They had crossed through the Red Sea on dry land, and God had then performed a great miracle by making the skies rain food for them every night. These were a blessed people who were experiencing things that had never been witnessed by any other people from the beginning of time.
Where was their adversity? Their complaint was that they missed the produce and meat of Egypt. Though they had come out of their slavery to the Egyptians, they were still slaves to their flesh and its appetites. God was not pleased with their grumbling, so he spoke to Moses:
“Say to the people, “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the ears of Yahweh, saying, “Oh that someone would give us meat to eat! For we were well-off in Egypt.” Therefore Yahweh will give you meat and you shall eat. You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you; because you have rejected Yahweh who is among you and have wept before Him, saying, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?’'”
This scene was in my mind when we had gone some days without meat, and I was not about to begin murmuring in the same fashion. We actually experienced a few days when all we had in the house was a bag of grits and some butter. For those who have not eaten grits, I suspect that their texture is not far from that of manna. For us, it was Southern manna, and I could imagine God watching me to see if I would also complain about this provision. You could not have coerced me to say a negative word about what we were eating, for I knew what came next for the Israelites.
Now there went forth a wind from Yahweh and it brought quail from the sea, and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp and about two cubits deep on the surface of the ground. The people spent all day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers) and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of Yahweh was kindled against the people, and Yahweh struck the people with a very severe plague.
I gathered my family together and I told them that we needed to rejoice over the grits God had provided for us, for they were hearty and filling. In truth, every member of my family enjoyed eating grits, and would often request them. The complaint arose because they did not have anything else, and the flesh craves a variety of rich delicacies. I reminded my family of the Israelites, and I encouraged them to be thankful to God for what we had.
It wasn’t long before God honored our attitude of thankfulness. We had not told anyone of our situation, when a man I had worked with at the hospital called us and said that he had a freezer full of deer meat he needed to get rid of. He asked if we would like the meat. Not only does my family enjoy deer meat, but it is perhaps our favorite type of meat. This man and his wife brought over a huge cooler full of deer steaks, deer roast, deer sausage, and ground deer meat and they completely filled up a freezer we kept at the back of our house. We ate off of that meat for weeks, and it was absolutely delicious. I made some deer jerky out of one of the roasts that my children still talk about to this day.
There was no doubt in my mind that God was testing us as He had done the Israelites, and I was determined to pass the tests brought to us. We saw many incredible provisions at this time, and were becoming accustomed to seeing the hand of God moving on our behalf, yet I was still unable to pay my major bills. I had much dread in my heart about what God should make me walk through, and I cried out often for His hand of provision. But like David when he cried out for the life of his son to be spared after his sin with Bathsheba, God would not relent of His judgment and correction. A day came in September of 2000 when we were all in the house doing various things when the power was cut off. I knew the city had cut off the electricity because I had been unable to pay the power bill.
My wife and kids came into the room and asked what we should do. I told my wife to call our friends’ Randy and Barbara Barnes and see if they could go stay with them for a while, for they had previously made such an offer. Tony called, and they were invited to come on out, though I decided to stay at home with our two dogs. This arrangement would give me time alone to pray and seek God’s face.
Despite our predicament, I was observing signs of God’s working in my life in so many ways that it was hard to doubt that we were walking according to the path God had set before us. When I had begun going through tests of faith, and was being buffeted by fear, anxiety and worry, I considered that my greatest enemy was fear. I was reminded of the account of Yahshua and His disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat when a fierce storm came up. We are told that Yahshua was sleeping on a cushion in the boat while the disciples were becoming more and more alarmed. Things looked so desperate to them that they thought they would sink and surely perish, so they woke up the Lord and said, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” Yahshua was not alarmed at all, but spoke to the wind and the sea to be calm and it was immediately calm. He then chided the disciples for their unbelief.
I was captivated by this true story, and I told the Lord that I wanted to have the kind of peace that Yahshua had, for if I had peace then I could go through any circumstance and it would not trouble me. When I prayed these words to God, He answered me clearly and said, “I can give you this peace, but I will have to take you through some storms to get you there.”
The date that our power was cut off I was home alone, except for our two dogs, and I slept in a recliner in our front room next to the door so that I could get a breeze from outside. September in Georgia is often very hot, and it was so at this time. That night a terrific thunder storm came up, and it was perhaps the worst one I had ever witnessed up till then. We had a very wide covered front porch that extended out about ten feet from the front of the house, but the wind blew so hard that rain was coming into the front room where I was sitting. Lightning was striking furiously all around, and a tree right across the road split in two due to the wind and fell into the road, blocking traffic.
The storm was horrendous, and it matched the storm that was raging in my soul, for I had many fears and worries about what might lie ahead of us, and I had been tossed about all day. The next day was a Saturday and the mail brought a notice of foreclosure on our house, and another letter stating that our van was to be repossessed. In my spirit it was dawning upon me that God was not going to deliver me from this discipline as I had hoped, but that I was going to receive a more severe correction this time around for going into debt. It appeared that God was going to strip us of all those things I had gained through disobedience, but at the same time He was providing everything we needed to live.
I stayed home alone for a week, and I was riding my bicycle to the library to keep up with my correspondence and to ask some people to pray for my family and I. I was not driving our car because I did not have the money to pay the insurance. God put it in my heart to have a yard sale to begin selling some of our possessions, but I did not even have enough money to buy some posterboard and a marker to hang up a yard sale sign. A check came in the mail for fifteen dollars, and I knew the Lord wanted me to use this to buy these materials. I then had a yard sale and took in about a thousand dollars.
My wife and children called from the Barnes’ and said that everyone wanted me to come out and that we could put the dogs in a pen, so I went to join them. While there I talked to my wife about our options, and I told her that there was a ministry in a nearby state that I wanted to check out to see if God would open a door for us to join them. I had spoken of this before, and it was much on my mind, so we took our children to my sister’s in Mississippi, and Tony and I borrowed their pop-up tent trailer and headed to North Carolina. It rained the entire way, and we never saw sunshine. We rented a campsite for a week, but after three days we knew definitely that God was not leading us to join this ministry. There was not even a hint of opening, and I had no witness in my spirit that we were to be there. The campground manager generously refunded our money for the unused days.
The Spirit spoke one thing to me before we left North Carolina. He said, “I want you to go home and get your finances in order.” He then told me I was going to have to declare bankruptcy to do so. We picked up our children in Mississippi and the next day we returned to Georgia. As we crossed into Georgia the sun came out for the first time in five days. I knew we were back where God wanted us to be, and I set about doing that which God had instructed me to do.
From the book:
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