Despite the agony we knew in Payne City, I told the Lord I was willing to stay there as long as He desired. I looked to Him to provide the money to pay the rent of $500 a month, if He desired that we should stay longer than the six weeks we were offered free. The money never came in, and, about a week before our time there was up, a couple we knew called and said that they wanted for our family to come stay with them in the country during the month of November. They had prayed about it and felt the Lord was leading them to set this offer before us. Our free time at the house in Payne City ended October 31st, so this was a very timely offer.
It was a tremendous change going from the tension we knew in this crime ridden neighborhood, to a house in the country. It was just what my wife needed, and she enjoyed her stay immensely. Kristin and Josiah also greatly enjoyed this time, for this couple had a son and daughter that were nearly the same ages as our children, and they had a wonderful time together. This family even had an outside pen for our dogs to stay in, and in this way God met all of our needs.
Although I also appreciated the change of atmosphere, I did not enjoy our stay to the extent of the rest of my family. Part of the reason was that this couple thought I was in disobedience for not working, and they saw their offer as an opportunity for me to find a job. I had tried to explain to people before that God had told me that I was to trust Him for our provision, and in every instance I had been unsuccessful in convincing anyone. I could understand people’s incredulity, for it was hard to explain why God would let me go through bankruptcy, and lose our house and van, if He had called me to trust Him for our provision. So few saints have any understanding of God’s discipline in the lives of His children, that I found it impossible to speak to them of it.
As a result I had to simply bear the reproach of everyone who considered me to be a deluded reprobate who was too lazy to get out and work to support his family. These judgments chafed at me very much, and I agonized over God’s will. I was pleased that God was providing for us, but not that He was doing so in such a way that I was open to everyone’s criticism. This caused me to doubt at times whether I had heard God aright, for the weight of every man’s opinion was against me.
When we arrived at this couple’s house, I sensed that the Lord would have me speak to the husband about some things he was pursuing in his life. We had once fellowshipped together at the same church, and had been good friends. We had been able to speak freely about matters together. Yet the first time we started a conversation he told me up front, “Your being here at our house is about you, and not about me.” In this way, he very peremptorily cut off any discussion we might have had.
I was so discomfited that I spent my first week there fasting. While the rest of my family were enjoying themselves immensely, and taking great delight in the wonderful things our hostess was cooking, I continued to struggle. Daily I would go outside by myself and pray. I was very depressed in my thoughts, for it was difficult staying in the house of friends who judged me as a transgressor. I longed to have a single person whom I could share with who would understand this path God had called me down, and who would offer me encouragement along the way.
I was also filled with anxiety as I considered what we would do when our month was up with this couple. They had told the members of their church that I was out of work, and this resulted in various members sending me job applications from businesses they knew to be hiring. It was impossible to tell these people that I wasn’t looking for a job, so I just took the applications and said thank you. The thought that I would have nowhere to go at the end of the month would nag at me, and I thought of all these people judging me to be a fool for not seeking a job when I had the opportunity.
All these things contributed to my lack of enjoyment during this time. I was a bit upset that my wife was able to have such a good time while I could not. No one judged her as a transgressor. Everyone expected me to do my duty as a husband and father, and to be the breadwinner. I was seen as the transgressor, while my wife was viewed as a victim of my disobedience. This had been the judgment of the ministers who had rejected me, and this judgment seemed to follow me around like some hellish burden.
I felt very constrained by the Spirit still, and I would have violated my conscience had I gone out and taken a job. I still felt that I would be forfeiting a great blessing of God had I abandoned this walk of faith, so I continued to wrestle with God and I decided that, for better or worse, I would look to Him to provide, and if I perished, then I perished.
About a week before our time was up with our friends I felt a growing conviction that we were to sell our remaining furniture and possessions and purchase a motorhome to travel in. We had stored all of our things in our friends’ barn, and since they were out in the country, it was not a very good place to have a sale. I decided to rent a truck and take everything back to our house in Fort Valley, which was technically still ours until the foreclosure was finalized, and I would have a yard sale there.
My family and I packed a large moving truck full of our possessions, and I drove it to town. We had some friends who lived a block up from our old house, and they said we could stay with them while we had the sale. Early in the morning I went down to our house to set things out of the truck, to be displayed for sale. I could not have imagined the result we were to have. People began showing up much earlier than I had anticipated, and they were buying everything. I did not even have time to price the items.
Things became so hectic that I had people climbing up into the back of the moving truck to see what else I had for sale. Some men even volunteered to help me unload the truck so they could see what else was in there. I was literally spinning in circles trying to keep up with it all. People were asking for prices right and left, and I was handling everything as best as I could. By that afternoon everything that I had brought to sell had sold, with the exception of a washer and dryer, and I had a man leave me a business card asking me to call him if I did not sell them. So I called him and he bought these last two items, though he gave me less than I had wanted.
It was evident that God wanted me to sell all of our possessions in this manner, for I had never seen a yard sale like this one before. It was like some angel had whipped the crowd into a frenzy of buying. I had thought of continuing the sale the next day, but there was no need, for everything had sold. God was going to start our family over fresh. He had us get rid of all things that tied us to a past of disobedience, and we were going to begin anew in obedience.
Our month was over with our friends in the country, and with the money I had made with this sale I was able to rent a hotel room in Perry, Georgia. I finally knew some rest in my soul there, for I was not living with the judgment and criticism of others. It was a great relief for me to retire to our hotel room in peace.
I did not have nearly enough money to purchase a motorhome, but my wife’s parents had given all their children and their spouses a financial gift at Christmas every year since we had been married. With this in mind, we began looking at some motorhomes, and even drove to the Atlanta area to look at a couple of used vehicles, but we did not see any that we liked. We all felt a lack of peace with these first few motorhomes we had looked at.
We had been in the hotel about a week when my wife’s parents did something they had never done before. They had always given their children money on Christmas day, without deviation, but this year they decided not to have a Christmas gathering at their home, and they presented my wife with a check on December 8th. The check was for $8,000. Eight is the number of new beginnings, and this number was to appear again and again in the next couple months as God set about bringing our family into a time of new beginnings.
My daughter Kristin was looking in a local paper that day and she found a motorhome for sale very close by, but the owner was asking $10,000 for it, and I figured that we could only spend about $6,000 for a motorhome. I told Kristin that the motorhome was too expensive, but she urged me to call the owners anyway. She said they might come down some on the price. To this I replied that they would have to come down about forty percent to bring it within range.
At my daughter’s insistence I called the owners and they described to me a 28 ½ foot motorhome that was fully self-contained with a generator, water holding tanks, a refrigerator that ran off of propane or electricity, a stove, a hot water heater and both roof and dash air conditioners. The motorhome was over fifteen years old, but it was in good shape and would sleep four people easily. It also contained a bathroom with a shower.
I told the lady who owned the motorhome that it sounded very nice, but that I only had $6,000 to spend. She did not sound put off by this statement, and she invited us to come take a look at it, saying that we could talk further about the price. I took our entire family to look at the motorhome, and as soon as we saw it every one of us knew it was the motorhome God wanted us to have. It was larger than some other RV’s we had looked at, and in better shape. It had good tires on it, and recently had new batteries bought for it as well.
After talking it over with my family, I offered this woman $6,300 and she accepted our offer. Since it was a Saturday, we arranged to meet at the bank on Monday to pay her for the motorhome and have the title transferred to our name. When I arrived on Monday the woman told me that she had a caller contact her about the motorhome on Sunday, and the caller appeared willing to pay her the full $10,000, but she told them that she had already promised the home to us. The woman selling the motorhome was a Christian, and she stood by her word to us. May the Lord bless her for that.
Some friends, Buzz and Donna Harrington, who lived in the same county we were in, contacted us and invited us to park our motorhome at their house for a while. This was evidently God’s leading, for He had been opening doors before us right when we needed one opened. So we parked at their house and remained there for about a month while they generously shared all their meals with us.
The motorhome was lacking a hitch to pull a car, so I had one installed. Another thing I needed was a tow bar to attach to a car in order to pull it. I also felt like I needed a smaller car than the four door we had, so I placed an ad in the paper to sell our car. I need not have done so, however, for when the Barnes family heard we were selling our car, they said they wanted it, and they would even give us a smaller two door car they had as part of the selling price. The tow bar was also acquired in an equally providential way.
While we were parked at the Harringtons, a friend of theirs from North Carolina stopped by, as he was on his way to Florida. When he heard we were looking for a tow bar he said that he knew a man in South Georgia who had a company that made some of the best tow bars in America, but he had recently closed his business. He said he would check with him and see if he had any left. Sure enough, this man had a few left and he agreed to sell us one for half the price they had been selling for. We not only were able to obtain a $600 tow bar for $300, but this man picked it up for us on his way to Florida, and brought it back to us when he returned the next week.
We were now completely outfitted and ready to hit the road. It was early January, 2001 when we left our friends’ house and headed for Jekyll Island, Georgia. Jekyll Island is a state park, and I had once lived there for three years before I was married. My wife and I had also honeymooned there, and it was one of our favorite places to visit on vacation. God was about to do some wonderful things as He revealed that we were in a time of new beginnings as a family.
This chapter is from the book: