After being in this home on Levie Road for a month it came time to pay for another month’s rent. Once more God’s provision did not include money to pay the rent on time. I was really grieved by this, and I argued with God some concerning this matter. I reminded Him that we had asked that if it was His will for us to remain in this area and intercede for this body of believers that He would give us a sign of His pleasure in this matter by opening up another house for us to move to. He had done so by sending a couple all the way from Illinois to secure a house for us on the very day that we began boxing up all of our things to move. This couple had entered our home and said, “I think I may have just rented your house for you.”
There was no doubt in our minds that God had gone before us in this matter, for we did not even have to look for this home. God brought it to us. I was extremely perplexed then, when God would not manifest His provision for us to continue to pay rent. I had to contact our landlords and tell them I did not have the money to pay them, but I was committed to do so as soon as the funds came in. The landlords were not willing to be patient with us at all in this matter, and when the rent was only a few days late they informed us that they were going to file at the local courthouse to have us evicted.
This news was very unsettling for my wife, and it was disturbing to me as well. We had never faced eviction before. Immediately, images began swirling around in our minds of the Sheriff coming to put all of our furniture out by the road. We had fears of being put out with no idea of where we would go. These, and similar anxieties, were to fuel the storms that would rage in our souls for the next few weeks. If I were perfected in my faith I would not have worried, instead I would have been able to sleep as soundly as Christ did on the cushion in the boat while the storm raged around Him. God had given me plenty of assurances that things would be all right. He had spoken through my daughter during an earlier test and said, “You need not fear any trouble. Instead trust Me.”
I considered these words often in these days, as I re-read God’s words of prophecy to me. They did give me a measure of calm in the midst of the storm, but it was not a perfect calm. In this same prophetic word God had said, “Those who place their trust in Me need never fear, for I am a just God,” and again He said, “Put away all foolish thoughts of doubt and unbelief, for great is my reward to those who trust in Me.” These words became my defense against the storms that we were encountering, and I would daily do battle by meditating upon what God had spoken to me. I had to choose whether I would walk by sight, or walk by faith, trusting in the words of God as more real than the events that were conspiring against us.
I mentioned before how God had prepared us for the test of faith when we first moved to Montezuma by having a Christian brother send me a book on the life of Rees Howells. When I first opened this book and looked in the index I saw a chapter titled Called Out From Wage Earning, and this was the very first chapter I read, for God was calling me to leave my job at the college, and I wanted the encouragement of another man who had walked in a similar place. Rees Howells also experienced tests, but God was faithful to see him through all of them. I had not even known this book was coming, but God knew I needed to be encouraged by the witness of it at this time. He spoke to me further through the chapter Standing in the Queue, which gave us the boost we needed to stand during our own time of testing.
This was not to be the last time God would prepare me for a test by placing it upon some saint’s heart to send me a book. Just before we moved to the home on Levie Road, another brother in Christ sent me a copy of Bill Britton’s biography called “Prophet on Wheels.” In this book Bill Britton described a time when God called him to also trust God for his provision as he committed himself to ministry. Bill gave up a lucrative insurance sales job to follow God in obedience, and then God did not provide according to his expectation. Bill ended up having his nice car repossessed, and they too faced being cast out of their home for not being able to make their payments. Bill began to complain to God about the poor provision they were seeing. The following is taken from his writing titled Hebrews – A Book of Better Things.
One time, years ago, we were living in a little house at the edge of a village in Carney, Oklahoma. Our only bathroom was an outdoor privy, or an outhouse, as some call them. We had no hot water in the house. In fact, until we were able to have a well dug, we had no water at all and had to carry water from a neighbor’s house. It was during this time that our youngest girl, Rachel, was born and seeing my wife have to take care of herself and her newborn baby under these conditions, began to do something to me.
I had been successful in the insurance business and was zone manager for a very fine company, but the Lord had pressed on my spirit to quit my job and give full-time to the ministry of writing and radio preaching. Our expenses were heavy and had been sufficiently met by my earnings at my job. But when I was without a job, the expenses went on while the money coming in was cut off. Things got in very bad shape. Financially, it seemed that the door to heaven was closed. Night after night I would stand in the field behind our house and look up at the stars and say, “Father, I know you own every one of those stars. I know you own the cattle on a thousand hills. You have in your hands the hearts of millionaires who would not even miss the amount that it would take to bring us through this financial crisis. Father, I do not doubt your ability to meet our needs. The question in my heart is, why are you not meeting those needs? Why are you letting us go like this?”
Night after night I cried to God. Our bills were getting behind. We hardly had money to feed our children. We lost our car and it looked as though we would lose our little home. Unknown to me, a bitterness against God was beginning to creep into my heart. I did not recognize this until one night I went to a service in Oklahoma City.
The preacher was preaching on the first part of Hebrews 3. I had with me an Amplified New Testament, and began to read this chapter in the Amplified, reading ahead of where he was preaching. I came to verse 8, and in the Amplified it says: “Do not harden your hearts, as happened in the rebellion of Israel and in their provocation and embitterment of Me in the day of testing in the wilderness.” I stopped and read that phrase again, “embitterment of Me.” Then I realized that the children of Israel in the wilderness were bitter at God.
I said, “God, why were they bitter at you?” And the Lord spoke to me as I sat there in the service that night and said: “They became embittered at Me because they knew I could do better than give them bread and water. I gave them manna from heaven and water from the rock, but they lusted after flesh. They knew that if I desired, I could give them quail, and they were bitter at Me because I was not doing as much for them as they knew I was capable of doing.” I thought to myself, “what a wicked and rebellious people. They did not deserve to go into the promised land, becoming embittered like that at God.” Then the voice of the Lord spoke to me and said: “Son, that’s the condition you are in. You are becoming bitter at Me.” I cried out in horror, “Oh no, Lord, not me, I’m your son. I wouldn’t be bitter at you no matter what.” He said: “You are becoming bitter because you know in your heart and have faith to believe that I am able to meet all your financial needs; and yet, you are wondering why I am not doing it, and bitterness is coming into your heart.”
As the light of His Word shined upon my heart, I recognized that it was true, and right there in my seat, while the preacher in the pulpit was continuing his message, I had an altar call and cried out to God for repentance and for forgiveness. I said: “God if you will cleanse me from this awful thing, I will never complain or become bitter at any circumstance you bring me into, regardless of what it is.”
In his biography Bill shares of this same time, and goes on to comment that he told the Lord that even if they should lose their house that he would not complain a word to God. He said that if he and his wife and children were put out of the house that they would just join hands and sing praises to God as they walked down the country road leading away from their house. This experience came back to me as I found myself in similar straits. I did not want to murmur against God, yet I was very perplexed about the situation, and experiencing some anxiety.
It was not possible for us to go anywhere, for we did not have the money to rent another house. We had to simply wait for things to play themselves out and see what God would do for us. I gathered my family together and told them that we would continue to pray for God’s provision in our lives, and look to Him to deliver us. I read them the chapter from Bill Britton’s book where he faced his own crisis, and I told my family that we had to count the cost of our obedience.
The Spirit had shown me that the enemy is able to heap added torment upon us when we have not counted the cost of obedience and accepted it. I thought of what the worst thing was that could happen. We could be evicted by the Sheriff and have all of our possessions put out by the road. We could possibly lose all we owned of material goods. I considered whether I was willing to pay that price as an intercession for the people we were praying for, and as an act of obedience to God’s will. I determined that I was, and I shared this with my family. I asked them to also count the cost, for by doing so they would take away the enemy’s ability to torment them. When Satan came with his fear tactics saying that we could lose everything, we could simply respond, “I have already counted the cost and I am willing.” The threat would then lose its potency, and we could know peace.
Our landlords filed the eviction papers, and the Sheriff came out to have us sign the document. The papers then went back to the court and we had a couple weeks to come up with the rent or be put out. The weeks went by and no money came in to pay the rent. We began looking for the Sheriff to show up any day and place all of our belongings out by the road and to put us out as well. I continued to pray for grace, particularly that God would spare my wife from having to go through this experience. She had struggled mightily for weeks, but had at last come to a place where she said she was willing to trust God in this situation, and she would accept His will in the matter. This was a great victory and I made mention of it to God and asked for Him to spare Tony from this ignominy.
The day came when the Sheriff drove down the driveway, and I knew we were to receive the final news of our eviction. The Sheriff was a kindly gentleman. He told me the landlords wanted him to throw us out that day and put our belongings by the road, but he told them he didn’t do things that way. He said that he preferred to give people a period of grace to move out in an orderly fashion, and he would give us three more days to allow us to move our belongings. He was almost apologetic about his duty, and his gracious demeanor did wonders for my tense nerves.
God was to open up a place for us to move to the very next day, and we would end up getting all of our things moved in good fashion during the next three days. It happened to be Labor Day weekend, so some of our friends had time off from work and they helped us move. A couple we had known for a number of years, Randy and Georgina Mills, had heard of our predicament and they prayed and felt like the Lord would have them to offer for our family to come and live with them for a time. We could place our belongings in their garage, and we could also help them out by completing some remodeling projects on their home. I prayed about this offer and felt the Lord would have us to accept it. We would end up staying with this couple for five months.
God gave us some confirmations of His tremendous grace being loosed to us at this time. I had prayed for grace in this situation, and it had impressed me that the Sheriff had used the word grace when he said that he preferred to give people a grace period to move their things in an orderly fashion. When I remembered these words it seemed to me that God had deliberately led this man to use this term to show me that He had heard my prayer. Another testimony of God’s grace being extended to us was to occur on the day we moved out. I did not set my alarm on the Sunday we were to move, but I woke up and looked at the clock and it was exactly 5:00 AM. Five is the Scriptural number for grace, and it was very unusual that I would wake up at this time, for I had been in the habit of waking between six and seven.
When I checked the news on the computer that morning I was faced with an even more remarkable confirmation. The headlines read:
Texas braces for wind, rain as Grace nears
(CNN) –As Tropical Storm Grace moved steadily closer to the Texas Gulf Coast, Hurricane Fabian churned far east of the Caribbean, the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said Sunday.
At 5 a.m. EDT, Grace was about 115 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, and moving to the northwest near 14 mph, forecasters said. That motion would bring the storm’s center across the Texas coast sometime Sunday.
Strong winds and rain from the storm have fallen over East Texas and southern Louisiana, forecasters said. They predicted rainfall accumulations of 6-8 inches in those areas, with higher amounts in some places.
A tropical storm warning remained in effect for the Texas coast from High Island to Corpus Christi.
The statements in this article were too incredible to be mere coincidence. The time given for this tropical storm update was 5 AM, five being the number of grace. Grace was 115 miles from Corpus Christi, 115 being 23 times 5, 23 signifying God’s provision as in the 23rd Psalm “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” and five once more being the number of grace. God was stating through this that His grace was being loosed in the area of provision. But the clincher is that it said Grace was heading toward Corpus Christi, which is Latin for “the Body of Christ.” I was in awe of what I read, and I knew Yahweh had set this sign before me for my encouragement.
We would be moved by the deadline given us by the Sheriff, and we would know five months with our friends, which was a period signifying grace. A week after we moved I received some money and I paid our landlords the balance of the rent I had owed them. I was not required to do so by law, but I sensed in the Spirit that it was the right thing to do, and I did not desire to defraud anyone. We experienced one more excruciating trial before all this was accomplished. I have skipped over it to tell the end of this matter first, but I will speak of this ordeal in the next chapter.
This is an excerpt from the book Evidence of Things Unseen: