An interesting thing occurred during our move to this house that I spoke of in the last chapter, the house with the security system. I had felt for some time that God would move us to this town which was called Fort Valley, and I had mentioned it to my wife some years earlier.
We were home owners previous to this move, having lived in a small, but new home that had been built for us six years earlier in Perry, Georgia. It was at this home in Perry that I had been disciplined by God for my covetousness and financial debt, and it was also here that I had gone into debt again and purchased a brand new Mazda pick-up truck. I had converted a garage at this house into a family room, doing all the work myself, but spending a lot of money in the process, money which I did not have, but had to borrow. One of the reasons we were selling the home was to pay down our debts, which were starting to become burdensome again.
I had already taken some steps to reduce our debt. The pick-up truck that I felt I just had to have, I kept for only a couple years, and then I traded it on a used Geo Tracker. I loved the Tracker. It was a little, sporty, four wheel drive vehicle with a removable soft top. I loved driving it around with the top off, enjoying the Georgia sunshine and the fresh air. The Tracker was much less expensive than the pick-up, and I was able to pay for it in full and get a clear title to it. We had a second car at this time which we were making payments on.
Our house in Perry sold after being on the market for only thirteen days. We also got our full asking price for the house, and when we had paid off the debt incurred in remodeling the garage we had about $6,000 to place as a down payment on another home.
We began looking for homes immediately, and through a strange chain of events we learned of a house that had been for sale for some time. Thieves had stolen the for sale sign out of the front yard, and the owner never had the sign replaced. There was no evidence that this home was even for sale. We contacted the owner, and he had already reduced the price tremendously, for the home market was depressed in this particular town, with many homes for sale and few buyers. We made an even lower bid, offering what we thought we could afford, using our $6,000 as a down payment, and amazingly to us, our offer was accepted.
Since we had to be out of our home in Perry, as it had already sold, the owner of this home in Fort Valley agreed to let us move in before we closed on the property, and to pay rent until the closing date. God had given me a very strong witness of His will for us to be here, and He had gone before us up to this point. I knew we were to move in, although I had no idea how I was going to come up with the closing costs, which included appraisal fees, termite inspection, surveying costs, bank loan processing fees, and attorney fees. All told, our portion amounted to about $3,600.
I was placing myself in a very vulnerable position by moving in ahead of the closing date, for it would be a great embarrassment to arrive at this date and not have the money on hand to pay these fees. Since I would already be in the house, I ran the risk of being asked to vacate with no idea of where I would go from there. On top of this, my mother lived just two doors down from this house, and she worked at a local manufacturing company in the same department with the man who owned the house.
My mother became rather agitated when she found I had set a closing date, and had moved in without having the money on hand to pay the closing costs. She said that I would surely embarrass her greatly when that date came. I told her that God had confirmed to me that we were to move here, and I was confident that when the date came I would have the money in hand.
My confidence remained high, and as the days ticked by I was looking daily for God’s provision. When we came to within a week of the closing date, and I still did not have the money, I then began to experience some troubling of my soul. On the day before the closing date I still did not have the money and the thought came to me that I should go and see what I could get for my beloved Tracker. I was in some perplexity at this time, and did not know if this was the voice of God, or if I should stand in faith looking for some other provision. In the end I decided to go and see what a dealer would give me for the vehicle.
The dealer I took my Tracker to checked the vehicle over thoroughly and then offered me $3,600 for it. This was the exact amount I needed for closing on the house. I accepted the offer and then called my wife to pick me up. The next day we used this money to close on the house. I struggled for a while with thoughts of whether God would have manifested some other provision if I had not sold the Tracker, but over time I became convinced that it was God’s will for me to sell this vehicle. I came to understand it as part of His discipline for my having gone back into debt again by buying the pick-up truck.
God began showing me a pattern of His dealing with me at this time. Before I had converted the garage into a family room at our previous home, I had bought a new ping pong table from Sears and set it up in the garage. I purchased the table on credit, and God never let me enjoy it. The garage was not air conditioned, and it was too hot during most of the year to be out in the garage without the door being opened. Our driveway was sloped, and every time the ping pong ball would go out the door, which was often, we would have to chase it all the way down to the road. Added to this, the Holy Spirit would bring me conviction about my sin of buying this item through debt, and this conviction took all the enjoyment out of the game. In the end, the Spirit showed me that the only thing I could do was to get rid of the table because it had been bought through disobedience. I ended up giving it to a church for their youth group to use.
As I mentioned, I later converted this garage into a family room, and it turned out more remarkable than I could have imagined. It was simply beautiful. I put in a designer ceiling, and a ceiling fan, with air conditioning vents in this room. We insulated everything and put up some lovely paneling on two of the walls, with sconce lighting fixtures that I had long admired. On the third wall, where the large garage door had been, my wife and I hung a wallpaper mural over the entire wall that depicted a grist mill in the mountains of North Carolina with a flowing stream and autumn colors in the trees. We put down linoleum on the floor, and we even installed a propane fireplace with a beautiful mantel along one wall. Capping this off, I had installed wiring for a stereo and had wall-mounted some Bose mini-cube speakers that provided awesome sound. Across the back of this room I had installed full length accordion doors to divide between the family room and the utility room where the washer and dryer were located, and in the doorway leading from the house to the garage I had installed a swinging door with a stained glass window.
I had never done such beautiful work in my life, and once more God would not let me enjoy it because I had paid for it all by applying for a credit line at a local hardware superstore. The room had only been finished a short time when God’s Spirit told me I was going to have to sell the house. Now, if the room had turned out poorly I would not have minded. But it was absolutely gorgeous. The mural itself was breathtaking and people would ooh and ahh when they walked into the room. God in His wisdom knows just how to discipline His children, and this child of His was not permitted to enjoy the fruits of disobedience. All my labor went to another man to enjoy. When God had me sell my pick-up truck, and then my Tracker, this pattern was continued. Those things purchased through debt and disobedience He would not allow me to keep and enjoy.
Even though God’s hand of discipline was upon me at this time, so too was His hand of mercy and grace. Although I had to sell the house I had fixed up, He had another house prepared for us, and He provided just the amount of money we needed to move in. With His grace came some discipline, and the vehicle I loved was part of the price.
I was learning lessons through all these things, and I was seeing how important were both faith and obedience. When God wanted to lead us into some new thing He would require faith on our part. For every act of disobedience He would also administer His discipline. How wise a Father He is. He does not allow His children to run around uncontrolled without disciplining them. As Paul wrote:
But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
Is it not a great manifestation of unbelief that so many Christians call God their “Father,” but they do not believe He disciplines them? What kind of a Father would He be if He did not discipline His children? What would we think of a man who let his children run around like a bunch of hellions without ever correcting them? We would not think very well of such a man. It does not speak well of many Christians’ conception of God when they do not recognize, or admit, His hand of discipline in their lives.
One thing I was to learn clearly in upcoming months and years was that, even when God disciplines us, He does not abandon us. I would not be a very good father if I told my children that they would no longer be given food, clothing, or a place to sleep while they were under my discipline for some infraction. No! I might put them on restriction, or give them a paddling, or ask them to make some type of restitution for their transgressions, but I would not withhold from them that which is necessary for them to live. Neither has God ever withheld any necessary thing from us during the times of our discipline.
Saints, I want to encourage you all to consider this. God is a much better Father than we are, yet Satan loves to torment us with thoughts that God has totally forsaken us due to some transgression. This is pure balderdash. There is not a thread of truth in it, yet I myself have spent many a worrisome day wondering whether God was still with me, filled with concern as to whether He would provide the necessities of life for my family and I. Listen to the words of Scripture:
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God…
Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son…
We are sons! Because we are sons our Father disciplines us. He does so because He loves us.
For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.
When we are experiencing the chastening hand of God, Satan will come to us and say, “God hates you. You offended Him now, and He has abandoned you completely.” What a pack of lies! We should expect such deceit from the father of lies, but we should not believe him. Certainly, if we do not respond with humble obedience to God’s chastening, He will have to increase the severity of it, but He will never remove His love from us.
I love my son Josiah. He is now fourteen years old, and he is very precious in my sight. At times Josiah does things that require that I correct him. Because I love him and desire that he should fulfill God’s purpose that he should be conformed to the image of Christ, I must discipline him. At times he has continued in sin after being corrected, and I have had to discipline him further. The thought has never come into my mind that I should disown him, nor have I ever desired to treat him with indifference, or cruelty. I would always be delighted to see within him signs of repentance and sorrow over his sin, and my heart is to respond toward him in a way that will result in his greatest good. This too is the heart of our Heavenly Father.
Do not misunderstand me. There is a sin unto death, and Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers about some who had died due to their continuing in sin. Yet even this is an act of mercy on the part of God. To allow a son who is unrepentant in his sin, after many chastisements and much discipline, to continue bringing reproach to God and condemnation upon himself, would not be merciful or loving. Paul wrote of one such man among the saints at Corinth.
I Corinthians 5:5
I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Yahshua.
Notice that Paul’s judgment is severe, but his goal is salvation. So too does God discipline us and, if we respond with a humble and repentant heart, then He is able to relent of the severity of the judgment against us. This was the case with this man, for Paul wrote of him again in his next epistle to the church at Corinth.
II Corinthians 2:6-8
Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.
We must all, as children of God, be partakers of His discipline. How wonderful when we recognize the discipline when it comes. Do not think that because you are under God’s discipline that He has forsaken you. No! He is watching you intensely, as a Father watches a son, to see if there is repentance and godly sorrow resulting from the chastisement. We are never more loved than when God disciplines us, for if we did not receive discipline it would be a sign that we are illegitimate children. Discipline is a sign of sonship. Let us shout out gladly when we are being scourged by God, “Hallelujah, I am a son!”
This is an extract from the book Evidence of Things Unseen.
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