During the past few years, many people have been tested in the area of their finances. So I know our story is one of many, but the details of how God moved during this season are so beautiful I can’t help but share.
This testimony takes place starting in May 2007 and extending to March 2011. In many ways, this is a macro version of the Test of Faith the Lord put us through in 2006. The reminder of that portion of our testimony was often the encouragement we needed to continue during this season. God is faithful.
There are far more details in this story than I’m able to share here, but I hope I’ve shared enough to give you the picture of the faithfulness of God and the fact that He does not mind stretching us far beyond what we think we’re capable of.
I shall not want (Psalm 23:1)
It all begins with a word from God’s Word. Late in May 2009 as I was spending my lunch hour at my desk in the Fortune 500 company where I’d worked for the better part of a decade. The Lord sent me to the 23rd Psalm and though I could recite it by heart with ease, I flipped to it as the Holy Spirit directed.
I read verse 1 and couldn’t move forward. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” I sensed the Lord telling me to read it again. And when I had, He said read it again. And so I did… and then nothing. No great new revelation. As I sat in my cubicle with my steady, generous salary checks rolling in it was easy to know I was provided for. I thanked Him for being my Shepherd and for providing for me and went on with my day.
Layoffs & New Job
Several months later the company I was working for announced they were doing a reduction in force. Immediately, when I heard the announcement the Holy Spirit brought to my recollection the word He’d given me in May… I shall not want. Standing on that word, I had no fear about upcoming job cuts knowing regardless of the outcome, I was covered.
In December, the Lord began opening a door for me to change jobs completely. Shorter commute, a promotion, more money – everything to recommend it. In prayer I felt released to choose either path, knowing His hand would provide either way, but this opportunity provided a way to exit before the layoffs and so I opted to take the new role and was excited about all the blessings that appeared to come with it.
After I’d accepted the new position, but a week before I left my old job I had a sobering moment. The Holy Spirit told me that what I was walking into would not be what I expected. I sensed a great trial ahead and yet sensed the Lord wanting me to choose it even though I was now walking in with my eyes wide open rather than in la-la-land with all sorts of high hopes and expectations.
Sabbath Rest & “You’re not going to miss it”
It didn’t take long at the new job to see it wasn’t a happy fit on either side. A little over 2 months into the new position, my husband and I visited IHOP-KC (International House of Prayer) with two of our closest friends. While we were there we had the opportunity to receive prophetic ministry and one of the ladies ministering to me had a word about the Lord bringing me into a season of Sabbath rest.
I was excited about the word. At the time I hadn’t had more than 10 days off in a row in over a decade and a half. I was tired and in desperate need of some serious downtime – the stress and strain of corporate America having taken a toll, especially when coupled with outside endeavors – everything from ministry to teaching to a thriving freelance business. I’d been asking the Lord for a break – a REAL break – for a couple of years at that point and was excited to know He had it on His radar too.
Two weeks after our trip to IHOP, I sat in my office at work asking God what needed to come off my plate so I could have this Sabbath rest. I had already stripped out virtually everything – my focus was my husband, my job, one young lady I was mentoring, and Dyed4you – which at that time was still very low volume. Truly from my perspective, nothing could be removed and as I vented my frustrations about this to God all He would say is “you’re not going to miss it.”
I’m ashamed to admit I continued to argue back with Him that obviously *I* was going to have to move something off my plate and He was going to need to tell me what it was so I could do it! He gently and firmly said again, “you’re not going to miss it.” I knew I was to wait and watch. So I did.
Getting Tossed off the Deep End
Two weeks later – on May 6th 2008 – I was let go from my job. I knew immediately when it happened that this is what God had meant. And that He was right (of course), I didn’t miss it. God did for me what I never would have had the chutzpah to do – quit my job and take a break.
My whole employed life I’d lived check to check. But God had arranged it in such a way we had enough money to support ourselves for several months. I quietly asked God if maybe I could have until November – six full months. I just knew I needed rest.
What made this moment even more interesting is that my husband had already taken a leave of absence from his job, and when I was let go we both sensed the Lord saying He called us to this place of rest together intentionally.
My church had just started an IHOP-style harp and bowl prayer room a few months prior. And after a month of simply working on unwinding, the Lord replayed my own words to me – words I’d said many times during the last few months I’d been working, “Lord, if I didn’t have to be at work, I would be at the Prayer Room every day.” It was clear what He wanted. So my husband and I made our “jobs” being at the prayer room every day it was open. This was a rich season where the Lord was preparing us in ways we didn’t even understand.
Running Out of Money
When we hit November, we were out of money. Yet neither one of us felt like our season in the prayer room was complete, quite the contrary! And the Lord sent word after word from people who didn’t know us or know anything about us to confirm what He had us doing. Literally Dyed4you customers who didn’t know anything about me would contact me and tell me the Lord woke them with words for me and it would be identical to what the Lord had been speaking to us.
Disclaimer – Before I continue, I feel it necessary to say that I am NOT advocating randomly quitting your job and waiting for the Lord to provide. This season my husband and I were in the LORD walked us into – we did not choose it, He asked us to walk into it and we obeyed.
Many quoted 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “…If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” to us, but understand that work does not equal employment. Work is whatever labor the Lord puts before you. During this season our ministry to the Lord in the prayer room was part of our “work.” Additionally, we both volunteered extensively at church as well as discipling other believers. We “worked,” but we were not “employed.”
I also need to add that during this season the Lord did not have us ASK anyone for support (with one exception you’ll hear about below). With that disclaimer of “don’t try this unless GOD tells you to,” I will continue!
Free-falling in a Trust Test
The next 11 months was filled with an equal share of trying circumstances and divine provision. There were days we had food because someone thought to give us some or the lunchroom at church had leftovers they were unable to serve again that they would offer to us. To make the situation even more interesting, we had a missionary friend who stayed with us when she would come home on furlough, and this time was staying with us for an extended furlough (9 months); so we were providing food, lodging and transportation for her as well.
There were days the fridge was empty and the car was on “E” and we’d head to the prayer room trusting Abba to give us our daily bread, and unprompted – with no knowledge of our circumstances – someone would come and give us enough to get gas and buy some food. That happened more times than I can count.
One month our bank account sat at zero for 3 full weeks. We had an insurance payment coming up and no idea how we would pay it (by law we had to carry car insurance and our mortgage company requires homeowners – so both were included in the payment). Two days before the payment was scheduled to come out of the account, a check arrived in the mail from someone I knew through Dyed4you, but had never met. It was for $444.44! When we deposited it, the bank held the check for 2 days (since we’d been at zero for so long) and the funds became available just in time to pay the insurance – God’s timing is always perfect!
During this 11 month period, 3 times we were threatened with foreclosure on our home. We’d long since put our house on the altar and left it in God’s hands knowing He could and would have us where HE wanted us, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. In each of these 3 times, the money came in with just enough time to spare for the bank to hold the funds until they cleared. Each time we had only 1-3 days to spare, but God was always faithful and always on time.
New Level of Trust
In October of 2009, God took us to a new level. We were being threatened with foreclosure again, with the timely provision during the last 3 threats, I gave it little mind as the date approached trusting that God had it covered. But when the date came and went and no provision had come, I had to stop and ask the Lord, “What’s going on?!”
He simply replied, “It’s a new level of trust.”
The foreclosure process went into full swing. Capturing thoughts of worry and stress began to require significantly more time than before. Additionally, those who felt we should be working were becoming increasingly verbal about telling us so, sometimes in ways that were not just hurtful, but slanderous and unjust. People had been reluctantly tolerant of six months, but a year and a half they felt was excessive.
I was (and still am) surprised at how many people were offended that we weren’t employed – though we never asked for anything. People seemed to feel we had an obligation to be employed simply because we are capable of being employed.
The Cost of Obeying God
One of the things we learned quickly was the cost of obeying God. On January 11th – as our foreclosure date drew near – the Lord took my husband to Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest, which perfectly articulated what we were experiencing:
If we obey God it is going to cost other people more than it costs us, and that is where the sting comes in. If we are in love with our Lord, obedience does not cost us anything, it is a delight, but it costs those who do not love Him a good deal. If we obey God it will mean that other people’s plans are upset, and they will gibe us with it – “You call this Christianity?” We can prevent the suffering; but if we are going to obey God, we must not prevent it, we must let the cost be paid…
Stagnation in spiritual life comes when we say we will bear the whole thing ourselves. We cannot. We are so involved in the universal purposes of God that immediately we obey God, others are affected. Are we going to remain loyal in our obedience to God and go through the humiliation of refusing to be independent, or are we going to take the other line and say – I will not cost other people suffering? We can disobey God if we choose, and it will bring immediate relief to the situation, but we shall be a grief to our Lord. Whereas if we obey God, He will look after those who have been pressed into the consequences of our obedience. We have simply to obey and to leave all consequences with Him.
Running Towards a Brick Wall
With the auction date for our home set, we asked the Lord if we should pack – “No.” So we continued our prayers for direction and the Lord continued to give the same response, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD…” (Exodus 14:13). So we waited feeling like we were running full speed towards a brick wall.
In prayer I asked the Lord what we would need to get out of this – I knew the amount of past due payments, but there were legal fees and whatnot that were involved now. I felt the Lord give me a number – so wrote it down. When we got the final tally, it was the dollar amount I’d heard plus some change! I thought if I could hear that right surely we must be hearing right on the rest – so I waited, excited to see the Lord move on our behalf.
And move He did. The Lord provided with 2 days to spare before the cut-off for the auction. We were beyond grateful!
The next few months were a continuation of testing and provision, but everything after the last one seemed much easier. We knew He had us covered – even when it didn’t look like we would have preferred and even when it wasn’t in a timetable that we’d have chosen – He was consistently faithful.
Increasing Dyed4you & a New Test
During 2010, the Lord continued to increase the flow of orders through the ministry. By July, the Lord told me I could no longer refer to myself as “unemployed” and I fully understood why – the volume of interaction related to the ministry had become a full-time effort, even though the finances were not there yet.
One difficult test came when my computer crashed and needed to be replaced. Since an increasing flow of income was coming through this internet-based ministry, not having a computer was debilitating.
As I prayed about what to do, the Lord put someone on my heart to call and ask for them to buy a new computer. I hated the idea. After all thus far we hadn’t asked for anything! The Lord showed me it was my pride that was rebelling. When people would find out about our situation, I liked being able to say I hadn’t “asked” for anything. That was my defense against the comments that would often follow.
Finally, I made the call and asked the individual to prayerfully consider purchasing me a replacement computer. Without hesitation she said yes and explained the Lord had already put it on her heart to get it, she just hadn’t known what to get and so hadn’t acted on it. With tears of gratitude and relief, I thanked the Lord yet again for His faithfulness.
By the Fall, I believed the Lord was calling me into full-time ministry, but there were pieces that needed to fall into place first. One piece happened in October of 2010, when He structured our finances in such a way that secured our house. We would now be able to pay the mortgage payment on time and we wouldn’t constantly either be in the threat of foreclosure or going into it.
By the last quarter of 2010, we were consistently bringing in about 70% of the bare minimum we need to live on. As the new year began, I waited eagerly to see if it would hold steady or do a post-holiday retail dip. The first half of the quarter held pretty close to steady dropping only about 5%. I sensed this season of heavy financial testing was drawing to a close and awaited the final shift.
One evening in a conversation with the Lord I was pointing out to Him some of the financial obligations that were awaiting funds and the Lord said, “I can tell anyone I want about Dyed4you any time I want to.” In my head I pictured one individual telling one of their friends, I nodded in agreement with His statement, and reiterated my point which I didn’t feel He’d addressed. He responded by reiterating His previous response, and so I let the conversation drop.
Two days later, on February 15th, while I was pausing for a break after dyeing, I heard my iPod ping. I reached over and saw I had a new order from a name I’d never seen. I thanked the Lord and set it down. No sooner had I set it down than it pinged again, I looked and it was another order from someone I didn’t know.
Within minutes I discovered that a well-known prophet to the nations (who one of my intercessors had sent a Dyed4you scarf to) had read his scarf letter on the air. People who had seen his “mantle” on the show were heading to my site to get one. Suddenly God’s words from 2 days prior had a whole different meaning! I wept at the beauty of how He works.
In the week following, I did as much business I had done in my busiest month to date. Not just that, but the increase volume held and I closed the quarter out with just shy of double the Dyed4you sales the previous quarter (which had been the highest to date).
Some who have asked for details during this season have later said to me they couldn’t do what we’ve done. I always encourage them by saying “you don’t have to!” This is something the Lord called us to. This was a season of testing He felt we needed to go through for whatever He knows lies ahead. I don’t know what that is exactly (though based on prophetic words I could speculate), but what I know is that He is trustworthy and working toward our good and the good of His people.
So are we rolling in the dough now? Not hardly. But we know this season of testing is done and the Lord has been and is faithful to provide. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”