Even as a little girl I can remember always being so fascinated by stories of amazing answers to prayer. I had many favorite records from biblical accounts, as well as testimonial narratives of people like George Mueller who was a man who ran orphanages in England in the 1800’s. George Mueller was convicted that he would never tell anybody but God of his need and then received and told of miraculous solution after miraculous solution.
I also clung to stories my mom told me growing up of times she would come to God with urgent needs. Like one time she needed just four dollars to give each child a dollar to pay for our school lunch. But she was completely tapped out broke. No money no where. No change, nothing.
She searched through every pocket and every old purse and every coin purse searching for any missed money or change, coming up empty every time. She came to God and demanded that $4. She said, “I have to have this!” She felt deeply impressed to go back to a specific coin purse, but she had already looked in that coin purse – multiple times! She said she had even turned it inside out previously – and there was nothing in it. But after her cry to God and the prompting that she felt to look at it again, she found $4 there.
I always longed to have my own amazing testimonies of tales to tell of God’s goodness and provision, yet, there were many points in God supplying for me in amazing, supernatural ways that I did not appreciate the wonder of the situation,. Because I found that relying on God meant I could not rely on myself, and I felt incredibly foolish in that place and as if I were on display to all the world. Many times I did find the wonder and beauty and awe and joy in those places, but there were many times I felt very frustrated as I felt like people in my life expected me to have a better plan for supplying my needs than how God was taking care of me, and I mean Christian friends who I think were just trying to be good friends and good counselors, but I often felt ridiculous for the obviousness and vastness of my need. Even while I knew that at other times in my life where I looked like I was more secure, I was actually in a much worse state, and I struggled a lot because I felt like the material prosperity of my life should reflect the spiritual healing I had received.
For years when I read in the bible about the Israelites groaning and mumbling in the desert, I criticized them, thinking how wonderful their miraculous provision was and how little they appreciated it. I finally understood the other side of it when I was being so much sustained by the provision of the Lord in such obvious ways and how desperately I longed for the ability to control my provision rather than rely on God for it! I still seek the balance in that aspect of trusting and leaning and relying on God in all things and knowing I will always desperately need Him no matter the state of my finances.
I’ve seen so many crazy ways that the Lord has provided for me, I have to begin to write some of the stories to record the goodness of God for me in the areas of provision.
When I had no money for toilet paper or shampoo, a friend spontaneously shared $43 she had earned at her garage sale off of items she’d been given for free. She said the Lord told her to give it to me. I think she was taken back when I broke down sobbing when she gave it to me. Shampoo and toilet paper – those are the bare minimum sort of necessities, you know? I still look at my shampoo bottles and toilet paper packs with so much gratitude.
I got a two-week assignment to help out at one of the departments of a local university. I was so desperately broke at the time. I’d been broke before my last assignment ended unexpectedly and I’d gone weeks without any income. I had no idea how I was going to make rent and for the first time in many desperate moments since I moved to Albuquerque I began to seriously doubt if I could make it here. I began to question if I would have to give up, turn around, return to Ohio and call my venture to New Mexico quits. I was so tired and exhausted emotionally. I was so frightened and so very scared.
During that time a friend took me to the Human Services department and helped me get signed up for assistance which I really needed, but had no idea how to access. And I have often look back on that very, very difficult month where I got not only connected with assistance that helped me survive for many more months, but it’s also the point when Destinee and I began to really talk about merging our defunct blogs together. But that’s something for another blog, but still the same story of how God was working things to my good overall. I just wanted to insert that even in that very painful, embarrassing place, where I felt really upset with God that I was trying so hard and nothing was coming together he used those situations to allow me to get greater assistance as it was still going to be another year before I had permanent work. The food and medical benefit I received were so extraordinarily helpful in that difficult place.
The woman I was helping catch up was a wonderful Christian woman. I don’t know what God said to her, but she was such a source of encouragement to me at a point when I felt so lost and broken in my understanding of what was going on in my life and where was God. She began to bring in gifts for me day after day after day. My backpack had gone kaput on me some months back and I was using a couple bags to carry my lunch and purse, and whatever I needed for the day as I walked and rode public transportation. She had purchased the backpack for her middle school son, but it was too large for him.
It was also a laptop backpack and at the time I had just received my laptop as a gift from my father – well that’s another story and another blessing! I didn’t have internet in my apartment and had been carting my laptop awkwardly in bags not made to carry laptops to the library to work on job applications.
At the end of the two-week temporary office assignment the women I’d been helping, who I never told the details of my financial straits to, gave me an envelope with $200 that helped me make rent (this was not my pay for the work, but a personal gift she gave me). She also asked me what was my favorite flavor of creamer and she bought me good coffee with the biggest bottle of flavored creamer as well as some books by one of my favorite Christian authors.
The next to last day of this assignment I went to an interview and the next morning was offered the job. I still look back on that interview in a strange wonder. Ultimately, the job did not work out, but it sustained me through a point where I was about to give up.
The following Monday, a friend helped me out by giving me a ride to the bank when I was on the verge of eviction. As I was trying to get cash off of a card, I gave the dollar amount off by one dollar and so the bank couldn’t give me the cash. The bank teller advised that I needed to go to another branch to get the money off of this card, because he was only allowed to try to pull cash off of it once a day, and because I said the wrong dollar amount it locked the card for that branch for the rest of the day.
I was rocked. I had thought I would get my money order for my past due rent, drop it off at the apartment office, and then head to my first day of the new job. I sat in the lobby trying to control my sobs while I reached out to see if another friend could drive me, but realized I was better to catch the next bus.
When I got on that bus there was a man pouring out an endless stream of insults on everybody on the bus. He wasn’t cursing, but it was vile and filthy and horrible. None of the comments were even directed at me, still it was very chaotic and unsettling to my system. I prayed in my mind for God to shut him down – but God didn’t stop the man and the man’s words continued. Feeling deeply afflicted by his offensive digs and barbs I got off the bus and began walking to the next stop. The man got off at the same stop.
“You have got to be kidding me, God.” I groused in my heart. Sure enough the guy followed me to the next bus stop. Honestly, by that point, I heavily suspected God was not only not stopping the man, but was actually using the man to intentionally move me to a certain point.
Furious at the whole situation, I plugged my earbuds in and rocked my Christian praise music loud as it would go and determinedly stormed down the road to the next bank. It’s really rather comic with a couple years space between now and then.
As I crossed in front of the bright, green grass of the women’s hospital, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see a girl I met at a work assignment nine months earlier. She had chased me down after seeing me walk past her in front of the hospital where she was leaving from a check up. She shared how she had decided at the last minute to take an appointment that day and how pleased she was by the prime parking spot she landed—right by the sidewalk where I was marching past to get to the bank and my first day of a new job.
The money order process ended up being still more complicated as it turned out what the bank teller meant was not just that I needed to go to another branch of the same bank, but I needed to actually go to a completely different bank. So this sweet gal drove me to two different banks, then to a gas station for the money order, my apartment complex to make the payment in time to avoid eviction and finally to my new job. We shared about our learning on our path to recovery and prayed together.
I saw supernatural provision in many forms my first nine months in Albuquerque especially. There were several times where food that I was eating simply didn’t deplete. I remember in particular a pack of tortillas that I never seemed to make a dent in and a $1 bottle of soap that I put at the kitchen sink that just never totally ran dry. When I got some extra cash my roommate at the time was so eager to throw the bottle away. She couldn’t believe how the thing lasted six months! And the funny thing about the tortillas pack is that once I had money for more groceries, I started noticing the expiration date stamped right on top of the pack, so I finally tossed the still full pack.
Right about that time, a skin condition around my nose and scalp began to flare up. I was not only out of the medicated ointment, but also out of insurance and cash. About four months earlier I had tried to get even a drop out of the bottle, but it was bone dry. I started to toss it into the trash, but for reasons I could not explain or understand, I kept the bottle. As the condition worsened, I remembered the bottle, but that remembrance seemed pointless – the bottle was completely empty. Yet, I found it, and applied it to my nose and a drop came out and soothed the irritated skin on my nose. I was so amazed and in awe and grateful for the relief to my red, cracking skin. Over the coming days, I got drop after drop out of the bottle, til I could actually shake the bottle and inside the container. I still have that bottle. I like to go and shake it and just relish the awe of the whole thing.
One day I was wishing for some fresh apples. A friend brought so many apple flats to my roommate that she immediately gave about half of them away I think, because she knew they were far too many for us to eat on our own. We initially kept 3 cardboard flats, but ended up still giving another flat away and simply still did not eat all the apples.
And yes, there were many, many times that I didn’t know where my rent was coming from. For two years all I could find were temporary jobs that typically ended suddenly without warning. I remember one Friday night leaving my job to come home to a phone call that I didn’t need to come back on Monday and I walked into my living room and lifted my arms and my voice to praise God. I didn’t praise God because I was happy, but to show my confidence in His supply and to stand in defiance to the negative emotions that stood eager to consume me. Time and time again I would be several weeks to a month without work. I had already been living lean, so I had no savings to cover anything.
It always came through differently, but it was only the last time that I asked my parents for help with the rent, every other time, it worked out different ways, different people offered me help without me asking. It often moved me to tears and abrupt, unexpected sobbing to have loving friends step in to help me out as I did my best. I prayed and praised and wept a lot – before and AFTER the answers came. I actually wailed with joy once when I received my food benefit. It was so much more than I had been living on for a long time. It was so abundant compared to what I’d been getting by on. I realized then that wailing in joy sounds about the same as wailing for sorrow!
Even later, after having a permanent job, unexpected expenses arose. I had about four to five months where I knew I didn’t have enough money to pay the bills and get groceries. The food benefit was long gone, but my God was still ever-present. I began praying for God to send help. One day one of my brothers was moved to send me an iron skillet, which I’d wanted for a while, along with a five-pound bag of quinoa. I’d shared with him how much I liked the super-food. He probed asking if there was more I needed and followed those packages up with other groceries that could be shipped to me.
Provision has come a lot of different ways, and they aren’t always obviously supernatural, but I see the hand of God often in helping me.Then there are other times, I never have it on paper or in the bank and I get through. And sometimes I’m eating ramen noodles, but I tell you, often in those places, it’s like the Lord does a work for me on those inexpensive noodles! I have wondered if it’s like what I imagine He did to make manna taste good for the Israelite’s after so many years and so many meals. I have many more stories, but this is a quick list of some of the highlights of the Lord’s provision to me personally the last couple of years.