Here is a story from exactly a year ago. It was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, just like today. Hope you are blessed. Expect miracles!
One ordinary Sunday morning, I went to church as usual. There was nothing special about this day. It was like so many other Sundays before it. Little did I know at the time what would transpire that day or the way in which my life would be forever changed. I would never see God the same. I went to church early that morning to participate in the pre service prayer time. While I was in the prayer room, something stirred within me. As I walked out of that room, I had what I believe was an inspired thought. I believed that God wanted me to give someone money that morning. Isn’t it just like God to use me, a single mom? He has told me for years that I would walk in financial abundance, but I wasn’t living in that financial reality yet. From the world’s perspective, I was the least likely choice. But God likes to do the unexpected with the willing. I knew prayer had stirred up this crazy idea. I gravitate toward the crazy. It keeps life exciting! So He picked the right person.
During the service, I looked around. Looking for the one I was to bless that morning. The nudge was strong, but I waited for God to point out who was the one He wanted blessed that day. Finally, it became clear. The man sat alone on the back row. I had never seen him in church before. He looked worn around the edges. Yes, this was the one.
As the service ended, he immediately left. Since he was new, he didn’t stop to chat with anyone on his way out. I followed him. I did tell the Lord that I would not run after him, so He had to slow him down. I didn’t want this new guy to think I was a stalker. I caught up with him outside on the way to his car. Awkwardly, yet boldly, I stopped him. I can’t even remember if I told him my name. When I am in situations like these, some of the details often get lost in the fog. The fog that is created between me thinking maybe I am crazy and wondering if the other person thinks I am crazy. Either way, life is more fun and thrilling when you take a risk. It is only better when it is a God ordained risk.
So I tell him that I felt God wanted me to give him $20. At the time, he didn’t know that this was my last $20. This $20 was suppose to last me thru the end of the week. I didn’t know how I was going to pay for gas or other expenses that week. This all happened on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Having only $20 would have been a challenge on any week, but even more so this week. But I trusted if God told me to give him the last of my money that He had a plan. Well, maybe that isn’t quite how I saw it. To be more honest, I placed the responsibility back on Him. I told Him that now my finances were His problem. He doesn’t seem to mind when I push back like this. I think He likes it. Because I believe in the underlying goodness of God, I knew He wouldn’t have me give money to this other person and put me in a bind or cause me harm. Even though I didn’t know how He would work out the details, I said yes and went along on the adventure.
Somehow in the midst of the swirling chaos, I found out his name was Mark. Now it was Mark’s turn to talk. I was actually surprised he didn’t run away from me, this wacky stranger or at least, say thank you and get to his car quickly, never to return to that church again. Instead, he wanted me to know the significance of a seemingly small act of kindness. The previous night, while he was with a buddy, he said they had to count change to find enough money to buy coffee. He expressed thanks to me. He followed that by saying, “Now, I can eat tonight”. It wasn’t until later as I reflected on this experience that I felt the full weight of those words and the desperation of his situation. I know that desperation. Desperation that makes breathing difficult. Desperation where you see no end to an impossible situation. Desperation that nails you to the floor and you can’t move. You are paralyzed.
He went on to tell me that his business had been struggling. He was at a crossroads. He didn’t know what to do. Should he close his business? Or should he hang on? Boldness, or you might say the Holy Spirit, took over. I broke rules of giving a prophetic word by stepping out on a limb. I told him I believed he was to continue in his business. Of course, I had no idea what he did for a living so it certainly wasn’t grounded in any rational thought! Later, I thought I sure hope I heard that right. I went on to tell him that while $20 isn’t a lot, but I believed that this was a deposit on what God wanted to do for him. I knew it wasn’t going to change his financial situation because his real need was so much larger. He received the money and the word and went on his way.
As I drove home, I was satisfied knowing I had heard God’s voice. Knowing Mark could eat that night made the encounter all the more rich. Of course, I had to call a friend to share the story. A great God story isn’t complete until it is shared once or, in the case, of this story hundreds of times. Sharing the story allows others to enter into the God moment. Sharing stories can change lives. Sharing releases hope. But I don’t share stories for any of these reasons. I shared because I am so excited and I can’t hold it in any longer. If I held it in, I think I would have burst. I am like a kid who opened up the best Christmas present ever. I want to tell the whole world. How cool is this? The Creator of the Universe spoke to me and I heard. He allowed me to partner with Him to change a life. What is more powerful or more fun? Who needs video games?
By coincidence, the next day, I found $20 in an old purse. So my immediate needs were met. He is faithful. He is always faithful. Sometimes we get a clear glimpse like this.
During the following week, God shared with me about generosity and the impact it can have. He wanted me to challenge the church to open our eyes and see. To see those around us and how we could bless people over the holiday season. Not only would this help those we gave money to, bought groceries for, or filled up their gas tank for, but somehow it would impact our own financial situations. Of course, I don’t recommend to give in order to receive. When the focus is off our lack and our situation and onto someone else’s need that is often greater than our own, something happens within us. Somehow we become open and walk in more freedom.
Over the years, I had received several similar prophetic words that I would be throwing off provision to others. My pioneer wagon would never be depleted. In fact, it was resupplied supernaturally as soon as I threw it off. But I wasn’t feeling like I was living in that reality yet. But when would I begin to step into this? Would I have to make $100,000 a year. Would I need all my debt paid off? What held me back from stepping into it? What holds any of us back? Ourselves, our thinking, our preconceived ideas of how it is going to happen. I certainly didn’t have a lot of provision to throw off but I did what I could. If not now, when? So I jumped in!!
I saw Mark a couple times in passing at church over the following weeks. I kept forgetting to ask him how business was going. When I give someone a prophetic word, I expect something to happen. I promised myself that the next time I saw him I would ask him. Of course, he wasn’t in church the following week. As I get older, I can forget things. But I wasn’t going to forget to ask him. I wanted to know. Or God wanted me to know.
The Sunday before Christmas, I finally saw Mark again. During the break after worship but before the sermon, I ask him about business. He went into more explanation this time of his situation. Explaining that for him to shut down his business meant losing everything, his business, his house, his income, etc. You get the idea. He said he would have probably gone bankrupt. He even saw himself homeless living on the streets. Remember the sense of desperation? Now, I had an even fuller picture. It wasn’t like quitting a job and losing an income. Debt would have been racked up by the tens of thousands. Once that happened, he said he could never get out. I had no idea the depth of the situation.
He also told me that before I gave him that prophetic word, he had received about a handful of prophetic words. They were all similar but since they were friends he wasn’t convinced. God needed to intervene supernaturally with a stranger, me.
When Mark finally got around to telling me about his business, he said the next day (after I gave him the $20) his business turned around. He added that he has had steady business ever since! Come on! Are you kidding me? I was psyched when he was able to eat. Now to find out that his business turned around, I was amazed. How good is God? Again, I am thankful for listening to that small voice, to that gentle nudge. Yes, our small acts of kindness, especially if prompted by God can make a difference.
As I took all of this amazingly good news in, Mark hands me a Christmas card. This is no ordinary card. The envelope is bulging. Fog sets in again, heavy fog. Somewhere along the line, he tells me that God spoke to him. God told him that he needed to give me the first fruits of his turnaround. By now the fellowship time is over. Time for the sermon. While I want to rip the envelope open right then, instead like a good church goer I calmly take the card to my seat. At this point, I am caught in a swirl of thoughts and emotions which resulted in me missing every word of the sermon. The waiting was killing me but I couldn’t open up the card in the middle of church, surrounded by people.
Greg, my friend’s husband, who knows Mark, had been acting weird and wanted to make sure I was at church that Sunday. Now I know why. When church is over and as soon as I believe the coast is clear, I sneak a peak. I find a bunch of $20 and $100 bills. I figure there is at least $500. But I am not going to take the money out of the envelope at church to count it. I have to be respectable 😉 There are still people lingering after church. Greg comes over and asks, “Do you know how much is in there?” I told him I hadn’t counted it. Then, he told me there was a hundredfold return. Somehow that didn’t translate properly in my head. I thought it was a thousand dollars. Of course, I am in total shock by now. Greg seemed to sense that I didn’t quite get it. So he said, “There is $2,000!” I am totally overwhelmed and undone by this lavish, outrageous gift. I know the giver of good gifts. He loves me.
As God often does, he recycled the prophetic word I gave Mark. Now, the Lord is saying to me, this is a deposit on what He is going to do in my life. I am expectant!