In mid-January, Pastor Burrows asked me to speak at Faith Temple.
“Brother Danny, I can preach about God’s faithfulness from the Bible – Paul wrote twice in I Corinthians (1:9 and 10:13) that ‘God is faithful,’” he said. “But you’re experiencing it right now. A saying I really like is ‘He that has an experience is not at the mercy of a man who merely has an argument.’ [Thomas Myerscough] Would you please share what you’re learning?”
Having spoken only a handful of times in chapel or church services, I was nervous but agreed to speak on January 11.
Brad Lapiska and Tyler Ryberg gave me a copy of Jerry Bridges’ Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts after Jenny and Danny’s funerals. Bridges explains from God’s Word that:
- God is completely sovereign
- God is infinite in wisdom
- God is perfect in love
“God in his love always wills what is best for us,” Bridges writes. “In his wisdom he always knows that is best, and in his sovereignty, he has the power to bring it about.”
Bridges’ book enabled me to ground myself with a solid base of the theology of suffering. I realized that I could trust God when traveling through my desert experience, even though I didn’t understand “Why?” it all happened. Trusting God formed the basis of what I learned about God’s faithfulness and what I would share at Faith Temple.
The Friday before I was scheduled to speak, my maternal grandfather gave me a $100 bill and said, “Son, I want to help you. I know how expensive funerals can be after your ‘Mima’ [his wife] died in 1989.”
My grandfather is not a wealthy man; I appreciated his generous gift, for I had to pay the balance for two headstones the following week.
On the Sunday I was scheduled to speak (in the evening service) at Faith Temple, I sat in the 10:45 a.m. service. Right before the offering, I took a $20 bill from my wallet, placed it in a contribution envelope and sealed the envelope. I felt pleased that I was giving more than just my tithe.
In a quiet, gentle way during the offering prayer, the Lord spoke to my heart, saying, “Give me the $100 bill.”
In my mind I said, “No way, Lord! I have to pay off the balance for the grave headstones next week. With that big bill to pay, I need that $100 bill – and a lot more. Tell you what, Lord – I’ll give you a second $20.”
I took out another envelope, placed both $20 bills inside and sealed it. I felt very impressed with my generosity and negotiation skills with God.
Again the Lord spoke, “Give me the $100.” It seemed so real that I looked around to see if someone behind me was talking during the offering prayer. No one was behind me.
Feeling completely foolish, I took out a third envelope and placed the $100 bill inside. Placing the two $20 bills back in my wallet, I said, “Lord, I feel like a complete nut! I hope that that was you speaking to me. I don’t know how I’m going to pay the bill that’s due next week.”
That evening I shared what God was teaching me during my desert experience (adversity). Afterwards, Pastor Burrows said he felt the Lord leading him to take up an offering to help me. There was a small group attending that Sunday evening service, and I assumed the offering would be an honorarium and might “replace” the $100 I had given that morning.
After the service, I scurried in the dark through the rain to my GMC Jimmy and, once inside, turned on the dome light and opened the envelope containing a check for the amount of the offering. Seeing the amount I began to weep. The offering was enough – almost to the penny – to pay off the balance for the headstones! I knew I wasn’t alone in the desert I was passing through. I could trust God to provide. And I would learn more lessons along the journey of experiencing freedom from being imprisoned by money.
To be continued