I believe God reveals Himself to us in many ways in our lives. These revelations are one of the ways He builds faith in us and prepares us for the future. In other words, when I am presented with tests of life, I can recall how God has revealed Himself to me in the past and apply what I learned to something that will help me through the latest test.
In the summer of 1990, God was working in my life in some exciting ways. I had just committed to follow the Lord into His calling on my life to enter into full-time vocational ministry. During these days there was much that the Lord needed to teach me to prepare me for the days, months, and years ahead.
Have you every heard the saying: “When life presents you challenges, you pull yourself up by your boot straps and move on.” That was the motto around our house when I was growing up. I confess that I certainly believed this to be true (Now I know it isn’t good theology). I was being challenged with the prospects of selling my business and moving to seminary. The challenge was: if I sold my business, how was Igoing to provide for myself?
One week I decided to put out the fleece and challenge God regarding His ability to provided for me. I knew God was calling me to trust Him to do everything that needed to be done as I moved forward in faith. (Easier said than done, I might add). One Monday morning in my personal devotion time, I decided to put out a “fleece”. I asked the Lord to provide an unusually large number of orders in my framing business during the next week. The number was totally random and very large. To sum it up, I knew if it happened it would be God who provided.
Monday came and went and it was one of the slowest business days we had experienced in years. Tuesday came and went, then Wednesday and Thursday, and finally Friday. When I locked the door on Friday evening, I walked out the door with a total of 5 orders for the whole week. My conclusion: God can’t provide for me. BUT, giving God the benefit of the doubt He still had 4 hours on Saturday to “prove” Himself.
I went to the shop on Saturday morning wanting to believe that God could meet my every need, but I knew that it would take nothing less than a miracle to write-up 50+ orders in 4 hours.
The first hour of the morning came and went…and the second…and the third and not 1 person entered the store. Only one hour left, Lord. Then 30 minutes passed and another 15 minutes. God had decided not to respond to my fleece. My heart was sick! Was I investing my future in a God who I didn’t believe could meet my needs? To be perfectly honest, I was devastated, my faith was gone.
At 1:55 pm, five minutes until closing, a gentleman walked into the showroom. He was a little surprised that I was still there, but he asked if he could bring some things in that he needed framed for the corporation that he worked for…Naturally, I said sure…
He started bring in stacks of items that he need to have framed for a new building his company was constructing. I was floored. When he brought everything in, he said “Write up the orders next week and call me with a price.”
I couldn’t wait for the guy to leave the store. I wanted to count the orders and see how close God had gotten to my “fleece” number. One, two, three, four…twenty one, thirty-two, forty-three, forty-four, and on and on…
At this point, tears were rolling down my cheeks. God had supplied more orders than I had asked for…He supply was more than I had imagined. My lessons: God provides and be careful for what you ask…you may be limiting God.
Today, I know that my little fleece exercise might not have been shown much faith on my behalf; however, God used it as a teaching time in my life. A faith building time in my life.
I still try to pull myself up by my own boot straps at times. At this season in my life, I resolve to move into my tomorrows knowing that God has a plan, He will be faithful, and I will get through this. “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1: 6, HCSB).