I had a meeting this morning with a relatively new friend of mine. I’ll call her “Kathy” for the sake of our story and for her to have a name without totally giving away her real name. I stumbled upon this new friend when she called our church office one day seeking some financial help. It is not unusual for us to received numerous calls such as this each week, especially as we get late into each month and major bills start coming due. This is a very difficult aspect to deal with and I will not even begin to go into all of the arguments of “pro” and “con” as to how one should handle these situations. On this particular day – something in me decided to listen more deeply to her story.
Over the following weeks and leading into the last couple months here is some of what I’ve learned. Kathy had left her original career field after a business she had been working for had to close. She took the opportunity to go back to school and receive training in a new field of study – one she had an interest and passion in and one she believe would open up some doors to a new direction in life. While this was going on her troubled marriage ended up on the rocks and her husband moved on, leaving her with 2 daughters – 1 in middle and 1 in high school. So here she was – fresh out of a collegiate setting with no job, no husband, no place to live, 2 children relying on her, a car that was OLD and in bad shape that had been given to her from a friend because she had nothing, and nowhere to turn.
Something inside of me challenged me to investigate more deeply and to invest more than just money. I made no promises or tried to be the “hero” running to her aid, but simply assured her I would ask the people of our church to step up to the plate. This is exactly what they did, some responded with a willingness to pray, others offered job advice and leads on opportunities, and some gave money to help cover the cost of her rent. So we were able to step in and help with the immediate & urgent needs, but then also began to address the ongoing and important needs.
I also was unashamed to explain the desperate need for her to find a church family that could come around and support her. She lives quite a distance from our church and with a bad car and no money for gas it would not be the best option for her. But then God showed up again – a family in our church lives not far from her. They stepped in and helped to meet some needs, they took her to dinner, gave her some financial help and worked through her resume and found business clothes for her to wear to interviews. They even were able to recently give her a ride with them to a Sunday service. Things were looking better. Then another man in our church – who has been a HUGE GODSEND in so many people’s lives due to his ability to work on cars, stepped in to take a look at her vehicle situation. While he has been working on that we have provided her with other means of transportation to be able to get to interviews and other side jobs.
But all of this above is simple “BACK STORY” and not the real reason I write this tonight. I want to share with you exactly what took place today. Back to my meeting with Kathy this morning. We sat down to discuss the fact that we had made a promise, if she could find a job, we would take care of this month’s rent. We just didn’t feel like we could keep throwing money in a bottomless hole, but if she could secure work, ANY KIND of work, PT, FT, Seasonal – whatever, it would show us her diligence and the fact that soon income would start showing up and she could move on from there. So she was meeting with me to explain how she had found a job opportunity, she had also found some extra work to make enough money to pay her phone bill and overdue electric bill before it would get cut off. These were huge praises but there was still this enormous problem of rent.
As promised I rode over with her to the rental offices to discuss with the management what options there were. She originally owed $689 for rent, but due to late fees it was now up to $1085.50 and if it was not paid IN FULL today (which we did not know going in there) then it would get turned into the court system and she would get another charge of $250 more. This “cycle of poverty” just continued to spin out of control. It was at this point I knew we had to do something. You see I had gone in prepared to pay SOME of this amount, we had some money set aside from the church to cover part of the cost. So I had hoped that if we showed “good faith” by paying some – the complex could knock out the fees and stop the eviction process. This was not the case, it either had to be paid IN FULL or nothing and then more fees to be tacked on. I could see that Kathy was desperate and distraught and I was not certain what to do. (For those of you who know my own story and financial picture it is not exactly as if I have a bunch of money sitting around to burn)
It was at this point I had a decision to make – I had to totally and completely trust that God would provide. So I told the manager that I would cover the cost – put the whole bill on a credit card and get reimbursed by the church for some of the amount and then eat the rest myself until Kathy was able to earn some more money from this side job (which she already has lined up to work but just doesn’t have the money yet) and to pay me back. In reality I didn’t feel like I would totally lose out, but I guess there is always a chance. I just have to trust that God will intervene and that Kathy will be true to her word – which she has been to this point.
So we finalized the transaction and $1,085.50 was charged to my credit card (now remember, before any of you try to make me seem like the good guy for doing all of this OR before any of you try to make me the bad guy for doing this but telling everyone to try to get the credit – THE CHURCH IS COVERING MOST OF THIS it just happened to be done on my credit card – so I am NOT TRYING TO TAKE CREDIT – just telling the story). After we left the office – Kathy thanked me profusely and talked about how embarrassed she was and how guilty she felt. I tried to encourage her that things were moving the right direction and that she had done a great job paying off the other bills – so this was the last step in helping her to get back on track. To not worry or stress because this creates a window of a couple of weeks for her to not have these heavy bills beating down on her. And so we went our separate ways.
I’m not going to lie – the drive back over to the office I felt a lil uncertain at what had just taken place, but at the same time I had a peace about it that God desired me to take that step and just trust Him. Then when I arrived at the office, it was empty – Jeff had run out for some things and no one else was in today – so it was just me. As I walked in I looked on my desk and there were 3 envelopes. I knew what these were – they were support checks that I receive occasionally. That was definitely an encouraging sight, especially after this most recent transaction. As I began to open them I was encouraged even more to realize that only 1 of them was sort of “expected” the other 2 were gifts I was not so much counting on. As I dug a little deeper I realized something even more amazing – and came to a realization and grasped the reminder that GOD IS MOST DEFINITELY IN CONTROL!
After opening all 3 of the checks and making sure they were correctly identified as ones indicated for my support raising for working here in Atlanta I began to add up the total of the checks. Can you guess what the total was?
Okay I’ll tell you – ONE THOUSAND EIGHTY-FIVE DOLLARS – that’s right $1,085. Does that look familiar? Look back at the amount I charged on my credit card for Kathy – $1,085.50 (I’ll just put that other 50 cents on God’s tab right!!!)
HOW CRAZY IS THAT! GOD IS SO GOOD! Now again it wasn’t like I am paying all that money or that I won’t get most or all of it back – and it wasn’t like it is some lump sum of extra money I had not counted on – but come on – REALLY the exact amount, within 50 cents, not 30 min after I had paid that bill. I love to watch the way God works – I love to see the amazing, confusing, bewildering, befuddling, contradicting way GOD’S ECONOMY WORKS!
Just recently I heard Francis Chan challenge people at a conference to live in a way that we could brag on the things that GOD DOES in our life – so I just thought I’d share that God showed up in a really great, encouraging and impressive way today and I give Him all the GLORY – HONOR – and CREDIT and am just humbled that He allows me to be used on this awesome ride!
Don’t you just love God’s Economy too??