Friday, April 24, 2015

Refresh: Can I try that again?

"Good news refreshes the bones." - Proverbs 15:30b

This is part of an ongoing series called "Refresh" which highlight tales of God providing, especially in amazing, fun and unexpected ways. Details may be modified to protect privacy. May this tale help refresh your bones!

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I'd been raising support for about nine months.  I mostly felt like I knew the routine, but every so often I'd show up at a meeting with a new person and I'd become gripped by fear.  (Those were most often times when I wouldn't ask God for help beforehand.)

This is the story of one of those fear-drenched meetings... and how God overcame it.

Jim (not his real name) was a businessman who I'd met while visiting a church.  He lived about 20 miles from my home in the middle of nowhere.  He's also straight-up Type-A.  When I showed up at his home that evening, he greeted me with, "Hello Tony.  You can sit there.  I've got to run in exactly 29 minutes.  Tell me what God's called you to do."

Businessman + direct + less than half an hour = GRIPPING FEAR

I shared my fearful heart out for the next 20 minutes.  At least I hope I did.  I barely remember it.  I just know that I said "umm" a bunch and repeated myself at least three times.  Thankfully I think it was the gospel that I'd repeated.  But like I said, I barely remember it.

Jim paid attention the whole time but didn't say much until about that 20-minute mark.  Then he asked a few questions in rapid-fire succession.  They were about what kind of training I'd received (which I think I answered well), what my home church thought (generally supportive but not giving) and what my day-to-day work would look like (I wasn't totally sure, but I talked about other missionaries with my organization.)

Apparently answering those questions took 9 minutes, however, because Jim got up and said, "Sounds like a good thing you're doing, Tony.  I've got to get going.  Thanks for driving on out here."

Businessman + direct + LEAVING RIGHT NOW = FEARRRRRRR!!!!

As he began to put on his coat, I told him that I'd love it if he'd be willing to pray for my ministry.  He quickly agreed and then guided me to the door.  As it closed behind me, I knew I'd failed.  I was so scared of this guy that I'd been completely unwilling to ask about money.  I sulkily got in my car and started it up.  I was just about to pull away when I glanced (for about the 1000th time) at a notecard I kept taped to my dash that said:
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
I want to be clear as to what happened next.  It was NOT that I stopped being afraid.  In fact, I think I became even MORE fearful.  But it was no longer Jim that I was scared of.  It was the LORD.  He had commanded me, and here I was being frightened and dismayed.  Suddenly I felt angry (at myself), sad (at the meeting) and determined (rare!) all at once.  In perhaps the quietest whisper of a prayer I'd ever uttered, out came, "You're with me wherever I go.  Okay.  Be with me now."

I opened my car door and got out just as Jim began backing his car out of his garage.  I jogged up to the passenger-side door and caught his eye.  He rolled down the window.

"Hey Jim.  I'm sorry; I didn't quite say what I wanted to say back there."  I gestured toward the house. "Can I try that again?"

Jim stared at me totally deadpan for the longest second-and-a-half of my life.  "What's on your mind, Tony?"

Businessman + direct + God with me = ...confidence like I'd never had before...

"Jim, I told you that I wanted you to pray for me.  And that's true, and thank you for being willing.  But I'm also looking for financial help to do what God has commanded me to do.  Could I count on your help for six thousand dollars a year?"

Another second and a half.  A really, really long second and a half.  My heart was pounding, but honestly it was more excitement that I'd actually said something rather than fear of [business]man.

"I'd be happy to, Tony.  I'll send in a check tomorrow.  Have a good night."  Then he drove off.

I didn't drive away that night for probably 20 more minutes.  Instead, I sat in my warm car and spent a lot of time thanking God and actually asking for more courage like that.  He answered, and I was done fundraising almost exactly two months later.

Be strong and courageous, brothers and sisters.  God is with you wherever you go!

Submitted by "Tony".

Have a Refresh story to share?  Let me know!