Thursday, March 8, 2018
A Fresh Start
We arrived back in Georgia and returned to stay with our friends, the Barnes family. I told Tony what the Lord had spoken to me about getting our finances in order, but she was terrified about the prospect of declaring bankruptcy. I told her we were shortly going to be forced into it anyways, by our creditors, and I was certain this was what the Lord had directed me to do.
We made an appointment to see a bankruptcy attorney, and on the drive there I told Tony that the Spirit had spoken to me that morning and told me that I was to pack up our possessions, for we were going to be moving. Tony was incredulous upon hearing this remark and suggested that what I needed to be doing was finding a job. She knew we did not even have the money to rent a place, and she asked me where we were going to move to. I told her that I did not know, but I had heard the Spirit tell me to pack and I was going to begin packing the next day.
I was reminded of a story the prophet Jeff Burke had shared some years earlier. The Lord spoke to Jeff and told him He was going to show him what it was like to live as possessing all things, though owning nothing. A short time later Jeff received a phone call from a friend who had just built a new house on a lake. As soon as the house was built his friend learned that he was to be transferred out of the country for a year by his employer, and he asked Jeff if he and his family would like to live there for a year at no cost. I told Tony that if God could provide a house for them in such a remarkable manner that He could do so for us as well.
We arrived at the attorney’s office, and we learned some things about bankruptcy I had never heard before. The right to declare bankruptcy had been written into the laws of the United States as a right for all citizens, and it was partially a response to the debtors’ prisons that had existed in Europe. One form of Bankruptcy is Chapter 7, and it is commonly referred to as “Fresh Start.” God had told me that He was going to give us a fresh start, so this was a great confirmation to me. We would give our house and van back to the creditors, and all of our outstanding debts would be made null and void.
I wondered about the Biblical precedence for such an action, and the Spirit reminded me of the law of Jubilee in Scripture. Every fiftieth year all land was to return to its original owners, all countrymen who had sold themselves as slaves were to be set free, and all debts forgiven (Leviticus 25). This was a remarkable law that God had ordained for Israel that had no precedence in any of the other nations. The year of Jubilee was called a year of release, and every form of bondage that an Israelite could be subject to was to be canceled in this fiftieth year. Around this time, we went with our friends the Barnes’ to visit a church they attended, and I noticed a large banner across one wall that proclaimed that it was the year of Jubilee. The Spirit was proving that it would be one for us.
After paying the lawyer the entire fee for the bankruptcy proceeding, we were told that we would be assigned a date to show up in bankruptcy court, and they would notify us of the date. We headed back to our friends’ house, and I told Tony once more that I was going to begin packing the next day as God had told me to do.
That evening Tony went out with Barbara, and everyone else scattered in different directions, leaving me home alone. I used the time to pray. I was confessing to the Lord that I had done what He had instructed me to do by filing for bankruptcy, and that I was going to begin packing in the morning, even though I had no money to rent a place, and I did not know where I would go. I asked God to reveal to me where we were to go. As I was praying the phone rang. I did not answer the phone because it was not my house, but I listened as a lady we knew, who had once attended Living Faith, left a message for Tony and I on the answering machine. She said that she had a vacant house that she owned in Macon, Georgia, and that she had felt led of the Lord to offer for us to stay there free for the next month and a half. She added that if we wanted to stay longer she would charge us rent of $500 a month.
There was a leaping in my spirit when I heard this message, for I KNEW God had just answered the cry of my heart. Here was a home in Macon, Georgia, the same city in which the bankruptcy court was located, and we were being offered six weeks of free rent. We were to find out shortly that our court date would fall just before the end of this six weeks.
When everyone returned home I told them about the phone call, and Randy agreed that this was the provision of the Lord for us. Tony, however, did not want to even consider moving there, for she had heard that the home was in a bad neighborhood. I convinced her to go with me to take a look at the home. Even though I did not have the money to be choosy, I had prayed specifically about the place God would take us. I had asked God to provide us a home that had bedrooms for each of the children, and a fenced yard to let the dogs out in. This house had both, and it was very tidy and attractive.
When we were looking over the home, Tony asked me to speak to her outside. She told me that she would not move there because of the neighborhood. I reminded her of how God had provided it at the moment I asked Him to reveal where we were to move, but she continued saying she would not move there. I told her that we had no other options, for there were no other homes being offered to us, and she still said she would not move there. I tried to console her by telling her that God would not have provided it unless He wanted us to be there, and that He would take care of us, but her fear was tremendous. Randy also sought to encourage her.
I was not thrilled about moving to this house either, but I knew it was God’s will, and this comforted me. One of the reasons for my lack of joy was a sign I saw as we approached the neighborhood this home was located in. We had to go down a street in Macon called Vineville, and just before the road we were to turn onto there was a road sign pointing to the very road we had to go down to get to the house. The sign said “Payne City.” In my spirit I knew immediately that this was more than just a coincidental road sign, but that we were about to endure a time of pain. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I knew we had to follow where the Lord was leading.
When we approached the house for the very first time I noticed the house number was 3456. As I looked at these numbers the Spirit said, “Here I will set your household in order.” The street the house was located on was called Kingsbury, and as I meditated on this the Spirit told me that He was going to bury some things here that had been strongholds in our lives for a long time, and we would never walk in those things again.
I suppose some reading of these things may never have experienced the Spirit speaking to them through such means, and some may even see these things as silly, or the fruit of an overactive imagination. The Spirit bore witness to these things, however, and everything He spoke to me was to come true. It was to be a time of much pain. Our household would be set in order, and God would bury some things here, such as my covetous inclinations which led me to incur debt, and we would never walk in these things again. God is an omnipotent Father, and it did not tax Him in the least to set all of these signs of His working before me. If Christ could tell Peter to cast a hook into the sea to catch a fish with a coin in its mouth to pay the temple tax, then He had no trouble ordering the circumstances of my life in similarly incredible fashion.
God knew the difficulty of what I was about to walk through, and I needed much assurance that I was in His will. While in Payne City I would be tempted to bail out of the walk of faith God had called me to, and to go seek a job just to relieve the pressure I was under. The Lord performed one more action to keep me from doing so.
On the day of our move I rented a truck and the Barnes family helped us load up all of our possessions in Fort Valley and move us to Macon. I do not remember doing anything to injure myself, but as the day wore on I began experiencing more and more pain in my hip and left leg. This pain was to remain with me during our entire stay in Payne City, and it reached a point that I could only walk by leaning on a cane. This kept me from abandoning the walk of faith God had called me to by going out and seeking employment, but it also provided another message from the Father.
During the time we were at this home, the Georgia National Fair was held in a nearby town, and I wanted to take my children, for they enjoyed the fair immensely. I prayed and asked God if He would provide the means for me to take my children, and not much later their grandfather gave them money for tickets and for the rides. My hip was so painful at this time that I had to rent a wheelchair at the fair and let Tony and our children push me around.
We went through one building where exhibitors and various businesses had booths set up. One of the booths belonged to a local chiropractor, and I felt led to ask them about my condition. Upon hearing the symptoms they said that I was suffering from sciatica, which is an inflammation of the sciatic nerve. They gave me a brochure that described what I was experiencing exactly.
Later, when I was back at our house I began to study the sciatic nerve to see what it represented in Scripture. I learned that this nerve is the same one the Jews identify as the sinew the angel touched in the hip of Jacob when Jacob wrestled with God. Jacob refused to let go of the angel until he received a blessing, and I was also experiencing a time of great wrestling.
The struggle was tremendous for me, for I was dealing with Tony’s daily threats of divorcing me and taking my children with her. Some family members were also encouraging her to divorce me. In the eyes of many Christians, including the men I formerly ministered with, I stood condemned, having been numbered among the transgressors. My agony over all these things was great. Despite all these pressures, I clung desperately to God and would not abandon the struggle, for I felt with a certainty that if I did so I would forfeit the blessing of God. This thought alone kept me on the cross God had called me to endure.
I read further about Jacob’s own wrestling with God, and the following is recorded:
Now the sun rose upon [Jacob] just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh. Therefore, to this day the sons of Israel do not eat the sinew of the hip which is on the socket of the thigh, because he touched the socket of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip.
Jacob leaned on his staff from that day forward. What is pictured here is God breaking the natural strength of a man. The staff is a type of Christ, and when Jacob’s natural strength was touched he was forced to lean on God. So, too, God was seeking to break the natural strength in my life. He sought to deliver me from my tendency to accomplish things through human scheming and carnal means. He wanted me to lean upon Him entirely.
Thus far in this book I have shared how God has spoken to me through the lives of Joseph, David and Jacob. He has shown me definite parallels in my own walk and experiences, and those of these men. This should not strike any as unusual, for the lives of the Old Testament saints are recorded for us as examples. God will lead His elect through circumstances that bear striking similarity to those who have gone before. As Solomon testified:
That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.
The histories recorded in Scripture serve to provide encouragement and understanding to those who know God’s dealings in their lives. I have many times received strength, and stood firm in the midst of some trial, as I have reflected on God’s dealing with men who have gone before me. I am most grateful for these examples, for the lives of these men continue to witness to this day.
From the book Evidence of Things Unseen:
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