There was a time in our lives when we were so broke that if we walked by a bank, the alarms would go off. The bankers knew we didn’t have any money in the bank so they figured we must be coming to take some out.
We were so broke that when we went to have a family photograph taken and the photographer said “cheese” my kids all rushed to stand in line to get some.
All jokes aside, there was a time when we had one nostril above some troubled financial waters. Every now and then a wave would roll over us and we would struggle for air to breathe. But God move us to a new level and He’ll do the same thing for you.
Where I was…
At the time I was pastor of administration at an Assembly of God in Goldsboro, NC. We owed multiple loans because of money borrowed to pay the IRS. We were also paying for every trip our babies made to the doctor including any medicines that were prescribed. All we had was a major medical policy for emergencies and that payment was larger than our house payment.
But the devil made sure we could use it when our 2-month-old daughter was diagnosed, first with meningitis and then encephalitis and landed at Duke University for six days.
Because we had the major medical we only added $13,000 to our bulging debt load.
Our finances were literally on life-support.
So when I came home from work late one afternoon and my fine wife, Bev, met me at the door to say God had spoken to her about increasing our tithes and offerings, I was immediately financially numb.
Being the deep man of God that I was, I looked at my wife and said, “Are you really sure it was Him?” She wouldn’t tell me the amount she just asked me to pray and see what God told me. She also said that if God gave me the same amount He gave her that we would be faithful to do it.
So after the kids went to bed that night, I prayed and asked God what He would have us do. When He gave me the amount, I was sure that I was in a bad cell phone area. Surely this number was for somebody else. In my mind, I knew God knew we didn’t have the kind of money He was telling us to give. But at the time, I didn’t realize it was God testing my heart and obedience in order to take us to the next level. To be truthful the test shook me up.
God had plans I didn’t know about…
So on the very next Sunday, when Bev was placing our increased tithe along with an offering into the collection plate, I was out in the foyer of our church tending to my administrative duties.
A friend of ours named Steve approached me and started telling how his boss had blessed him that Friday by selling him a Cadillac with less than 12,000 miles for $1,000. It was easily worth about $18,000-$20,000.
I began to praise God for his blessing when Steve looked at me rather seriously and said, “Harold, you know I don’t need a car like that Cadillac with the tools I haul around for my job. I need a car like that.” Steve was pointing out into the parking lot where sat my “anointed” car I affectionately referred to as “The Rocket.”
My car was a 1979 Delta 88 Oldsmobile with the ugliest two shades of yellow you have ever seen in your life but I kept that car washed and vacuumed and it was paid for. I called it “anointed” because every time it rained, my trunk became a swimming pool and at least once a week I had to add a quart of Quaker State 10W 30 motor oil to keep it from smoking.
I said, “Look, Steve, I don’t have a $1,000 to buy this Cadillac and even if I did, I wouldn’t do it because you’ve got at least an $18,000 blessing here.”
Steve looked at me and said, “Harold, I’m not asking you to buy the car, I’m giving it to you.” I was stunned. I looked at him in disbelief and again being the mighty man of God that I was, I asked, “Are you sure?” Steve laughed and said, “Harold, that’s exactly what I asked God yesterday when He told me to do this! To tell you the truth before I figured out it was God, I said, “Get thee behind me, Satan, this is my car.”
God’s plans were much bigger than mine…
Two weeks later John Avanzini came to speak at our church. It was about an hour and twenty-minute drive from our church to the Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina Airport. I went to pick up Brother John driving my new Cadillac.
On the drive home, Brother John started sharing with me the vision God had given him to get the Body of Christ out of debt. As he spoke, God stirred in my spirit ideas to share with him on how he might be more effective in fulfilling that vision. This went on for about an hour.
I remember the location we were at on Highway 70 just outside Princeton, North Carolina, when Brother John looked at me and said, “You’re the only man in seven years of traveling who ever fully understood what God has called me to do.” Obviously, I was blessed to hear that mighty man of God offer me such kind words.
I think my next comment was something profound like, “do you want to eat barbecue or fried chicken?” I was not looking for anything else. I was just blessed to be able to spend time with the man of God.
Shortly after, Bev and I were asked to have dinner with Brother John and Sister Pat after the service and he offered to move us to Fort Worth, Texas to work for the ministry. I was shocked enough that I told Brother John that I would definitely have to pray about it. Two things immediately came to my mind. First, I didn’t want to be a hireling. I wanted to only do what God called me to do. Second, I told Brother John that I lived 15 minutes from my parents and that I was my Mama’s favorite child. (Bev pointed out that I was her only child.)
Brother John told me he was leaving on a 4-5 week trip to Asia and then to England. He told me to give him a call upon his return and he gave me his home telephone number.
Where was God leading …?
Bev and I held this offer in our hearts. We didn’t tell a single person not even members of our family. This was a bold step to be taking but we felt as though God were stirring us to go. So at a Wednesday prayer service about two weeks later, we asked a couple that used to live in Fort Worth to meet us the next night. We wanted to ask them some questions about Fort Worth and get them to help us in pray about the decision we needed to make.
As Bev and I told the couple about the job offer from Brother John they began to laugh. I asked them what was so funny and they said something that has stayed with me to this day. They relayed that the night before they had been praying to prepare their hearts to pray with us when God told them “Harold and Bev are moving to Fort Worth, Texas. He’s going to work for John Avanzini where he will be used to teach millions of people how to become debt free.” He had even written it out on a piece of paper which we still have.
I looked at Bev and said, “Baby, we’re moving to Texas.”
I called Brother John on the appointed date and told him that we received a clear word from the Lord that we were to move to Fort Worth and join him in helping the Body of Christ become debt free. He said that in his spirit, he felt that we would be joining him.
Up to that point we had never discussed salary. I can’t remember that Bev and I had even thought about what it would be. But that night on the phone, Brother John told me he’d move us to Texas and he gave me the amount of my new salary. Even then it did not occur to Bev or me that ten percent of the salary that Brother John offered me was the exact same amount that nine weeks previously God had told my wife and I to increase our tithe to. God had perfectly planned the whole thing.
Was that increase convenient to our flesh? No! Could we afford that kind of increase? No! I think back now and wonder where I would be if we had not obeyed what God directed. It was a 60% increase in our tithe and we were barely buying groceries at the time but somehow God made it work … because we obeyed His voice.
I know from experience there are defining moments where God will speak to you . . . times when He’s provoking you to move outside your comfort zone and believe BIG. The key is to be obedient even if you don’t recognize His visitation at the moment it comes. He wants to know if He can get finances through you …because if He can get finances through you, He can certainly get them to you.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS