How many of us think that it had to be something we did wrong that caused our current distress? Whether the distress is related to our health, a relationship, or in regard to our finances, we believe that it had to be our “fault” that this dreadful thing happened.
By blaming ourselves for the mess, however, we have proven a true and humble heart, since the characteristic of the adulteress is that she believes she is never at fault. Proverbs 30:20 tell us, “This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’”
Taking the responsibility for why we are in our present crisis or distress is a great place to start finding our way out—since it leads to us seeking the Lord to search our heart. “Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139: 23–24 AMP).
However, once you have taken a thorough look at yourself, repented of anything, then it’s time to move on to a principle that very few Christians understand. Sadly, even many pastors ignore the principle when preaching. It’s understanding that a crisis is often more about God obtaining a greater glory and also for Him to be able to ultimately bless you. Here’s the principle in this verse:
“Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, ‘Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?’ Jesus said, ‘You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do’” (John 9:1–2 MSG).
Our human nature loves to blame someone for the reason when something is wrong. We believe that every problem that plagues us is the result of someone’s sin, someone’s mistake, someone who is out to get us, when, in fact, it is often God Himself who is behind it. We know this is true because it says so in this verse, “That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these” (Isaiah 45:7).
Yet Christians still refuse to look at this as even a remote possibility; the possibility that it could be God, not just God who is “allowing” this “enemy” attack, but actually God who created the calamity. Yet, if we go beyond the Who and take the next step to “why” then we could fully understand: It is due to God seeking a greater glory, to show the lost (and the believer) what He can do—the impossible.
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” “Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jeremiah 32:27; 32:17)! And finally, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). If you remember, Erin said this verse in Luke is the principle that RMI was founded on, and what keeps it going even now.
So, let me ask you: Why wallow in guilt, or focus on blaming someone else when we are free to move on to the exciting part of each crisis—what also helps to repel fear and shame? Why not look for what God can do and is about to do in our lives when a crisis hits or calamity strikes? Quickly shift the way you think remembering “it was so that the works of God might be displayed”!
Over the past two years, I have felt incredibly blessed because God actually chose me to go through some pretty incredible, and often unbelievable trials, in order to allow the works of God to be displayed. So often when trials hit us, we dread, panic, hide, feel guilty, and experience every negative emotion under the sun. Yet, by allowing negative thoughts and feelings to be our focus, which often consumes us, we usually miss the anticipation and excitement of what God is about to do when He shows up in our current crisis. And fear can even block what He wants to do, just as Jesus explained in Mark 6:5, “And He [Jesus] could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief.” The Voice says, “He was amazed by the stubbornness of their unbelief.”
Is it stubbornness that causes us to block what He wants to do? Why not just come to a place of utter surrender, no longer wasting time on what we did wrong or blaming others? That’s when we will finally understand that God is not interested in us fixing our mistakes. So why do we always try to fix something when our Father or our Husband is about to show up and do the impossible if we would simply turn everything over to Him?
Therein lies another myth, when Christians tell us “God is never late.”
Absolutely, not so.
As I shared in the last chapter, it was after my pledge was due, after the senior pastor said we were released, when God showed me the way to pay it—when a miracle was sent to me from the other side of the earth!
Also, Jesus should be known for being late, and for being late on purpose. “So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was... So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days... Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.’... Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’” (John 11:6, 17, 32, 40).
Jesus knew what waiting would do—so He never rushed ahead—He knew it would bring His Father greater glory! Yes, had Jesus gotten there “on time” He would have healed His sick friend and prevented Lazarus’ sisters mourning when their brother died. But for Jesus to wait, and be late on purpose, meant that the dead would be raised—proving that God can go beyond what we could ever have believed or comprehended!
The story of Lazarus being raised from the dead, and the fact that Jesus was late on purpose, is significant to me personally because this is the story the Lord told me to remember when I first sought Him regarding my financial crisis. He spoke this to me the first time when I was in South Africa and just a couple of weeks into a very long and grueling tour that took me around the world. To my horror, the day before I left for this five-week trip around the world, my bank accounts were totally empty after I withdrew just a very small amount of cash to bring with me! I even hesitated to take the cash out when I saw that by doing so I would have nothing left, but the Lord insisted (as I sought Him).
It is in obeying in the small things (those day-to-day things) that get you to the place of obeying and trusting Him in the big things. If I had not sought Him, and also obeyed what I heard even though it was terrifying to do so financially, I would never have made it to South Africa. When I was ready to leave this country, I found out that I needed that cash to get an unexpected visitor’s visa to get into Brazil. And to get me ready to believe and increase my faith, even more, I was told at the airport that it would take a full 6 months to get a visitor’s visa. Yet only 25 hours after I applied I got mine and got the last seat on that plane! Therein was the first proof that God was in control and would actually begin to use more crises in my life to prove that He was setting me up to eventually bless me. Yes, financially, but the principle stretches into every area of our lives. An incredible principle so few understand, and even fewer are able to make it through because they fail to know or believe what He says. They fail to trust Him in the little things, therefore, when the bigger crises hit, their spiritual muscles are unable to lift or carry the weight of it.
Many of us snicker at the foolish and faithless Israelites, wandering in the desert, people who began to fear at every turn even though they had witnessed firsthand the miracles surrounding the plagues that resulted in their escape from Egypt. And then if that were not enough to build their faith (as we laughingly shake our heads), they even watched the Red Sea become a freeway to the other side. But how can we scoff when so many of us act the same way when we are experiencing far fewer difficulties than they faced? So often we have seen God work miraculously and precisely in so many ways in our lives and in the lives of others. We make reading testimonies a daily habit and yet when He sets us up for the next crisis in our own lives, we immediately suffer from amnesia and entirely forget about His faithfulness—and His timing!
That’s why when we begin to stress about His timing (when time is running out) that’s when we need to remember that Jesus is often late on purpose—so that God will gain greater glory. Instead of simply healing a sick man, which is commendable, He’s late a full four days—four days with a man beginning to stink in a tomb. Each hour more crowds are gathering—when Jesus shows up and shouts, “Lazarus, come forth!” Dear friend, that’s the sort of miracle that will rock the world.
By the time I got to South Africa, I could sense that there had to be financial trouble back in the States, but each time I tried to get online to take a look at my accounts (that I do regularly when I travel), no matter how hard I tried to get in, God stopped me. It wasn’t the internet connection either because I could easily speak with my children, and see them clearly throughout our video chat. But I could not get into my bank to see how bad things had become in my bank accounts. Why?
Did you know that God’s miracles are usually formed in secret? “My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret” (Psalm 139:15). Not only does He want to keep us from concern and many fears that we would experience if we were watching His every move, He also likes to build us up for the big surprise when our miracle appears.
Let me stop here to say that I do know that most expectant mothers have ultrasounds that tell not only the gender of their unborn baby but often detect (possible) abnormalities. Though many of these tests were available even when I was pregnant, I refused to have them, often having to sign a waiver releasing the doctors from any future responsibility or potential lawsuit. After I turned forty, during a pregnancy, I had a Christian doctor who couldn’t understand why I refused. She said even if I wouldn’t choose abortion, I should want to at least know if my baby would be born with an abnormality in order that I was “prepared.” As I was signing the release I simply said, “If something is wrong, He will either fix it, or He’ll prepare me.” One I didn’t take into consideration was Him taking children to be with Him before they could be born with something abnormal, that particular baby girl I lost. Why He wanted her is nothing I need to concern myself with, just knowing He’s watching what God determined should be “hidden” is enough for me to trust Him. Over the years I’ve watched so many mothers who suffered needlessly when they were told anything from being unable to conceive to obvious errors in diagnosis that were not present when their babies were born or abnormalities they grew out of (in other words, were healed from).
Please understand I am not saying, nor do I tell anyone to live at this level of faith. You need to crawl before you walk, walk before you run, and practice your faith daily before entering or winning the Olympics. Simple live happily at whatever level of faith you have and trust God to create a variety of calamities to help it increase.
What kept me going then, and what keeps me going now, is to stop looking at how bad things are. Thankfully, most of my bills are done by auto-payments; therefore, I don’t have to keep staring at what is happening with my finances. Yes, I could, but I don’t. Instead, I look up, into His face, focusing on His goodness and faithfulness—remembering all that He has done for me in the past to keep my faith built up.
The truth is, God did not simply thrust me into this wilderness without first showing me His awesomeness and His faithfulness for many, many years. On two occasions, just recently, God showed me an incredible financial miracle right before my very eyes. The first happened when I had agreed to take on all the family and ministry debt when my husband filed for divorce. It was more than overwhelming since my husband told me honestly that I would not be able to pay all the bills, and due to my giving and stupidity, I would lose our home too.
Since God had taken the time to make me look foolish, to me it was evidence that He was going to do something a bit radical, which meant He’d called me to some sort of radical obedience.
The Lord prompted me to pay thousands of dollars that I told you about in Chapter 1. And as a result, as you also read, a miracle happened. Then, so that I would have two financial miracles to remember when things got to the huge crisis I am living now, God allowed me to wake up one morning only to find that I had no money in either of my accounts. It was just after Christmas—how’s that for starting the New Year right?
So, let me share this testimony with you; because, guess what? Sharing what God has already done not only can encourage you, but it also keeps me going forward knowing what He is about to do now when I need Him even more! Though I don’t know the details of how He’ll do it (because if I did, I might become fearful), I do, however, know how it ends!
What He’s done, the testimonies I share with you throughout this book were never meant just for me. God set me up, allowing me to live through these trials for you—so that you can believe Him for each of your financial crises. And please don’t just think of them within the constraints of your finances—each of His principles is good for everything that ails you! Everything that causes you to fear and pull back from moving forward in faith with Him right at your side.
For this crisis, the Lord told me it wouldn’t happen immediately and told me to “remember Lazarus.” I must be honest, just the thought of me being in a financial tomb and beginning to smell foul (financially) oftentimes makes me feel a bit uneasy or queasy. Yet, each day I wake up and choose to turn those troubled feelings into thoughts of excitement, of a resurrection, rather than a mere healing, which is why He has chosen to make me wait until I am buried.
To be sure, my finances are beginning to smell—oh, but the aroma of an impending miracle! And even though I’ve done my best to do this quietly, the more people who end up knowing what is happening in my life right now, the more ridiculous, odd or irresponsible I am being accused of. However, this place of being hopelessly in need of HIM is the only place I want to be.
Financial Testimony #4
“She Gave Out of her Poverty”
Before I begin, let me lay a foundation. Remember with me the story of the “Widow's Mite” from the Bible, which I shared in an earlier chapter. And just to refresh both our memories, let’s read it again, “And He [Jesus] sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on’” (Mark 12:41-45).
Though I had heard the story many times, it wasn’t until I was asked to give when I was in total ruin that I finally understood what it meant to give out of a lack, rather than from an abundance or at least having enough.
It was December, just five months after my divorce was final. God had been incredibly faithful, and I had done my best to be obedient in everything He told me or showed me to do since taking over the family and ministry’s finances about eight months earlier.
As I mentioned in my testimony in Chapter One, not only did I take on all that debt, agreeing to no child support, but my ministry was also slowly but surely crumbling. In March of the same year, Erin decided we no longer should minister to men, which accounted for more than 50% of my ministry’s income through the book sales; men tended to buy more than women.
The decision to make RMI for women only was posted on Erin’s sites and mine the day before my 50th birthday, in March of that same year (my birthday and Erin’s are less than a week apart). Once my husband told me about filing for divorce, he suggested that I reconsider not selling our men’s resources. Just because of Erin’s decision, there was no good reason I should make the same mistake she was making, he said. Yet I knew it had been God who set it up in that order and that He was using Erin, yet again in my life. God knew that my being a newly divorced woman might put me in a vulnerable position if I had anything to do with interacting with helping men who had also lost their wives.
Besides this, using money to make my decisions is a trap. “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens” (Proverbs 23:4–5).
So, even before my divorce was final, the men’s resources were off my site and my income was immediately cut in half just as RMI’s was.
Enter, the next phase of crises.
Even before the divorce was final, the first of several attacks came. But before I go on, please keep in mind that though these attacks came through my ex-husband, there is no point in looking at “who” your “enemy” might be. God should be well-known for getting His people into situations where the odds are not in our favor—and He does this purposely! It doesn’t matter who He chooses to use—please never lose sight of Who creates calamity and for what purpose. He does so to prosper us, stretching us, by allowing us to be put in precarious situations in order for Him to rescue us at the right time, even when that may be late (on purpose).
Though some may debate this fact, there is one place in particular that there is real proof of this principle when Gideon is told to get rid of more and more of his army—cutting his army of 22,000 down to a mere 300. God purposely stacked the odds against him knowing that it would be the blasts of the trumpets, not the army fighting, that would win the war. It’s the very same with our lives. It’s not what we have left, but simply our shouts of praise that will win any battle raging in our life.
So how could I possibly make it when half of my income was gone? Before I had a chance to think about it, God chose to cut my income even further when my husband made more demands. But as I said earlier, it doesn’t matter whom the Lord chooses to use. My only reason for mentioning this to you is so you can relate to my story, and let go of all the “details” of your current or future crises. My hope is that you will remember to always keep your eyes on where God is headed and Who is holding your hand. Your Husband.
However catastrophic it became, I was able to see almost immediately that this was the opportunity I had been waiting for. For years, I wanted just to GIVE, but I was never in the position of authority to do so. So, now, without needing a husband’s permission, I was able to distribute the rest the contents of my bookstore—giving most of it away for free—and the first box I taped shut was sent to Africa! Awesome, right?
However, once the excitement was over, I was left with less and less of an income. Thankfully, I am not the best at handling finances, so I was not aware of how horrific things were becoming. Not until one morning in December. Here, then, is my testimony.
When I woke early that December morning, I was up extra early since I had a lot to keep me busy. It wasn’t quite dawn when I went into my online banking and found that both our family and ministry accounts, again, were totally empty. I was online to pay bills, but with no money—that was not going to happen! That’s when the Lord spoke to me about cutting the price of the rest of prices in my online bookstore, and then giving a 50% discount to the RMI fellowship members (basically, it meant that it would simply be covering the cost of what I’d paid for them—which meant, I would be getting no profit at all).
No matter how crazy it seemed, I simply thought, “What does it matter anyway since I am basically washed up, ruined?” So, I went ahead, following what the Lord said I needed to do. That same evening, I did another strange thing by answering emails. I never did that (and still don’t) since it makes me think too much at night and I can’t fall asleep. But that night I did, and that’s when I received an email that totally blew me away! Another dear, precious fellowship member of mine, who lives in Asia, wrote to tell me that she was sending a donation of more than fifteen thousand dollars! Read it again. In an instant, God was faithful all because He purposely stacked the odds against me and prompted me to do something ridiculous—give when I really had nothing at all to give. And when I simply obeyed, withholding nothing, He gave abundantly!!
Dear bride, though you may be falling deeper and deeper into debt, God does have a plan and your Husband isn’t concerned one bit. Though whatever’s happening is nothing that you or I could figure out, we shouldn’t even try—not if we want His plan! Just be sure to never, ever seek anyone else’s help, not ever. Instead, simply wait on God, and be sure to wait even if He’s late. Then don’t be surprised when things really heat up and you’re asked to do something ridiculous.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory [when He comes through for you], you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:12).
Though I am in a far more serious situation today than I was even on that day, God has given me (and you) an amazing testimony of what He did not once, but twice. He gave this testimony to us in order for each of us to be ready to be set up for even greater things He wants to do in our lives.
He is our heavenly Husband, after all, the Man who overcame death, and debt, and every other evil of this world. Never forget His promise to us in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”