17 March 2006

The Junie Story

Matt’s in bed and he hears, “Congratulations. You finally made it. Now get ready to move on to the next thing, hugs and kisses, God"

Back in 1998 I was new to Newberg. I was a full time student at GFU and living on my Navy education money, about $800/mo for rent, food, and all that plus school expenses – things were...um...tight. I was also new to my church, I’d been attending for about 4 months.

At the time, I had a strong feeling that I should give $500 to the church. You should know that the idea that God would give me some kind of a specific direction like that was a very new idea for me. I’d never really had anything like that happen before. And it wasn’t just a sense that I should give some money to the church, or a lot of money, but a specific amount - $500. That decision vexed me for over a month while I talked with my pastor, talked to my teachers, wrung my hands and flipped out. I had all kinds of good reasons not to do it – it was bad stewardship! It was way more than 10% of my income! It would certainly cause me to skip on other financial commitments that I had! Quite frankly the whole idea was just foolish. But from the moment He spoke, I knew that He had spoke, and what was really happening was that I was trying to find a way out from under it and my brain was leading that charge while my heart never really bought all the arguments. Also, all the counsel I got from people I trusted came down to something like this – despite the way the circumstances look, we’re called to obey. SO do that.

Eventually I screwed up my courage, took a deep breath and wrote a check. I drove that check over to my church and with downcast eyes gave the check over to John Teeters. “I’m supposed to give this to the church.” I said – moping.
“Really?,” he said. “Any reason in particular?”
“Not that I know of.”
“Well I think I know – thanks.”he said smiling...and that was that. No explanation, no big fanfare that was nearly up to the stress I had endured over the decision. Just a casual ‘Thanks” like I’d given him a lollipop. Still, it was behind me and the peace of finally having made a decision was reward enough. Right or wrong it was now officially in the past. On my back to the car, as clear as day, God says “Good job. Now prepare to give $5,000.”

I was like “You gotta be kidding me!” but I hid that thought in my heart for a couple years while I graduated from college, started working, and got married. In all that time I never knew what that whole episode was about except that it was a powerful lesson in obedience. I did miss several bill payments – God didn’t promise me that following his lead wouldn’t cost me anything. In fact, if anything, He promises that following Him WILL cost us – sometimes our very lives. But He also promises that it’s worth it. That one struggle with hearing his voice and trusting it no mater how things looked lead me into further adventures that turned into huge blessings. Going to Africa and marrying Rebekah are only two of them and for me I looked back on that as a turning point, and that was enough.

Bt then sometime in 2001, so about three years after that $500 check was done, there’s a guest speaker at church. It’s a young lady named Junie who has recently returned from a long term mission and she wants to tell her story to TFC since the church helped with her support. I’ve never seen or met Junie, but she’s so full of the Spirit and joy and seems so totally sold out for Jesus it’s neat to watch her. After hearing about tribes and weird food and jungle rot she wants to talk about Providence. Before she left she was raising support from TFC and one or two other local churches. With literally 3 days to go before her deadline she had raised $1,500 of the $2,000 her organization required her to raise – and she was getting desperate. She knew that the call to this mission was real but God hadn’t provided the money – what was she to think? And then, she says, a mysterious check for $500 suddenly came through TFC – it made her requirement almost perfectly and without that she might never have gone. She never knew where that money came from...but I did. I almost lost there that day – it was a good thing I was in the back – because God seemed to turn to me with this knowing little wink and whisper - “You didn’t think I would just fritter away your sacrifice did you?”

For the record, Junie went on to become the children’s pastor at my church – because of what we had done for her - where she did a fantastic job of raising God fearing little children. She was a fantastic source of joy and love and eventually found her husband there. But the story continues...

Not long after that I made the decision to quit my day job and start my own business. As part of that I took a loan against my house as start-up money and as that loan finalized and I’m looking at my bank account wondering about the best way to manage this cash God says “Remember the $5,000?” OK – I’ve just quit my job. I have a new wife which is a responsibility that I’ve never had before. We have a new house, that I just took a loan against. Are you serious? The struggle over $5,000 wasn’t nearly as vexing as the $500 because I had several years of experience behind me this time – I had learned to trust God in both thick and thin – so I did cough up the money. To date, there hasn’t been anything where God showed me a direct result of that donation, but then again, I’m at a place in my faith where I don’t really need that anymore. I know He’s good for it. I know it was something. Most importantly, I know that’s what He asked for – and I don’t need to know why. I do know that God’s hand has been on this business ever since then. Helping us through both good and hard times and making this a incredibly rich season in my life. If nothing else, just submitting Code-Monkeys to His will in that very tangible way has been a fertile field of spiritual growth.

After that $5k went out, as clear as day, God said - “Thanks. Get ready for $50,000.”

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