As Vicki and I were getting ready for me to leave my day job and go into fulltime ministry, a lot of thoughts came to mind. Some were good, but a lot were not so good. They were thoughts and fears that were sent by the evil one (the accuser of the brethren, that sneaky snake, the devil himself). They were thoughts that would convince any normal person not to do something as stupid as quit a good job with good benefits to work with poor and homeless people, especially in this economy. (For the record, Vicki and I took a vow to not ever be “normal” long before we met, but this was a tough decision—or at least a little bit tough—even for us.)
During the moments we felt unsure, the Lord brought to memory times when He had provided in the past—times when I knew that I knew that He had taken care of me. I think this is what Revelation 12:11 means: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (NIV). Erwin McManus puts it this way: We are to witness about God and what He has done. The only things we can truly witness to are those that He has done in our lives; all the rest is just knowledge that we report.
What this means for me is that, as we walk through this life that God has laid before us (and if we have chosen to follow His lead), we witness things that become a testimony to build our faith, and the faith of those around us, so that we are ready for the next rock to climb or the next leap of faith. And believe me when I tell you I’ve had the privilege of witnessing some amazing stuff, even though I feel like my walk has just begun. One example that comes to mind is based on the scripture that God knows even the number of hairs on our head. In other words, He cares about the little stuff—the stuff no one else sees or cares about. This is one of those stories…
After I had moved to Nashville to be an inner-city missionary, things were good, but they were hard. I had worked hard all my life; I wasn’t very successful, but I worked hard. When I decided to move from Clarksville to Nashville, I was working three jobs. I was a breakfast cook in a local diner, I worked as a sound guy at a local bar on the weekends, and I freelanced as a sound tech with a couple of sound companies. When I came to Nashville, I quit all three jobs and went to work as a missionary for $75 a week. Needless to say, money was tight, but God provided over and over.
I had been at the ministry about three or four months, working in the warehouse. One day, I was watching for the food truck to run so we would have food for the community meal called Meal of Hope. While I worked, I started thinking about one of my favorite things to eat. To most people, it wouldn’t mean much—but being a country boy from Tennessee, I had a real draw to country ham. Back when I worked as a breakfast cook, one of the fringe benefits was that a few times a week I would fix myself a couple of small pieces of country ham. And sometimes I’d fix myself a whole piece. I know what some of you are thinking: that country ham is really bad for me…but that’s why it’s so good. So this day while I was working, I just happened to start thinking about that country ham, but with my budget, going out and buying it was out of the question. I remember saying under my breath, “Lord it’s been a while…it sure would taste good right now.” Then I went on about my chores and gave it no more thought.
The food truck came and went like it normally did, and I started sorting through the pan food that had arrived, checking each pan to see its content and deciding what would be served and what would be saved for later. I checked this one pan and saw it was full of cornbread, and I was about to set it aside when I noticed there was something barely sticking out from under one of the pieces of bread. As I took the cornbread out of the pan, I started to laugh. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Under the squares of cornbread was half a piece of cooked country ham.
Work stopped for me for a few minutes while I fixed myself a sammich. My request a little earlier that day had been just a thought. Most people wouldn’t even consider it a prayer, but my heavenly Daddy answered it anyway. In the grand scheme of things, that gift didn’t do much, but it let me know that He was watching out for me...and that He cared about and would provide even the small stuff in all our lives. This was the first of many times that I felt God winking at me—His little Bubba.