The last few weeks have been very tumultuous. My ex-husband and I aren’t agreeing on a schedule for my daughter. My husband, Rex, and I are frustrated with each other, and the kids are tense. I don’t feel well in general. I’m exhausted all the time, and the pain in my hands is back. And then there’s the bills. We never did a good job of consolidating our finances when we got married so we don’t know exactly where we stand, but we know we both have a lot of debt and very little cash in the bank. Then one of my monthly clients called and said they were taking their accounting in-house and wouldn’t need our services any longer. And now I’m wondering how much more I can take. I’m really not sure where to turn.
Rex has another evening function to attend, and I remember that there’s a Wednesday night service tonight. I feel like going home and pulling the covers over my head, but something gets me and the youngest girls to church. I drop them off in the children’s area and head into the main service just as the band begins to play. My emotions are very raw, and the songs seem to dig right to my soul. Then Pastor Bil comes out. He never preaches on Wednesday nights, but you can see the focused look in his eyes. He says that the offering tonight is going to be different. Instead of giving money, he wants us to give whatever is filling the space between us and God, whatever we’re clinging to instead of putting our faith in Him. They place the offering buckets on stage, and Pastor Bil tells us to stay and pray until we figure it out.
I look down at my pockets, wondering where to even begin. In my right front pocket, I have the keys to my Xterra. In my back pocket, I have my drivers license and my American Express card. That’s it. My head and heart are racing. Fortunately, the band begins to play a slower song, and I start to settle down. I close my eyes and pray.
Lord, what am I supposed to do here? I believe in you, but I don’t know where to start. Everything is a mess. And I don’t have anything with me. What is it I’m supposed to give? My car keys . . . my Xterra? That can’t be it. I owe more than it’s worth. . . . . . the American Express card? Ok, that would be different. Ok? I’m feeling like that is what I’m supposed to do. Is that it, God?
I sit down, and I’m at peace. I can’t say I really understand, but I feel like I’m supposed to give the American Express card. So I get up. I walk to the stage. I drop it in the bucket. I head out to pick up the girls from children’s church. As we’re walking out, my daughter says, “Mom, can we go by Taco Bell for dinner tonight?”
It stops me in my tracks. “No, honey, not tonight,” I manage to reply as it hits me how much life is about to change. I pay for everything with that card. We pay for everything with that card. As we get into the Xterra, I’m thankful it has plenty of gas.
The next morning, I’m at the office with Rex and our other team members. I haven’t mentioned what happened yet. The phone rings, and it’s the Controller from Bay Area Fellowship. I’ve met her, but I wouldn’t say we’re friends. She says that she has my card and asks me what I want her to do with it. I hadn’t thought that far. I jokingly tell her that she can use it for another ten days or so, but it probably won’t work after that. We owe a fortune that’s due every thirty days and without using it to continuously roll business expenses, we can’t make the payment. That all comes out before I even realize what I’ve just said. And now the reality is really hitting me. I’m wondering if I did the right thing.
I can hear her voice get shaky. She thanks me. She says that my faith is inspiring. She says that she’s going to put it in the safe and look at it when she needs a reminder to keep her faith in God, particularly when all the pressures of managing the finances of a rapidly expanding church are bearing down on her. I honestly can’t believe what I’m hearing. I can’t comprehend that my credit card that isn’t even going to work in a few days would mean anything to anyone else. She tells me to be proud of the step of faith I just took and to trust in Him. I thank her and we hang up. I shut the door to the conference room and just cry.
For the first time, I realize that I have taken a step of faith. I begin to realize the extent of the change I’ve set in motion. And now it’s time to tell Rex. I tell him about the church service and the instructions for the offering and how I know that I did the right thing. I tell him about the phone call. He doesn’t say much. He points out what a disruption this will be to our normal lives, and I tell him that I recognize that. We agree to talk about it again in a few days. I muddle through the day, getting my work done but completely distracted. I feel like I’m supposed to be scared to death, but I have an unfamiliar peace.
That evening, Rex and I start reconciling the American Express account to figure out what is due when. We determine that we owe about $80,000, with about $20,000 due in about ten days and the balance in 30 days after that. We calculate that we have about $5,000 in accounts receivable to apply to the first balance, but not much beyond that. The numbers are big and scary, but there’s an odd comfort in just knowing where to begin. We’re both stressed, and I just start to pray. I pray anytime I can. I silently pray in the morning as I eat breakfast. I pray in the shower. I pray when I drive. I don’t know what else to do, so I just pray.
Now it’s Monday morning, and I can feel the anxiety building. I’m eating my cereal, praying, and then an idea pops in my head. I have a client whose monthly bill averages $1,500 per month. They’ve been a client forever, and I have a great business relationship with the CEO. What if I offered them 12 months of service for the price of 10, but only if they paid the entire year’s fee up front? They have great cash flow. It would be a win-win for everyone. And then I realize that I have to ask for the money. I’m not good at that, never have been. But what other choice do I have? This is it. I call the CEO, make an appointment, type up the proposal, and present it to him later that day. He’s interested, but wants to think about it for a few days.
Tuesday . . . Wednesday . . . Thursday . . . the balance is due on Monday, and I’m running out of days.
Then I get the email. He agrees to it. I can pick up the signed proposal and check on Friday morning. We deposit the check, pay the bill, and just look at each other in silence. We just lived a miracle. We just paid off $20,000 in ten days. Whoa.
In the five years since, a similar scenario has repeated itself multiple times. I wish I could tell you that I recognized them all as miracles. Often, I contributed the successes to my own business acumen.
Now, I know better, and it is incredibly comforting.
Today, I had a conversation with another entrepreneur, and I asked him how he came up with the idea for his business. His response was, “Do you believe in God?” He proceeded to tell me how the roadmap for his business had been poured out to him at critical steps along the way.
It gave me the chills. We’ve experienced the exact same thing with 3eWerks.
At every critical juncture, there’s been provision.
Key relationships have literally walked through our doors on the way to other meetings. Important projects have fizzled, to be exposed as severely flawed months later. Unexpected deposit checks have arrived just when they’re needed to meet payroll.
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be the glory for ever and ever.
– the Apostle Paul, Philippians 4:19-20
Shortly after that conversation, Byron and I were regrouping on what was needed to have a successful month. We identified a round number. Within the hour, he had an email confirmation for a project next week that took care of a good chunk. As we headed out the door this afternoon, we checked the mail downstairs. As we opened the envelope containing a check for the rest of it, we couldn’t help but look at each other and just smile.
The message couldn’t be any clearer: He provides.
We can trade our worries about having a successful startup for a daily focus on the plans that have been revealed to us.
The even better news is that trade is available to you too. What worries are you ready to trade in?