I shall never forget that first Sunday morning offering: $85.
When the first mortgage payment rolled around at the end of the month, the checking account showed something like $160 in hand. We were going to default right off the bat. How soon would it take to lose the building and be tossed out into the street? That Monday, my day off, I remember praying, "Lord, you have to help me. I don't know much but I do know that we have to pay this mortgage."
I went to the church on Tuesday. Well, maybe someone will send some money out of the blue, I told myself, like what happened so often with George Mueller and his orphanage back in England he just prayed, and a letter or a visitor would arrive to meet his need. The mail came that day-and there was nothing but bills and fliers.
Now I was trapped. I went upstairs, sat at my little desk, put my head down, and began to cry. "God," I sobbed, "what can I do? We can't even pay the mortgage." That night was the midweek service, and I knew there wouldn't be more than three or four people attending. The offering would probably be less than ten dollars. How was I going to get through this? I called out to the Lord for a full hour or so. Eventually, I dried my tears-and a new thought came. Wait a minute! Besides the mail slot in the front door, the church also has a post office box. I'll go across the street and see what's there. Surely God will answer my prayer!
With renewed confidence I walked across the street, crossed the post office lobby, and twirled the knob on the little box. I peered inside...
As I stepped back into the sunshine, trucks roared down Atlantic Avenue. If one had flattened me just then, I wouldn't have felt any lower. Was God abandoning us? Was I doing something that displeased him? I trudged wearily back across the street to the little building.
As I unlocked the door, I was met with another surprise. There on the foyer floor was something that hadn't been there just three minutes earlier: a simple white envelope. No address, no stamp-nothing. Just a white envelope.
With trembling hands I opened it to find ... two $50 bills. I began shouting all by myself in the empty church. "God, you came through! You came through!" We had $160 in the bank, and with this $100 we could make the mortgage payment. My soul let out a deep "Hallelujah!" What a lesson for a disheartened young pastor!
To this day I don't know where that money came from. I only know it was a sign tome that God was near-and faithful.
Cymbala, Jim. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan publishing House, 1997, p. 16-17.
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