God brings trials into our lives to strengthen our faith. He did so with Israel as they left Egypt. He does the same with us. Israel did not just step into the promise land without opposition. They fought to possess that land. They had their moments of doubt. God addressed this in [Deut 7:17-19]. “If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’ You shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all of Egypt; the great trials which your eyes saw and the signs and the wonders and the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out. So shall the Lord your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid,”
Israel faced a trial at the Red Sea, they needed water at the wilderness of Shur, they were hunger in the wilderness of Sin, and again they endured the trial of thirst at Rephidim. Each time God outstretched His hand and moved powerfully to overcome the adversity they faced.
You would think these trials and the subsequent miracles that followed would have given Israel strong faith. How quickly they forgot. Is it any different for us? Don’t we forget yesterday’s victories in light of today’s trials?
As we prepare to move we face two immediate trials. First we must sell our house. Since we have lived there for just a year and a half we will not profit from the sell but break even. We have only had two calls and are supposed to show the house today at 5:00 p.m. Wouldn’t you know it the air conditioning quit cooling today. We are supposed to show the house in two and a half hours. Trial on top of trial. I called the potential buyers after talking to the repairman and moved showing the house back to 6:30 p.m.
The second trial involves finding a place to live in Paradise. Reading this passage out of Deuteronomy 7 encourages me to look back over my life how God has stepped in every single time to make a way. Over the years most of our trials have been financial. I am not motivated by money in ministry and have not one time ever even asked a church what they would pay me. I hear God call and follow. I trust Him to provide. This kind of lifestyle has brought numerous trials along the way. Sit back and let me remind you of a story of how God overcame our first trial in needing a house.
In 1998 I had served the Burke Baptist Church as pastor for five years. I began sensing God calling me to a full time traveling ministry. Major trial. To step out on faith meant I would have no income and we would have no place to live since we lived in the church parsonage.
I prayed and sought the counsel of my pastor Charles Roberts and friends. I became convinced God was calling me to step out on faith to become an itinerant preacher. Brenda and I thought we would have to find a place to rent. Just before I resigned Brother Charles came up with another option. My home church supported a mission church at the time with a parsonage. We were given the opportunity to live in that parsonage rent-free for the first year. One trial and one act of God stepping in to provide.
Trial two. Up to that time every place we had ever lived had a refrigerator provided in the house. This parsonage did not. Brenda and I began to pray. One of the ministries the Lord involved me was teaching college students a weekly Bible study. God used those college students to take up an offering and to buy us a refrigerator. We still use that miracle gift to this day. Two trials and two interventions by the Lord.
The third trial included my not having any income because nobody called me to preach in the beginning. I had no income coming in until a business man made a gift to us for $6,000 with the stipulation I was to be paid a monthly salary of $1,000 a month for six months to help us get started. Soon the Lord began opening doors for me to go preach. Once again we faced a trial and once again the Lord worked wonders.
In the back of our minds we knew we were going to have to find another place to live. About six months into our living in the mission church parsonage God spoke to me through a scripture. [Luke 18:28-30] “Peter said, ‘Behold we have left our own homes and followed You.” And He said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come eternal life.’”
The more I meditated on that passage the more convinced I became God wanted to bless us with a house. We began to pray and trust the Lord. We felt like since we had given up our home to follow the Lord in a step of faith He would reward that faith. [Heb 11:6] Not long after that God gave us the most crucial verse about trusting Him for a house. [Ps 37:4] “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Brenda and I felt we had delighted in God by following Him to a new ministry. We began to pray specifically for what we were trusting God for in a house. Four bedrooms and two baths. We asked the Lord for an open living room large enough to entertain with an open kitchen looking into the living room so Brenda could still interact with the family while preparing meals. We prayed diligently for not only God to lead us to the right house but make a way for us to buy that house.
All the time we were praying time was running out on the mission house parsonage. We knew at some point we were going to have to put feet to our prayers. Here were the trials. We did not have any down payment money. By faith we went to a realtor and began to process. When he asked how much we could afford I shot a number back to him. He had his back to us while he typed and could not see the shocked look on Brenda’s face. I whispered to her that this guy did not know we didn’t have any money.
We began looking at houses. For weeks we looked and looked. I grew tired of it and all the while we still did not have money for a down payment. We poured our hearts out to God in prayer. Hour upon hour we cried out to God to come to our aid. One day the realtor showed us a house that blew us away. I am not kidding when I tell you he opened the door and I stepped over the threshold and told Brenda, “This is it.” We came up with the earnest money to put a contract on the house. Mind you we still did not have money to put down on the house. Can a person really buy a house on faith? Many people warned us that we could not. I did not listen to the naysayers but kept seeking the Lord and trusting in the promises He had given me.
We signed a contract on the house in total faith. Many doubted and felt I was presumptuous. I kept my mind on the scripture and cried out to God. The trial loomed over us. That is when God stepped in and saved the day again. Someone dropped off a thousand dollars at my office. Another man invited me to his office and slid a check for another thousand dollars. Someone gave us $500 after church one Sunday morning as we were getting into our car. Another man felt God prompting him to give but he worked out of town all week. He would leave on Monday and return home on Friday. On Friday God prompted him again and he gave us a gift. When all was said and done, we enough to put down and get us into that house. Trial. Faith. Miracle.
My most favorite memory of that miracle included two different nights. Brenda and I drove out to the house late one night after a date and pulled into the driveway and prayed. By faith we believed God ordained us to live in that house. Not long after that night one of the college girls I taught drove out there and sketched the house while writing Ps 37:4 underneath the house. She gave us that sketch which God used to bolster our faith. We kept that picture on our mantle and told the miracle story of that house to all of our guests and eventually to the people we sold the house to.
I have been thinking of that story a lot lately. After all these years Brenda and I are in the same boat again. God has once again called us to follow Him. We are once again leaving our home. In similar fashion God provided a house for us in Seminole when we had nothing. FBC and a precious family combined to sacrificially and generously give us down payment money. We came here in faith and asked God to overcome the trial of our lack of finances to put us into a home. I cannot put into words how much we have enjoyed that house. 2112 NW Ave B has been our second miracle house. Once again we are called to walk away from this miracle and trust Him for the next one.
Once again we are must give up our home with no place to live in Paradise. Yesterday God put it in my heart that if He can provide two miracles homes for us in the past He can and will do it again. So my prayers have changed. I am no longer looking for a place to rent permanently but believe God has a home appointed for us to buy. Once again we have no money to put down. Once again all we have is a call of God to follow and faith in His promise and ability to provide.
Yes there are trials but we trust God in the trials. It is these trials that God uses to demonstrate His power. Without the trials there would be no need for miracles or His divine intervention. All that we are up against serves as the backdrop for what will prove to be God outstretching His arm and moving His mighty hand on our behalf and for the glory of His name.
God is using these trials and steps of faith to strengthen our faith and to glorify His name. He is also using them to strengthen the faith of all you who pray with us and are watching on the edge of your seats to see how all of this turns out. The Edwards have been here before and will no doubt be here again. I am honestly excited as I write this to see what God does. I am convinced God will sell our house. I am equally convinced God will bless us with our third miracle house for the glory of His name.
The trials keep coming and we keep choosing to trust Him in the midst. Now, let me trust with you concerning your situation. Email me your trials at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will trust with you in your trials as you have trusted with us over the years.