“Don’t open this until you get home.”
I’d heard those words once already just a few weeks before.
A friend from church invited me out for coffee. After a lovely evening catching up, we stood beside our cars outside to say goodbye. When she reached out to hug me, she handed me a sealed envelope with a card in it, telling me not to open it until I got home.
The envelope had my husband’s name on it, too, so he and I opened it together. We pulled out a sweet card that said, “Sometimes you need a friend to remind you how much God cares.” A hundred dollar bill stared back at us. A tear rolled down my husband’s cheek as we counted nine more hundred dollar bills underneath it.
A handwritten note on the inside read, “Please accept this as a gift not from me, but from God’s provision. He has blessed me, and I just keep getting this message from Him to share it with you.”
Mike had just lost his job two weeks earlier. At the point when panic started to tempt us, God met our need and gave us peace. Not just peace in the amount of provision that covered two weeks of income, but peace in sensing God’s obvious presence.
Four weeks later, Mike and I both started to battle discouragement over the job hunt. Time was passing, and every positive lead on a job just left him hanging.
I struggled to know how to pray. “God, I don’t want Mike to just work anywhere. I am boldly asking you to give him a job that is obviously from You, a job that comes with a story. Of course I’d like to ask You lead him to a job today, but at the same time, I don’t want him to get a job until the testing time in this trial is complete and Your will is accomplished.” I wanted us to come forth as gold through this refining experience.
Whenever I started to stress or panic about money, I heard God gently say, “Do you have enough for today?”
“So trust Me for tomorrow, for next week, and even for next month. Trust me for your whole summer.”
School would let out for the summer in one more day, and we tried to look on the positive side. We’d all be together. The boys, Mike, and me. No, we couldn’t plan a big vacation because we had to make the money we had stretch as far as it would go. Especially when you are living off of someone else’s sacrifice, it makes you think twice about spending that money wisely. Plus we couldn’t plan anything too far in advance due to the fact that Mike could get a job at any time. We had to learn to seize each moment and enjoy whatever God brought our way.
Nobody was in a hurry to get to bed that last night before school let out, so we all merrily went about our business rather than winding down and heading to our rooms.
“Don’t open this until you get home.” I suddenly remembered a card someone gave me a bit earlier, so I sat at the kitchen table to open it. I read the quote on the front by Alred A. Montapert, “Life is to be enjoyed, to laugh, to sing, to love . . .” It took me by surprise to see a check slip out the bottom of the card. What I saw written on the check, though, absolutely blew me away. I ran straight into the bedroom to find Mike.
“Are you ready to cry again?”
“Why? What happened?” Mike gave me a concerned look.
We both stared at each other, speechless, as we held a check in our hands with enough money to cover five more weeks of lost income. We read the rest of the card, which said, “Please accept and know it is His blessing and will. All we’d like to say is: Keep being picky!! Find the job He wants for you.”
Peace. Not just peace in having enough income, but peace in feeling God’s obvious presence. Peace in seeing how rich God is and how He longs to bless us, if we just seek Him in every circumstance.
It reminded me of various times when I asked God for something in private and later got a very specific answer to my request. Like when I asked God to show me if the child we were to adopt lived somewhere besides El Salvador, and He led me inside to an e-mail about fourteen Colombian orphans coming to the United States in search of families, precisely to our now adopted son. Or the time when I asked God to let me hear from a particular person again someday, and then they unexpectedly wrote me a letter.
I can’t forget the time I felt God prompt me to pray for a friend to change her career path to pursue ministry, and a week or two later, she called to tell me about doing just that.
I found through experience that peace isn’t something He gives. It’s who He is. Our peace comes when we realize His obvious presence in our circumstance. When we make a bold, specific petition and realize that He heard us. When we keep a request quiet between the two of us, and He gives us just what we asked for. When something runs through our head in private, and He guides us to a specific Scripture verse that perfectly addresses our thought. When we face a battle no one knows about, and He guides someone to say exactly what we need to hear. When we ask Him for provision, and someone gives a gift saying it’s from Him.
When we seek Him in everything, and we find Him all around us, all the time.
His presence is our perfect peace. Jehovah Shalom.
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