Pure Joy!

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”  – James 1:2

“God ordains suffering because it displays to the world the supremacy of his worth above all treasures.”  – John Piper

When Linda and I got married, I had one more year left to serve in the US Army in Berlin, Germany. At the time there were at least three good reasons for us to stay in the military. First, the military was providing a steady income, while the US economy was in recession. Second, my job classification was in high demand and the Army offered me a $10,000 bonus to re-enlist. (This was a lot of money in 1975!) And finally, after seven months of marriage, we had decided to start a family and Linda was now pregnant. To stay in the military meant full health coverage for Linda and the baby. To leave the military would leave us without health insurance.

This may seem like a pretty straightforward decision—except for one thing. Linda and I had sensed God’s clear leading in our lives to serve him as missionaries on a foreign field. In order to accomplish this, I needed to leave the military and go to Bible college. After praying, seeking counsel and being unified in the decision as a couple, we embarked on what we viewed as an adventure with God. We left the military and headed for Bible college.

God had begun to pave the way for us even before we set out, although we didn’t know it at the time. For when we landed in Chicago, Linda’s grandmother surprised us with $1,000 that bought us our first car and the gas to get us to Spokane, Washington, where we applied to a Bible college.

In Spokane, we found a modest apartment and had just enough money for the deposit and first month’s rent, but not enough money for phone service. A telephone booth a block away served for out-going calls. I had built our furniture that summer using tailings from a local lumber mill and masonite that I had picked up on clearance for ten cents a sheet. We had no TV, but a radio provided some entertainment.
As soon as we landed in Spokane, I began diligently searching for a job. The job market was extremely tight and I was turned down time and time again. Ironically, I was eligible for VA benefits for college, but the Bible college was so new it was not yet authorized by the VA to grant benefits! Yet we were sure God had led us to this school.

Right before the semester began, I explained our job and financial situation to the dean of the college. He told me that if we were willing to trust God for the funds, then so would they. The day after we registered for school, the Lord gave me a part-time, seasonal job in a feed warehouse. This job paid just enough to cover the rent on our apartment.

Meanwhile, we found a doctor and Linda went for her first checkup. We learned there that she had pre-eclampsia, a dangerous condition threatening both hers and the baby’s life if not kept in check. The doctor prescribed strict bed-rest for the last two months of her pregnancy. So I took on responsibilities as nurse, chief cook and bottle-washer as well.

Over the next two months, Linda and I had the privilege of experiencing first-hand the truths of God’s promises to take care of us. Funds were so tight that I’d walk over to the phone booth to make a needed call, praying as I went that God would provide a dime for the call. God always provided. He would provide a dime on the sidewalk, in the parking lot, on the floor of the phone booth, or in the coin return.
Another time, a particularly large bill arrived from the doctor. I remember it was almost as much as our monthly rent. We had no money to pay it, but we prayed asking God to meet our need. A day or two later we received an anonymous cashier’s check for the exact amount of that bill! This provision of God was particularly amazing considering the fact that we knew no one in Spokane and had not yet been able to find a church home due to Linda’s illness. We were constantly overwhelmed with the goodness and provision of God!

One day, Linda needed to fill a prescription, but again, we had no money. We prayed together that God would provide for the prescription and then I drove to the grocery store convinced that God would somehow provide. As I pulled into a parking space and opened the door to get out, I looked down at a large pile of change in the parking lot. This change was just enough to cover the cost of Linda’s prescription!

During these two months, people kept dropping by our apartment leaving us fresh vegetables from their gardens. I had shot a black bear in early September, which provided surprisingly tasty meat for us. God just kept on meeting our needs, often in very creative ways.

Two weeks into the fall semester at Bible college, the dean approached me and asked me to consider serving as the interim speaker at a small nearby church. Scared but willing, I agreed to speak for them over the next few months. But a couple of weeks later the church invited me to be their pastor and insisted that I continue attending school full-time. I accepted the job.

The church offered the us a parsonage to live in. The house was nearly 100 years old and had sat vacant for seven years. It was in pretty bad shape, but we eagerly agreed to fix it up and the church providing the materials.

My new job at the church more than doubled our income and provided a home. At the end of October, our baby was born healthy and strong. Also around this time, the Veteran’s Administration authorized the Bible school to process VA benefits for eligible students. This occurred three years ahead of normal VA protocol! Because of my military service, my schooling was now paid for in full.
In fact, God so graciously provided that we were able to pay off our entire doctor and hospital bill for our baby by the end of January, just three months after our son was born! Isn’t God good, gracious and loving!!! “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20 NLT

©2009 Rob Fischer