When things look bleak in the present, I do as the prophet Jeremiah did. I think back to God’s faithfulness to me in the past. (Lamentations 3:21-22) This story is my primary go-to place.
In part 1, I laid out the scenario. I had graduated from Bible College and needed a job but was rejected 43 times over 9 months. I had a wife and 2 kids and a vision to do ministry ahead of me, but God seemed to stand in my way. My wife suggested I apply to Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) for more training and that’s where the story picks up again.
There was a big hurdle to jump. No one from my college had ever been accepted as a student at DTS (a number had been rejected) But – 2 months after applying, I got a letter of admission. I would be on academic probation.
In May of 1982, Sharie and I happened to meet a couple that had just graduated from DTS. They told me of a printer in Dallas that hired students. I just happened to work as a printer for the last 4 years.
So, I made a 2-minute phone call to Mr. David Millet. I told him of my plans. He told me to come him tro see him when I arrived. He didn’t say yes, but neither did he say no.
Then I got a call from an old friend – out of the blue. He was attending DTS that summer and just happened to find my name on a list of several hundred incoming students.
Without knowing of our need, He invited us to stay with him and his family in Dallas until we got settled. That was a God send because we certainly didn’t have the money to make an additional trip to go apartment hunting.
So, though we had multiple green lights – we had little money – hardly enough to move, then to get an apartment and then pay tuition. Truck rental alone would be $1,200 plus fuel. There was nothing to do but wait upon the Lord.
Our home church was in the middle of a costly building program, and yet on July 7th they graciously chose to give us $1,000.
We found that we could rent a truck in Columbus, OH (3 hours away) for $900 which would maybe leave us enough money to move and possibly rent an apartment in Dallas. So, by faith we set a date to move.
Many kind Christian friends gave us gifts. The church purchased a fine suit for me. The women of the church had a shower for Sharie. The president of my Bible College gave me some needed textbooks.
Then Sharie’s brother promised us 2 used bedroom suites for our kids which they desperately needed. They were complete except for the box springs for one of the beds. We drove to Columbus to rent the truck and would pick up the furniture on the way back.
While we were on the road, my dad’s neighbor carried some box springs to the alley for the trash man. He saw my dad and told him he hated to throw it away because it was in great condition. He asked if dad knew anyone who might need them. Not knowing our need, he said, “Maybe.” We arrived, my dad told me about it – and I was stunned at the goodness of God.
The truck rental place required an additional $900 refundable deposit. I didn’t expect this and didn’t have the money – but I did have a credit card. They allowed me to put the deposit on my card.
Ironically, my credit limit had been $600 for several years but the ceiling was unexpectedly raised to $900 just the week before. The exact amount I needed.
To get the truck at the right price, we would need to return it to Columbus. A friend, Robbie Jones, volunteered to drive to Texas with us and then return it. The night Robbie arrived back in Columbus; another church friend happened to be passing through. He conveniently picked him up and carried him the 3 hours back to southern Ohio
We arrived at my friend’s house in Dallas on Aug.1st with 3 urgent objectives. Get a job, get an affordable apartment in a town which at that time had a 96% occupancy rate, and earn enough money to start seminary.
We were determined not to take out any school loans. And all this had to happen over the next 30 days. Not sure how we would do that with the $200 we had left.
The next day I visited the printer. I was hired in 2 minutes without filling out an application and I was promised more money than I had ever made in my life with flexible hours so I could pursue seminary.
In the preceding months we had applied by mail to several federally subsidized apartment complexes. That morning Sharie called each of them looking for a vacancy Every single last one said there was at least a one-year wait.
We were out of housing options, so I decided to go in person. I visited the first complex that Sharie had phoned, and the manager basically said, “You moved to Dallas with no apartment, and you expected to get one when you arrived? You’re are an idiot.”
I went to the second place, told them my story and they asked, “When do you want to move in?” – – And yet – they had told Sharie on the phone that there was at least a year’s wait. We were in our apartment in 2 weeks. 3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths AC with a swimming pool for $130.00 a month
Got a job and an apartment. Still needed tuition. It turned out that the print shop had a lot of extra work in August. So, both Sharie and I worked, and I had my first semester’s tuition in hand by the start of school. From that point on, God provided the tuition money in advance of each semester. I graduated on time with zero debt.
And that’s my story. Not a single word of exaggeration. It happened just as I have written. But please don’t get the idea that this is everyday life for us. It’s not. It was more of a special season in which we needed to see the faithfulness of God in the most awesome way
But that’s where my mind goes to when I am struggling with hope in the present. And it warms me and encourages me and gives me the strength I need to trudge on.
You probably need to find your own go-to place with God.
A PRAYER: Father help us all to remember and cherish those spectacular God moments in our lives.
This has been Jim Johnson with pickleheavenpress.com
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.