I started ACTS school unexpectedly in July. I had to raise about $8500 for the rest of my tuition and the outreach portion of my internship. I was full of faith, at first, as I saw the Lord move in a mighty way and release $1700 overnight just for me to get here and pay my down payment. At first I wasn’t too worried about raising the rest of my funds, but as time crept closer and closer the pressure intensified.
I received about $1100 of support at first and almost immediately I felt the Lord press upon my heart to give it away. I wrestled with it for days. I sought Him hard concerning the issue. My flesh obviously doesn’t think, “Hey let me give away all this money.” I wrestled day and night for about 3 days with the Lord asking Him to confirm it over and over if this was Him. I felt the sovereignty and the fear of the Lord over me about it, so finally, before I could have another moment to think myself out of it…I DID IT! I gave it all away. Every penny. A few hours later I was praying and the Lord said to me, “Even if you get to the end of this and I don’t let you go to the Middle East, you have to stand with an unoffended heart towards Me.” That statement alone offended me, but I began to mediate on it. I won’t say that I wasn’t slightly freaking out as my tuition payment was due the next day, but deep down I had this deep peace. Later that night a bunch of the ACTS students gathered and prayed for about 5 hours petitioning heaven for a breakthrough in finances. There was so much grace to pray those 5 hrs. At the end, I was overwhelmed with peace. I slept so good that night hardly any worry or anxiety. The next morning my alarm went off and, like always, I checked my email before getting a shower and lo and behold I received an email from the business office telling me that someone had paid the second portion of my tuition. WHAT?!? With deep gratitude in my heart, I laughed and thanked the Lord. The Lord showed me through this first segment of this journey of finances that I was walking in an orphan spirit and not fully trusting that the Kingdom’s economy could support all my brothers and sisters AND ME. The Lord was releasing the truth that His Kingdom’s economy can supply more than enough for everyone.
My faith was ignited and I saw the Lord begin to move upon hearts and people walk in great obedience and giving hearts to sow into the dream of the Father’s heart. But as I am human, soon that faith wore thin and as our deadline was approaching and I was still a little ways from having all of my money for the outreach portion and daily running out of my own resources and contacts, worry and fear crept in yet again. I was 2 days away from the deadline and I woke up at about 4am and felt the Lord tell me, “Get ready, go to the prayer room, I want to talk to you.” So I got up and got ready and went to the prayer room. I walked in and I no more set my stuff down before Jaye Thomas was singing a prophetic song, I am convinced, was solely for me. He was singing, “Don’t lose hope. Hold on! It’s not about your strength. It’s not about your zeal. It’s not about your ability to make anything happen. It’s about Me. I love declaring My name. I love being faithful. I love being your strength. I love being all you have to depend on.” I began to weep as music sometimes just cuts us to the core and really brings us to the end of ourselves. The Lord then said to me, “Do you remember what I said to you several weeks ago?” I begin to think, “…ummm no…” the Lord said, “I told you, even if you get to the end of this and I don’t let you go to the Middle East you have to stand with an unoffended heart towards Me.” Those words cut like a knife. The Lord then said, ” I care more about your heart than your ministry. If you make me choose between your heart and your ministry I will always choose your heart.”
Later that morning the Lord spoke to me and said, “To whom much is given much is required.” I said back to the Lord, ” I never asked for much. You can take it all back.” The Lord said, “Go and read the parable. So I did. Jesus is telling a parable about a rich man who makes his servant ruler over the household while he is gone. If the master returns to find that the servant is faithfully serving, the master will bless him. “But if that servant says IN HIS HEART, ‘My master is delaying in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unfaithful (Luke 12:42-48).” The Lord highlighted a couple things specifically to me. “The servant says IN HIS HEART, ‘My master is delaying in coming…” With this issue of finances and waiting for breakthrough I was saying in my heart, “My master is delaying in coming. Jesus where are you? Why aren’t you tending to my needs? Why are you making me wait? Sure you will shame me.” As the Lord purposefully allowed the deadline to approach and a small portion of the funds to still be unpaid, it was for the purpose to apply pressure to my heart that the real issues might surface. As the servant in Luke 12 becomes impatient in waiting for the master to return he begins to deal wrongly with those around him. As the Lord pressed upon my heart the realities of my heart surfaced and I began to shed bitterness to those all around me. It wasn’t that I was always verbal about it, but you could feel it protruding from my being.
The next day I woke up early again and met with a couple of my friends in the prayer room and we began to pray about finances and our prayers turned to praying against offense in our hearts. Suddenly it was as if the Lord had removed our hearts from our chest to allow us to analyze them more thoroughly. We began to weep at the reality that lie before us. He truly owes us nothing. We were deserving of death (Rom.6:23). I have to stand with an unoffended heart. He cares more about my heart. The Lord said, “I care more about the condition of your heart than you going to the nations. At the end of the day, I don’t want your heart to be sick. I want it unoffended and overflowing with a good theme (Ps 45).” The Lord then began to speak to me how, in the process, grace must be poured upon my lips. He said to me, “Stephanie, you failed the test.” I was so grieved and just when I thought that I might collapse I saw the Lord pull me to Himself and say, “A father corrects those he delights in (Prov. 3:12 and Heb. 12:6). ” When He applies pressure to those places in our hearts, grace MUST BE poured upon our lips. Such a hard reality to face, but at the same time so good. The Lord said to me, “I’m not looking at your failures but accounting your successes. You will be radiant. You will come out leaning.”
I was made to inherit promises, but we do not inherit those promises instantly. If He allowed us to obtain them instantly they would ultimately destroy us because He has not yet produced in us a character which can sustain those promises. This is why He allows the testings and the trials, not because He likes to watch us suffer, but because He really wants the best for us. At the end of it all He wants us to be able to say, “I inherited the promises of God and they didn’t destroy me and all along the way I made Jesus beautiful.” I am coming to the reality that the greater the promise the greater the intensity of things you will have to walk through to produce a heart to maintain them. Fathers realize their inheritances are bound up in their sons and as they release their sons they receive their inheritance. The role of the father is to fight for the inheritance of the son, but the son in return must fight for the honor of the father. He fights for my inheritance to come forth and in return I honor Him. He prizes the heart! We hate the fire and we hate the shaking, but we must realize that there is a much greater work going on and find a way to rejoice in our sufferings.