That brings me (Neil) to the first period of darkness for my family. When I was a pastor, our church became involved in an exciting building program. God had clearly guided us to a new property, and enabled us to build new facilities. Within months after those buildings were completed, I was nearing the completion of my doctoral studies, and facing the major task of writing a dissertation. I also knew that my seminary education was not quite complete.
Sensing God’s release, I resigned from the pastorate and began one of the most difficult years of my education. In one year I completed 43 semester units (17 of those units were Greek and Hebrew), took my comprehensive exams, completed my research, and wrote my dissertation. During that year I also taught part-time at Talbot School of Theology. We started that year with the assurance that $20,000 would be made available to us as an interest-free loan. I was confident that everything would work out, and that upon completing my education, God would have a place for us in His kingdom plans. For the next six months all our life’s plans were going well, and then God turned out the light.
We were told that the second half of the $20,000 loan would not be coming to us. Having no other source of income, our cupboards became bare. I had no job, and at that time, my educational goals were only half completed. I had always endeavored to faithfully care for my family, but now I was on the brink of not being able to do so. I had been so certain of God’s calling six months earlier, but now my confidence was being shaken.
I looked into a couple of ministry opportunities, but they weren’t for me, and I knew I couldn’t accept them. The problem wasn’t an unwillingness to work; I would have sold hotdogs to provide for my family. Yet I knew I had to wait upon God’s will. The tension to create my own light during that time was overwhelming. It was as though God had dropped me into a funnel, and things became darker and darker as I descended. When I thought my circumstances couldn’t get much darker, I hit the narrow part of the funnel. At our darkest hour, God dropped us out of the bottom of that funnel, and everything became clear.
Nothing changed circumstantially, but everything changed internally. I woke up in the middle of one night with such a sense of joy and peace that I knew the trial was over. I had a conscious awareness of God in a remarkable way. There were no audible voices or visions, only God in His quite and gentle way renewing my mind. The thoughts He brought to my mind went something like this:
“Neil, do you walk by faith, or do you walk by sight? Can you walk by faith now? You believed Me last summer; do you believe Me now? Neil, do you love Me, or do you love My blessings? Do you worship Me for who I am, or do you worship Me for the blessings I bring? Even if I suspend my conscious presence in your life, will you still believe in Me?”
I knew I could. In my spirit I responded, “Lord, you know I love You, and I walk by faith, not by sight. Lord, I worship You because of who You are, and I know that You will never leave me nor forsake me. Forgive me, Lord, that I ever doubted Your place in my life or questioned Your ability to provide all our needs.”
Such precious moments can’t be planned or predicted. They’re never repeatable. What we have previously learned from the Bible becomes incarnate during such times. Our worship is purified, and our love is clarified. Faith moves from a textbook definition to a living reality. Trust is deepened when God puts us in a position where we have no other choice but to trust. We will either trust Him or compromise our faith. The Bible gives us the infallible rules of faith and gives us knowledge about the One in whom we should place our faith-but we still have to learn to live by faith in the arena of life. That’s especially true when our circumstances are not working favorably for us. `
On the very next day, the dean at Talbot School of Theology called to ask if I had taken another job position elsewhere. I had not, and that Friday afternoon he offered me the faculty position I had formerly held for over ten years. That same evening, a man from my previous ministry visited us. I half-jokingly asked him if he’d like to buy our house and he said, “Maybe I would.” The next Tuesday, he and his parents made an offer on our house, which we accepted. Our financial crisis was over with, and with my faculty position secured, we knew the destination of our next move.
God can change in a moment what circumstances can never change. That’s one reason my wife and I have committed ourselves to never making a major decision when we are down. That commitment alone has kept me from resigning from my ministry after facing difficult board meetings or preaching messages that bombed.
Again, we should never doubt in darkness what God has clearly shown us in the light. We are to keep on walking in the light of God’s previous revelation. If what He showed me was true six months ago, it’s still true today. If we are serious about our walk with God, He will test us to determine if we love Him or His blessings. He may purposely cloud our future so we will learn to walk by faith instead of by sight or feelings.
Taken from: The Common Made Holy by Neil T. Anderson & Robert L. Saucy. Copyright © 1998 by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR, p. 379-381. Used by Permission