Today's post is written by Lynette Carpenter; Lynette Carpenter and her husband Tim are part of the leadership team at Firm Foundation Ministries in Centreville Michigan, a church we've been privileged to work with for the last fifteen years.
Stepping into a promise is sometimes easier said than done.
In 2016, my husband, Tim, and I were one year away from turning forty, reaching our twentieth anniversary milestone and celebrating our oldest son’s graduation.
It was a great season of life.
We were raising our four children on our family farm while serving as youth leaders at our church. Life was comfortable. Good. Happy. No need to rock our proverbial boat.
No one knew it, but we had began discussing the idea of starting a new business. The idea was nerve wracking, scary and borderline dumb - at least in my opinion. But through a series of events, we kept coming back to the idea of building four poultry barns.
One Sunday morning during worship, a visiting pastor and friend, David Campbell, a man who we knew from experience hears from the Lord, came to us and said, “I don’t have much, but I feel as though you need to know that whatever you are looking at investing in - you need to move forward with it.”
Tim and I looked at each other in surprise. It was a moment that we will never forget and we chewed on those words many times over in the following days.
The business we were considering required a total commitment! A complete life change! Responsibility that made my blood run cold and endless worries fill my head at night.
Peace seems to come easy for Tim. He’s steady like that. I, however, fought the idea — and the word we’d been given.
We continued to pray but with clearer direction and a greater measure of peace.
Two weeks from the day that David spoke to us, we stood in worship once again when one of our elders came over to us. Chills came over me as Doug began to speak, “I don’t have much to say, but whatever you’re looking at investing in - you need to move forward with it.” He went on to declare promises of God’s blessing and increase over our lives.
This time Tim and I burst out laughing, completely shocked, but those promises would become the altar we would return to time and time again through the coming weeks, months and even now, three years later.
The process began and Tim and I soon found ourselves in a whole new world of decisions, complications and stress. Most days were good, but the bad ones were fantastically horrid - enough to bring me to my knees time and time… and time again.
Our constant prayer was that God would use these barns to bring Himself glory and to advance the Kingdom.
In my moments of doubt, I looked at the promise in our hands and felt dismay at what they held - barns? Really? Who wants to tend chickens every day of their life?
One of the hardest days came when our final construction bill arrived. Though we had been vigilant in watching the budget, somewhere along the way expenses ballooned overnight leaving us with a bill from our contractor for nearly $100,000 more than the original estimate showed.
Our contractor told us that we didn’t need to pay it all because he had went over the estimate, but out of honor and integrity, we felt an obligation to pay it in full.
That was a quiet night at the Carpenter residence.
Fear and doubt crawled inside my brain and once again the questions came - why this? Why us? Why barns?
The discouragement of the desert place I was in threatened to consume me, but each time Tim would lead me back, once again, to the promise.
We knew God was in this and He had a plan.
Many times I would picture Moses in the back side of the desert - caring for sheep. It had to seem lonely, smelly and meaningless. How could he, a man raised in royalty, end up here in this vast wilderness of insignificance? Still, God knew where Moses was and He met him there in that desolate place.
I found comfort in that thought.
Tim and I scraped together as much money as possible and began paying down the construction bill. I found a measure of peace with the situation and life went on.
This past year, a thought kept growing in my mind - why not ask God to pay off that bill?
Funny - that’s called wishful thinking, I told myself… and certainly not something that would ever happen. After all, the amount was huge — we wouldn’t be free from this debt for another four years at the very least.
But the thought persisted and so, almost on a whim, I did it.
I asked God to take care of that debt.
Prayer prayed, I put on my gloves and got to work — my request all but forgotten.
Three weeks later, Tim and I were discussing finances over lunch. The subject of the construction debt came up — how we longed to be able to pay it off and get it behind us. Some had suggested that we simply not pay the bill, since it was over the estimate, but we didn’t feel that was the right thing to do.
Tongue in cheek, I suggested, “Wouldn’t it be nice if our contractor just texted and said, ‘Stop sending me money. If you mail any more checks, I’m going to shred them?’” Tim laughed and I did too - knowing that was never going to happen.
“That would be nice,” Tim agreed, “but we are going to continue to pay down this debt until or unless God intervenes in a way that is undeniably Him. Only then will I have peace that we can stop paying the debt.”
I came away from that conversation with an added measure of peace - God was providing and all would be well. After all, He had called us to this, we knew He was with us and someday, somehow, He would be glorified.
I thought the story would end there, but it doesn’t.
Because sometimes in those desert places, in the times when you least expect it, you come across a burning bush. It’s in those moments, you can’t deny that the place where you are standing is holy ground.
Our holy ground moment came less than twenty four hours after our lunch time discussion. I was folding laundry when Tim called.
His voice sounded different. A tone I can’t say I’d ever heard before.
Something had happened.
Something was different.
“What’s wrong?” My voice held a twinge of fear.
“Our contractor just texted me,” he said. “You’re not going to believe this but… he said to stop sending money and that if we mail any more checks, he’s going to shred them.”
Our conversation was little more than shocked denial, laughter, awed silence and tears. This stuff doesn’t happen to people like us! Everyday people living out an everyday life. The enormity of what had just taken place was and is hard to wrap our heads around and we stand in awe still at the faithfulness of our Father.
Was God faithful? Yes. Will He continue to be faithful? Absolutely.
Our story will continue to unfold. While we still have days of wondering if God knew what He was doing when He led us into this business, we look forward to watching what God decides to do with a small farming family and a couple of chicken barns.
It isn’t a glamorous life, but with God’s hand on it, we’ve found that it’s something even better.
It’s something supernatural.
CONSIDER PARTNERING WITH DAVID & ELAINE CAMPBELL IN HELPING TO SUSTAIN THEIR ACTIVE MINISTRY.
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