Many of you have probably already heard the story about how God miraculously provided finances for my mission trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. If you haven't, to make a long story short, I didn't have any money for the mission trip which I believed God was calling me to. However, through multiple anonymous donors and job offers, I was able to make the last payment for the trip a mere six hours before leaving to the airport. God provided every penny in a miraculous way. You can read more about it here: www.valnparrish.com/journalentry/stepping-out-of-the-boat.
This story I am about to tell is all about the aftermath of that trip.
Serving the families in Oaxaca was incredible. Being able to see that those people were happy and loving regardless of the fact they were living in such poor conditions was incredibly humbling. I am grateful for the opportunity to have gone.
Even though I was able to afford the trip, my financial state was tight. After getting back, I was still recovering from not having a job for those few previous months. My savings was very low and I had missed almost 10 days of work due to being in Oaxaca. I knew my next paycheck was going to be small. Though, I prayed, "God called me to Oaxaca, therefore, He will not let me fall. I was obedient to His calling and I know He's got me." I believed that. He would take care of me and I knew He would provide financial opportunities for me like He had before.
Those thoughts were a little easier said than done because my next paycheck was not only small, it was INCREDIBLY small. I didn't have enough money to pay my bills. I didn't have enough money for gas. I didn't have enough money for school. One time I had to skip class because I couldn't afford to buy a $3 parking pass for the day. Having the parking meter decline my card because I didn't have $3 in my bank account was incredibly disheartening. Instead, I went to the thrift store I worked at to sell clothes so I could afford to go to class for the rest of the week. I ended up having to sell most of my closet so I could afford gas to get me to work and back. That was what hurt the most.
Fashion was a big deal for me back then. Not because I liked material things, but because it was an art form and I enjoyed the creativity it allowed me to express. Because I was selling my clothes left and right, I ended up with about three outfits left in my closet to rotate through. I had sold almost every piece of clothing I owned. You may not think that to be a big deal, but fashion was important to me. If you're a musician, imagine having to sell your instruments for money. If you're a chef, imagine having to sell your appliances for money. If you're a snowboarder, imagine having to sell your gear for money. That's what it was like. I was so devastated. I didn't quite understand why this was happening to me when I was obedient to God. It wasn't that I believed I had earned His blessings because I did what He asked. It was that I was confused as to why God would ask me to do something and leave me struggling afterwards. Though, because I didn't want to doubt God, I kept reminding myself of how He had never forsaken me before and how this situation would be no different.
I was talking with a friend before church about my circumstances and how much I was hurting because of it. She held me as I broke down crying. I didn't have many clothes left to sell, my paychecks were still not enough, and bills were due soon. I didn't know what else to do. My car was almost out of gas and it wasn't going to last me through to my next paycheck. So I told her I was probably going to have to sell the last few items of clothing I had, which were my absolute favorite pieces I was trying to avoid selling at all cost. But, there I was. I needed the money and that was my last option. I needed gas more than I needed the clothes. After church, she and her husband pulled me aside. They handed me money to be able to fill my gas tank up so I didn't have to sell the rest of my closet and so I could make it to my next paycheck. I almost broke down crying again right then and there. It was such a blessing from God to receive that gift. Paying for a tank of gas now is not an issue for me, but back then when I had less than $10 in my bank account on a regular basis, it was HUGE! I hadn't seen my tank that full in several months.
Slowly as time went by, my savings and paychecks got back to normal. It was tight, but I was able to pay bills on time. I started looking for a better paying job that was more along the lines of what I wanted to do career wise. There was a job posting for a videographer position at the university I was attending. So I applied. They ended up contacting me wanting to schedule an interview. I went, interviewed, and prayed to God the doors would open. This was a job I really wanted and knew it would open many more doors in the future. A couple days later I received an email saying I got the job! I cannot express the emotions I felt at that moment. God blessed me, plain and simple.
I knew God would not hang me to dry. I knew He had a plan for me. I knew God's blessing was around the corner. Even though I had to work hard and make sacrifices, God got me there. This new job was more than I could have ever dreamed of. Instead of having a 30 minute commute to work, I now had a 15 minute commute. I was going to be working at the same place I was going to school. It was a $5 raise. It was along the career path I was going to school for. I was going to have a state university on my resume. I was going to be able to do what I loved and get paid for it. The list was never ending. God's faithfulness was overwhelming.
If I have learned one thing in this life, it's that God will always provide. He will never forsake. There is not one moment in time I can say where God failed me. Not one. Because I have had so many encounters with financial issues, it has allowed my faith in God to grow substantially. Right now, as a matter of fact, I am facing a financial crisis. I am currently working a job that is contracted and that contract is scheduled to end soon. Even though I have no idea what I am going to do, even though I have no job lined up for after this, I am not worried. I am excited. I am excited because I am about to witness another miracle of God. It says in Romans 5:3-4, "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation." I have hope in what's about to come because I know God is on my side. There is not an ounce of doubt in me that God will open a door because it says in Psalm 33:18, "But the Lord watches over those who fear Him, those who rely on His unfailing love," and in Isaiah 41:13, "For I hold you by your right hand-- I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, 'Don't be afraid. I am here to help you.'" There are so many Bible verses I could list that show God's never-ending faithfulness. So I look forward with confident hope knowing God has a plan for me. I'm not sure what it is, but it's coming.
Listen to "No Doubting You" by River Valley Worship.