I don't know where to begin except to say thank you from the bottom of heart, for the gift of money, for the surprise visitation, and for the timing which God used to confirm that "the storm had finally passed me by."
Last night as I shared this with my wife and I took some time to reflect on your showing up in my life, I felt compelled to post something on FB as a testimony to each of you involved in this magnificent gift and to point to God's faithfulness. I don't know how you knew, what you knew, and I know that's the way you want it to be. But I do know from seeing your website and experiencing 12 Average Joes in action, that you do want God to be given the honor and glory. So, I tried my best to do that in my post. I'm including it here in case all or most of you are not connected to me in some way on social media:
This is a testimony to God being alive, actively at work, working through His Word, His Spirit, His special revelations, and through His people. Today I experienced the visitation of 2 "angels" who blessed me in a way that was jaw dropping to me and to the 2 friends who were with me at the time. If one or both of you are my FB friends, I post this in honor of your faithfulness, your generosity, your encouragement, and your obedience. I don't believe I have ever met you before, but you blessed this man beyond words. I don't post this in vagueness or with coyness as some do on FB to make everybody else wonder what's going on. I post this as a testimony to God's faithfulness, God's active presence in this world and our lives, God's desire to fulfill every promise He has given us. So, to you who wonder (as I do from time to time) if God is still there, I can tell you from the most unusual experience today that He is. Last evening from 7PM to 11:30 PM "the storm passed". Today, it was confirmed in a very tangible way. Some of my friends will understand that more than others. A gospel songwriter by the name of Mosie Lister captured that awesome reality in one of his songs "'Til The Storm Passes By". It may be dated for some in its musical approach, but this man knew the reality of how God worked and he expressed it so powerfully. I now feel even more honored to have met him more than once, because the depth of his gospel songs obviously came from a heart that knew and understood. I don't know what the hours and days ahead hold, but today God proved to me that He is there, He is everywhere....and there are some brothers out there to whom I say the most heartfelt "thank you" and with a big dose of Glory to God! My nearly 6-year trial has evidently passed. He revealed it through His voice speaking to me clearly as a big thunderstorm moved from the western sky to the eastern sky last evening, the whole time speaking audibly to me of what was happening. He knew I needed it confirmed today, that this wasn't just a conjured up thought but that it was real. As I have posted throughout this period of some of the thoughts and realities that have come to me during a time of intense challenges, I will repeat one again which is "He is the Lord my God; in Him I will put my trust." If I never post again on FB, I want this one to be remembered as pointing to Him; He who is faithful. Life is tough, life is often brutal, and our only hope can be in trusting Him no matter what. I have made that commitment and so whatever the outcome, I am at peace. But His love knows no end, and so He continues to give us what we often don't expect because then a need that is real can be met while we increasingly become the strength that only a broken vessel can contain. In human terms it's not pretty, but in His grace and mercy it becomes the most beautiful portrait reflecting the face of a loving God.
If I may, I only want to add this specific, that the literal storm that passed through Franklin on Thursday night was the heavenly voice that spoke to me quietly and confidently that "just as you first saw lightening and heard thunder far in the western sky around 7 PM, then watched it slowly across the sky for a couple of hours, and then as I sat with my wife with candles on and classical music in the background around 11:15, we heard the thunder now far in the eastern sky and it was clearly that God was saying that just as this storm had passed over, it was now passing by in our lives." Then I prayed long later that night that I was anticipating to see what might happen in the coming days and weeks. I had encouraging meetings earlier that day (long time coming!) and then you guys show up at Meridee's. Yes, God used you to confirm a strong message He was giving to me.
I've known Christ most of my life, but I have seen greater movement in my understanding of who God really is over the past 6 years, ALL through a time of intense pain at many levels. I see His presence in nature and in all of His creation, so it's no wonder that a storm was used to speak to me again. And as in real life, like the 500-year flood in Nashville several years ago, when the storm passes by we know we are safe and in the clear. And in the aftermath, there is clean-up to do in order for things to be "RESTORED"! Some people would say "restored to its original condition" but I would say, "No, brand new again. The old house was taken away by the tornado and all that does remain is a strong a firm foundation!" I believe that I have now been ushered into the clean-up phase and with each step, new life, freshness, new strength, new vision, and restoration will take place in my life, in my family, and in the people and things around me that are a part of the world God has called me to live in and serve. I don't know what that looks like or how that would happen, but I will look to Him daily to guide each step as I have been now for some time, only now with a little more spryness in my step after nearly 6 years of climbing and crawling. I do know this: I will do it with a renewed strength made possible by my even greater trust in Him, pronounced sharply and accented by the visitation and most generous gift from 12 Average Joes. And as much as the money is such a huge help, I have to say that it is "the act itself" which is so unbelievably powerful because it speaks to every aspect and area, not just one!
Simply put, you guys are awesome!!! May rich blessings and abundance beyond all that can be imagined be yours because of your faithfulness.