Knowing the Lord’s will and being committed to it does not ensure an easy life. My grandfather told me that though he was certain he was called to preach, he had nowhere to do so for a long time. So he kept seeking the Father’s direction, and eventually God showed him he could hold his revival meetings in a tent as others had done. Of course, tent revivals and camp meetings had been around since the late 1700s because of American expansion into the frontier territories. There simply weren’t churches built in the new settlements, so preachers would gather people wherever they could to proclaim the Word of God. During Granddad’s time, revivals in tents had become especially popular among Pentecostal and Holiness preachers because they could move around and wouldn’t be tied down to one place. And so my grandfather got the idea that he could do the same.
Granddad’s only problem was that he had no money and therefore could not afford to purchase a tent, which sold for about three hundred dollars at the time. So George Washington Stanley did what any of us would do—he got a job. With little schooling and no occupational training, Granddad did the menial work that was available, which was cutting railroad ties for the local lines. He would chop down trees, trim them to size, and earn twenty cents for each eight-foot tie he created, which was only a few each day. It was a very rough business for very little pay.
In fact, there was a saying back then that hacking ties was “a hard way to serve the Lord.” It was certainly true—even for turn-of-the-century workers who were accustomed to difficult physical labor. Sadly, after several months of storing up every penny, Granddad only managed to save forty dollars—a far cry from the amount he needed to purchase the tent. Obviously, it would be a very long time before he could afford one. My grandfather told me that at that point he felt he’d never get around to preaching. Hacking ties was wearing him out and the three hundred dollars seemed further away than ever. Of course, in the 1920s that was an enormous amount of money.
But my grandfather didn’t give up and he had faith that the Lord would eventually provide what he needed in one way or another. Granddad prayed, “Father, You called me to preach and know how much money I need for a tent. This is the best I can do, but I know You will help me.” Of course, the Lord loves that kind of faith. While he was praying, Granddad had a vision of a little house on a corner, with rosebushes in front of it and a white picket fence around it. He recognized it as a place he had seen during a visit to a little town not very far away, but he could not recall how to get to it.
The next day, Granddad went into that town and walked up and down the streets, but couldn’t find the house. Again, he was moved to his knees in prayer. But after he arose, he looked up, saw the house in the distance, and knew that if he went there, God would provide for his needs. So Granddad went up to the house and knocked on the door, completely unsure about what he was supposed to say.
To his surprise, the lady who answered exclaimed, “Why Mr. Stanley! I’ve been hoping to talk to you. I have something for you.” She invited him in and went to retrieve a small brown-paper sack. She handed it to him and said, “God told me to give you this.” He thanked her, chatted with her for a while, and then left.
But when he opened the brown-paper bag, he found three hundred one-dollar bills—exactly what he needed to purchase the tent. He told me that’s when he learned to always trust God, wait for Him to work, and know for certain He will take full responsibility for all our needs when we obey Him.
Thankfully, I remembered what my grandfather said about the Lord’s provision when I was in my third year of college and got down to just ten cents in funds. All I had to my name was one dime. I can still recall looking at that shiny little coin in the palm of my hand and realizing how very small it was compared to all the needs I had.
But I thought about Granddad and I prayed, “God, You provided for my grandfather in such a powerful way. I’ve only got ten cents left and You know much my housing and classes cost. You’ve brought me this far and You know my heart is devoted to You. I’m going to trust You to help me.” I then went on my way, hopeful for God’s intervention.
That day, after my classes were done, I went by the post office. There in my box was a letter from Mrs. Johnson, a lady who was my neighbor in Danville. I used to mow her lawn and liked her well enough, but she had never written to me or tried to contact me before, so I was very curious to read her note. She wrote that for some reason she felt very convicted about sending me some money, so she was enclosing a check for twenty-five dollars and prayed it would bless me. Boy, did it ever!
Mrs. Johnson couldn’t possibly have known the wonderful reassurance the Father would give me through her gift. The Lord had provided for me powerfully, just as He had for my grandfather. And because of it, I gained even more confidence about His calling on my life.
This article is adapted from Charles F. Stanley’s Courageous Faith.