By: Stephanie Brimage
I recently wrote and shared with Precious Testimonies: EXERCISING FAITH - DON’T STOP! Well, within two weeks of submitting that testimony, a response came from a Ms. Pamela. Her response so encouraged me that I felt absolutely compelled to share about a precious experience I had with God many years ago.
Once again I must reiterate, I am a single parent with two children. My children are all grown up, and I now have two energetic grandchildren as of 2012. This happened during the Christmas season many years ago.
I was working in a retail clothing store at the time; the commute to work was about 15 minutes. As I mentioned above it was during the Christmas season, and as a parent, you know how that goes. My kids were constantly saying to me, “Mama, I want this for Christmas, and Mama I want that for Christmas.” In all honesty, being paid $6.50 per hour -- what do you have to look forward to for buying presents for your children? Very little.
Just to express a few things from a single mother’s point of view: Being the head of the household is not easy, especially if you have a heart to seek, please and know the Almighty God! That’s me; that’s what I want. I want to be successful at loving the Almighty God in the way that He has chosen for me to love Him. That means that I cannot concoct manipulations to get what I want. That means that I cannot accept bribes. That means that I cannot just lay down this great salvation that God has given me and go the route of exchanging sex for money one or two times for the sake of avoiding disappointment.
I say this because as a single mother I was presented with all of this and more. As the head of the household, temptations to manipulate, lie, scheme as well as exchange sex for money were often offered to me. And some of you may also be familiar with situations and circumstances in the process of life that has had you entertaining and receiving offerings from a place that is not acceptable as holy to God’s standards.
I want to share with you such a time in my life - a time of desperation. A time where the pressures of single parenthood caused me to make a decision that brought my family a loss. And me … much embarrassment, shame and guilt.
I am going to go ahead and express this right now: BUT GOD … !!!! (You’ll understand WHY by the time you finish reading this testimony!)
As I stated earlier, my children had many plans for Christmas that well exceeded the financial status of my purse. Nevertheless, my heart longed to give my kids some of what they wanted. But I had not a clue as to how to go about that. This would be on my mind everyday, and one day I began to tell my woes of being incapable of providing my kids a Christmas to a complete stranger. He listened to me, and while I was talking to him, he devised a plan for me.
We were outside, not far from my job, and he directed me to look over towards the Waffle House, which was less than two minutes from I-10, so I looked. He said to me, “Do you see that big 18 wheeler parked over there?”
I answered, “Yes.”
He said, “I am a truck driver and that’s my truck. I am carrying a load that has all the things that your kids asked you to get them for Christmas. I have all kinds of electronic games and other toys on this truck and I can help you out. But first I need you to do a favor for me.”
I asked, “What do you need?”
He said, “I have an appointment later on today. I need for you to let me borrow your car. I will only be gone for about one hour and I will come right back and then you can go on the truck and your children will have their Christmas.”
Now this was in the afternoon and the man asked me if I could actually meet him at the Waffle House around 8 p.m. I agreed - this space of time would allow me to think.
So during this time I did think, but once again, all I could think about was giving my kids the Christmas that they had asked for. That thought alone dominated my thoughts. So of course, I showed up at the Waffle House that evening, ready to help this man.
When I showed up at the Waffle House, I was not wearing a jacket. I only had on a long sleeved shirt and it was quite cold outside. What the man said to me did strike me as odd. “Where is your jacket?” He asked.
“I left it at home. I am only going to be out a short time.”
And his response to me was, “You are going to need your jacket.”
The tone and the spirit in which this man spoke this to me was so filled with compassion that it struck a place inside me, but I did not dwell in this place for a long time. I needed to get back home to the kids.
We chit-chatted for a short period of time and I gave him the keys to my car, (which God had blessed me with by the way), and he was on his way.
So I sat there waiting. One hour passed. Then two hours passed. Then three hours.
By this time it was clearly evident to me that this man would not be returning with my car, so I sucked it up, called the police and reported the car stolen. After completing the report, I began to hitch-hike my way down the dark highway to make it back home. It was cold and it was dark. I felt so alone and so defeated -- defeated by my own despair. At this point I did not know how to even begin to converse with God, because I had been willing to go on this truck and take (STEAL) these things for my kid’s Christmas. I was so deeply convicted by my actions of willingness that I did not have a whole lot of time to be mad at the man. The light of the Almighty God was shining into my heart and exposing its contents, and the contents of my heart were not very Christ-like. I repented and asked God to forgive me and to lead me as to what way I was to go from this point. And you know what? My Father did forgive me, immediately, because He is faithful and just to His promise of forgiveness (See: 1 John 1:9). But then there was the task of forgiving myself.
A lot of thoughts ran through my mind as I took this walk in the dark, and ohhhh how my heart ached for the return of my car. What was I going to say to my children when they found out that we no longer had a car? How was I going to live this down in my own mind? I was ashamed and embarrassed. Here I am the head of the household and I have made this terrible decision and lost our only mode of transportation! Oh my, oh my, how was I going to face my earthly father. You see, my earthly father blessed me with the car.
I went to my heavenly Father and I asked him for a car about a year before this incident. I was 26 years old (very fresh in the faith) and I had two children and we had never had a car. I had never owned one in my life. So when I asked my heavenly Father for a car, He spoke to me. He said, “Do you have an earthly father? And I answered, “Yes Lord.” Then my heavenly Father responded to me and said, “Then go ask your earthly father for a car.”
You see, I love my earthly father, God rest his soul, but I had never asked my dad for anything like that. And for whatever reason, I was afraid to do it. But I wanted to obey the Lord. It took me some weeks to work up the courage, but I did it. It was not a problem to him at all. He directed me to the car lot of his choice, and told me to pick out whatever car I wanted. I chose a Nissan Sentra.
And now the Sentra was GONE!
All kinds of thoughts raced through my mind as I walked towards home and by the grace of God someone that knew me, saw me, and gave me a ride. When I got home it was late, and because I no longer had possession of my keys, I had to knock on the door. My oldest daughter opened the door. She realized I did not have my keys. So of course she asked me that dreaded question, “Mama, where is the car?”
I immediately lied, and said, “Oh, the car is in the shop baby.”
And she trustingly said, “Oh, OK,” and calmly went back to bed.
But me, I could not sleep. I was worried about what my children would think of me if they found out about my irresponsible decision. I felt so defeated and undone. But my heart ached for the return of my car.
The next morning I continued to lie to my baby girl; telling her that the car was in the shop. We said our group morning prayer and they headed off to school. We had been praying together every morning for over a year. And either before our prayer time as a group or after, I would have my one-on-one with God the Father. And every day - I mean every day - I would always pray, “Father let Your will be done, not mine.” I had come to realize long ago that my will, my knowledge and my understanding alone often lead me and my children to places of unnecessary suffering -- like the one I was currently facing.
I got to work and it was early. There were not many customers in the store at that time, so this allowed much time to think. And while I was thinking the Spirit of the living God gently spoke to me these words: “You have to go home and tell your children the truth.”
I heard Him plainly say this to me, but you see … I could not do that, because I was embarrassed and my pride at the time would not allow it. He did not say anything else to me, and that one day seemed like it took 20 years to pass.
I got off work and started the hitch-hike home. I arrived home and my children greeted me at the door. Both of them asked, “Mama, when is the car getting out of the shop?”
Once again I lied. “Oh - it’s getting out of the shop next week.” My heart was heavy because of the deception. But I did not know how to tell my children the truth of what I had done. My embarrassment and shame was just too big. I repented for the deception, but did not know how I could keep from digging myself in deeper. We spend the evening together and then it was off to bed.
The next morning we said our group prayer and out the door we went, facing another day. The children headed off to school and I began my hitchhike to work. I got to work and once again we were not that busy, so I spent most of the morning thinking.
As I was thinking - I kid you not - I literally felt someone POKE me in my shoulder with their index finger, and then I heard the Spirit of the living God gently speak to me these words: “If you want to get your car back, then you will have to go home and tell your children the truth.”
All of sudden it was quickened to me as to what God was saying to me, and I began to exclaim, “Oh – HE said if. HE SAID IF. “OHHHHHHH MY GOD, HE SAID IF!” That meant “YES!” to me. “YES - I COULD HAVE MY CAR BACK!” God had promised to bring my car back to me. All I had to do is follow His instructions!
Let me explain: When I was in my senior year of high school, I was introduced to computers. And my teacher decided that she wanted to expound on how a computer program was written. And we came upon the IF-THEN statement. The IF-THEN statement, in actuality, is a control factor. IF the conditions in part A of the statement are met, then the desired results in Part B will be automatic. So this is what was enlightened to me, “IF YOU GO HOME AND TELL YOUR CHILDREN THE TRUTH, THEN YOU CAN GET YOUR CAR BACK.” All I had to do was follow God’s instructions precisely and I my car would be returned to me. Halleluiah! Our God is GOOOOOOOOOD and His Mercy endures forever!
I began to rejoice with great joy and I know that my co-workers thought that I was crazy, but their thoughts of me were of little significance. The King had shown up to undo what I had done! I kept rejoicing and praising the Lord, because HE said “IF”, and to me “IF” meant “YES - you can have your car back!”
So I rejoiced! The truth of His Word began to rise up within me. WITH GOD all things are possible -- ALL THINGS! Even though I felt unworthy, and I was extremely disappointed in myself. Even though I had lied to my children and I had no idea how to recover from this decision … the God of Heaven remained faithful to me. And by HIS mercy, HE approached me and gave me direction and filled me with hope by His spoken Word! (Rhema - Meaning God speaking directly to my spirit).
I excitedly got off work, hitchhiked home and called the children to the decision making table (the kitchen table) and began to tell them the whole truth of the matter. I told them the car was stolen, how it got stolen and my reasoning for putting myself in that position.
They listened to me intently, and the glory of God manifested at that table! As I was sitting there telling my children the truth …The Spirit of the living God interrupted me while I was talking to them -- to speak to me. He said, “I want you and your children to come before me as one household and I want you to ask Me for that car back ONE time.” He inflexed His voice when He said these next words to me. He said, “Do not ask Me for that car again, but every morning from this time forth, I want all of you to lift your hands and thank Me for bringing it back.”
I immediately relayed this message to my children. And we prayed in expectation as we asked God the Father to bring the car back -- ONE TIME!
At that time, I had an easel and a board in my home, so I wrote the expected end on the board in big red letters -- THANK YOU FATHER FOR BRINGING THE CAR BACK!
We got up the next morning, prepared ourselves for the day and came together as a group just before we walked out the door. We prayed, then we purposely lifted our hands and together we thanked God for bringing the car back.
During the process I personally never doubted regarding the outcome of the matter, and neither did my precious children. I remained in faith and expectation that God would do it. I had a WORD from God to stand on -- An “IF-THEN” statement … and I refused to be moved!
I continued to hitchhike to work with joy in my heart, knowing that God the Father had me in His care.
I asked the Father a few times: “I know that You can see my car: Where is it?” And every time I asked Him this question, I could see that my car was sitting somewhere; it was not being driven; it was just sitting with a lot of other stuff around it.
My household remained in agreement with constant thanksgiving concerning this matter for about 21 days.
I must reiterate: WE never asked God for that car again: WE remained in agreement with thanksgiving!
Then one day I was on my way to the dumpster to take out the trash and I saw a policeman pull into the parking lot. While I was standing there watching him, the Spirit of the living God spoke to me. He said, “He is looking for you. He has come to tell you that they have found your car.”
I did not move. I just stood there and watched him. He departed his car and made it to the side walk. He then went towards my apartment building and began to climb the stairs. I am still watching … He goes to MY door … I immediately break out into a run as fast as I can … I get to the stairs and I run up the stairs quickly and ask, “Sir, are you looking for Stephanie Brimage?”
He says, “Yes I am. Are you Stephanie?
I excitedly say, “Yes!”
He says, “Well Maam, I have come to tell you that we have found your car.”
I was so elated … but I had to contain myself because I wanted to know where my car was, so I asked.
The officer said to me, “Maam, your car is in storage. Whoever stole your car did not go very far. They went to the next county and abandoned your car at the Waffle House within hours of you reporting it stolen. It sat at the Waffle House for five days and the Waffle House called and had the car towed.”
He gave me all of the information and I was on my way to get my car. PRAISE GOD! NOW YOU AND I BOTH KNOW THAT IN MOST CASES STOLEN CARS DON’T COME BACK! BUT - WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!!
This was MY mess and my Heavenly Father so graciously cleaned it up … while also cleaning ME up. He shinned His marvelous light into my heart to show me and convict me of deeds that were not acceptable to Him!
He left with me and my children a principle of thanksgiving -- that in all things, all things, all things … the good, the bad, the ugly, the embarrassing, the shameful, FACE IT, TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT IT AND THEN GIVE GOD THANKS FOR HIS WILL CONCERNING IT -- FOR THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD CONCERNING YOU! TO GOD BE THE GLORY FOR THINGS HE HAS DONE!
to end this by sharing some Holy Spirit inspired wise encouragement with you. We
most definitely live in times of trouble and uncertainty, but I encourage
you to learn to thank God in the midst of it all. Pray with your family as a
unit; grab hands; each grownup pray out loud.
Even if you think you do not know
the words of prayer -- remember this -- OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND HE WILL FILL IT!
Let your children see your belief in Jesus in action through prayer!
Let them know that you believe in
Jesus at home too -- so much so that you will invite Him into your home;
that you will invite Him to your decision making table; so much so that you
will invite Him to be the head
of your household at all times! He longs to be given that place
in your family -- in each of our individual lives. Afterall ... He
created each of us to glorify Him, because He's GOD along with the Father
and the Holy Spirit (and They are ONE). What better way to demonstrate to Him we
mean business with Him?!
He longs to be given that place in your family -- in each of our individual lives. Afterall ... He created each of us to glorify Him, because He's GOD along with the Father and the Holy Spirit (and They are ONE). What better way to demonstrate to Him we mean business with Him?!
This is not a cliché: “A FAMILY THAT PRAYS TOGETHER, STAYS TOGETHER.” This is major BONDING wisdom to keep your family intact! But it is up to you. Don’t JUST believe it! --DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My email: continuinginchrist@Gmail.com
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HE CLEANED UP MY MESS