Michael worked for Martin Methodist College for three years when he began to feel God calling him out of higher education and into ministry. After much prayer, we agreed that it was, in fact, what God was leading us to do, so he resigned his position after booking many shows for the year. We had a good year then came the financial collapse, so he started work at a different school in Tennessee. Things were pretty smooth for the first year, but then it all started to change.
Rachel's Raft excerpt:
One evening, I was in the kitchen, warming up his dinner when I saw him pull into the driveway. He walked in, looking rather tired, walked over to me, gave me a hug, then turned and walked out of the room. When he came back in, he said,
“It’s kinda crazy up there right now,” as he rubbed his hand through his hair.
“Oh really, like what?”
“Well, their funding is falling short.”
“So, what does that mean?” I asked as I filled up a glass of water and turned to walk toward the dining room.
“Well, they can’t pay me tomorrow.”
“Can’t pay you? What do you mean they can’t pay you?”
“The President said they’ll pay me next week. It’s the strangest thing. They’re falling short on their funds, so they’re paying the employees next Friday.”
“Uh-oh. That doesn’t sound good.”
“No, it’s doesn’t, but it’s probably gonna be okay by next week.”
He went on to explain to me about the funds the school was receiving for the foreign students and how they’d be processed the following week, freeing up the paychecks for the staff. I understood the explanation, but I still had uneasiness in my spirit.
The next week, Michael came home from work.
“They didn’t pay me today.”
“What do you mean they didn’t pay you?”
“Yep. That’s right. They’re still not able to pay us. They said it’ll be Monday.”
“Monday? That’s four days from now.”
“I know! Trust me, I’m mad about it, too. But they said I’ll have it in my hands on Monday.”
“What’s goin’ on up there? You think it’ll get worked out?”
“I don’t know. I hope so,” he said as he sat down on the couch. His eyes staring off in the distance. “I hope so.”
The next morning, I woke up early, feeling insecure—like I couldn’t trust if the school was going to pay us or not. We’d always had a sure foundation of at least a pay check, but this was just weird. We had talked about Michael applying elsewhere, so we started sending out resumes. Early one morning, I checked my e-mail account as well as Michael’s.
No new mail.
I was hoping that one of the resumes would open a door to financial freedom but, nothing. Just silence. And junk mail. I noticed his calendar that was sitting on the floor next to his laptop. I opened it to January--no shows, none for February yet, either.
It was so cold outside. The wind was blowing the single, yellow light that hung at the intersection of Sam Davis and College Street. Back and forth it blew in the wind. I turned to look out the window by the couch where I was sitting. Placing my Bible in my lap, I noticed a tear in the couch.
I sat in silence.
An unfamiliar feeling--doubt looming in my mind. What was going on?
“God, I feel like I’m at the bottom here.”
I closed my eyes. I expected to hear something new and freeing. Something that would send my worries out the door and into the chill where they belonged. I sat. I expected God to answer me in a way I could touch and feel--preferably with cold hard cash in the equation. An e-mail. An interview. I believed we would wake up and have all the answer’s regarding our income flow. And as I sat, I heard something I never expected. Something that jarred my soul.
“I’m at the bottom. And if you want to be with Me, this is where we are going to hang out.”
It was as clear as the mist that had collected on the window screen.
An answer I never anticipated.
It was not what I was looking for. Not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to be rescued that day. I didn’t know what He meant--going to the bottom. I didn’t know I would claw and scrape the muddy walls all the way down, not free fall. But I knew my answer, in the terms I was anticipating, was not coming anytime soon.
And with that thought in mind, I braced for the descent.