An Unfinished Journey
Lessons of spiritual growth through the perils of personal economic collapse…
By Gary S. Day and Victoria S. Day
Published by Gary S. Day
Copyright 2015 Gary S. Day
Discover these other titles by the same author!
Grow Your Biblical Garden: a pictorial guide
Seeing Daniel’s Visions
Categories of Prophecies
Look for these upcoming titles by Gary S. Day also.
Seeing John’s Visions
Prophecy and Prophets in the New Testament
The New Testament Church
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
Thank you for downloading this eBook. This book remains the property of the author. No portion of this writing may be used to be distributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes, via any form or method of transference, without the written permission of the author. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.
Table of Contents
When the Lord reveals Himself through His word, we are often awestruck. Learning that He actually means what he said in the bible, not for someone else’s life but for our lives is a truly humbling experience.
Over and over again particular passages of the bible burned in our hearts as He spoke to us during our time of economic collapse and recovery. To our delight He gave us the grace to accept what He spoke to our hearts though His word, and found that He is a keeper of His word and a strengthener of faith.
God is good and knows when to directly answer and speak to the issues we are facing in our lives. And He spoke loudly to us; not audibly as some would teach, but distinctly nevertheless!
What we didn’t know in sufficient depth was just how much God actually wants to be involved in our lives! I feel a little foolish saying this first of all because He has said this very same thing in various ways throughout many of the passage and stories in the bible. Secondly, because I have been a pastor for many years and taught that God loves His people dearly and wants a close relationship with them. And thirdly, I was a Professor of Biblical Studies, at Canaan Bible College in India, so you’d think that I would know better.
I pray that you don’t judge me too harshly for there are a few things that must come together for us to learn God’s ways more deeply. They are: life experience in holiness, faith in the Lord at a deeper and more committed level, a spiritual mind (for without it we cannot see God at work in our lives), a firm belief in the word of God, and a knowing that God is more willing to give to us than we are to receive. Throughout a Christian’s life, they will have an understanding of, or experience the above things at one level or another. All of these together is necessary for a successful walk of faith.
If I were to guess which one is more lacking in most Christian lives it would be the last ingredient; God is more willing to give than we are to receive. There are several reasons that can be pointed out for us not to accept that God wants to give to ‘me’ a deeper experience of Him. Perhaps the most prominent of these is past abuse in our lives. This is true especially when sexual abuse has occurred, but it is also true for verbal and physical abuse as well. Experienced abuse of any kind often hinders our vision of God. The secularist would say that it hinders our self-image, and it does, but more importantly it hinders our ability to see and experience the love of God.
Another reason is the inability to forgive and to accept forgiveness. So many Christians do not experience the fullness of living the life of faith. It is because unforgiveness hinders faith growth. Too often the Christian does not get beyond the initial stage of faith that begins when their belief in Christ Jesus began. A lack of a real substantive understanding of the grace of God in our lives, and of the role of grace in the plan of salvation, is generally at the root. Forgiveness is undeserved. When unforgiveness is the problem of our growth it is usually because the Christian believes that ‘they’ don’t deserve being forgiven. The concept is correct, but the focus is wrong.
A third, and the most prominent reason, is the allowance of sin to reign in our Christian lives. Sin blinds our spiritual perception. Sin that has dominance over our senses, one or all of them, becomes stumbling blocks to our spiritual growth. There is no struggle more intense in our lives than the one for dominance between holiness and sin. Herein lies the fundamental occasion of spiritual warfare; and in microscopic form, the illumination of the grand battle between good and evil, God and Satan.
Two Scripture verses provides a foundational structure here: “Be holy for I am holy” and “God is Spirit.” God is a holy Spiritual being. After the sin fall of mankind our holy spiritual relationship with God was ripped apart, separating mankind from God. That relationship is mended through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. The wrench in the works that grinds us to a halt in our faith walk is that we are human and we live in a sinful world. Total surrender of our lives to Christ is the way to overcome sin in our lives, because He is the author and finisher of our faith.
When Victoria and I seriously gave our lives over to Christ (again) we found that the Lord wants to be very involved in our lives. He not only desires to direct our paths, but He wants to lead us in every aspect of our lives. Besides that, He wants us to be totally aware that He is concerned about every aspect of our lives as well!
Oh, I understood that God provides; that He loves us and gave His only Son Jesus to die for our sins because of that love; I understood that. In fact I’ve preached many sermons about the faithfulness of God, and believed in what I preached. I’ve even experienced what I would call little miracles in my life, like being healed of childhood leukemia.
But what I didn’t truly understand was the depth of His concern for my life. Victoria also had trouble believing that God wanted to be so closely involved in her life. We both needed to learn the same deeper lessons of faith walking.
We soon found that the way He teaches us these things is to put us in a position of total dependence upon Him. With me and my wife, that meant the loss of just about everything that we had accumulated in this life.
A.W. Tozer once wrote,
“A sculptor does not use a manicure set to reduce the crude unshapely marble into a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer and the chisel are crude tools, but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful. To do His supreme work of grace within you, He will take from your heart everything you love most. Everything you trust in will go from you. Piles of ashes will lie where your most trusted treasures used to be.”
I can only say that Mr. Tozer must also have traveled the roads of Crash and Grow, for he is spot on the mark of how God works to get our attention.
We too have lost what we loved the most, our dogs. They were our children, since ours were grown and gone. I also lost what I unwittingly trusted the most, my secular job of many years. And, the house I trusted that would be my home during our retirement years was foreclosed upon and gone soon after losing my job.
We put this book together to show how God used His word in our lives, not only to get us through some pretty rouged territory, but also to deepen our faith in the faithfulness of the Lord. As I share these bible passages, I will also share the story of how they were applied to our lives. We hope it encourages you to fully trust in the Lord and His love for you.
Every story has a beginning, but it usually begins at another juncture than the actual jumping off point. It will be no different here. It must be remembered that what we are reporting is just one portion or segment of our life’s passage. With that in mind we had to decide where to begin. So, we decided to start when the Lord met Victoria and myself on a dusty dirt road near our home in Northern Arizona, shortly after the news of the foreclosure on our home.
Several scripture passages came to the forefront at that time. Our journey of deepening trust had begun.
Lesson 1: The Lord Will Keep You
“The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 121.8
You might call this the overall promise from God to His own, even to us. Every step we took from this point of our story onward we were to watch and see that the Lord is in charge. Our job was to remember the promises of God spoken to us by His Spirit through His word, and in prayer; and to trust that He would keep His word. He would do the rest.
One of the obstacles that many Christians face in their walk of faith is the strong tendency to want to take control of their life. The self-help section in book stores are filled with books giving direction on how to take control of your life. Unfortunately, many ‘Christian’ books use the same formulas that the secular press promotes. You can do it! The Christian ‘spiritual’ mind knows that that is false. The Christian perspective of living by faith is that ‘Christ can do it,’ not us.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we do nothing, but that we do the right thing. Being the boss of our life and in control of our life is not the right thing, but the wrong thing that too many Christians focus upon. The right thing for the Christian to do in their walk of faith is to be obedient to the Lord. If our intention is to be obedient to the Lord, He will help us to do so.
The way that we learn what the Lord wants for us is threefold: 1) Fellowship with other true believing Christians, including attending Bible believing church services; 2) Consistent worship of the Lord through prayer, praise and thanksgiving; 3) Ongoing diligent bible study, reading and memorization of Scripture. From these actions the Christian develops a knowledge base through which the Holy Spirit uses to guide us into all truth.
Does this mean that we will not stumble from time to time if we do all of these things? No. But as we do these things we will notice the growth in our faith and practice that aligns more with the word and will of God.
Lesson 2: Live By Faith
“The just shall live by faith.” Habakkuk 2.4; Romans 1.17; Galatians 3.11 and Hebrews 10.38
The second, yet primary teaching that the Lord wanted to get across to us, had to do with practicing to live by faith. It is the place where our story led us in order to take our stand on His word, not just for the moment of crisis but for the rest of our lives. These verses that teach that ‘the just shall live by faith’ each have a turnstile type of meaning, circling around the word ‘live.’
The crux of the difficulty comes in transitioning from the gaining of spiritual life through the repentance of our sins and belief in Jesus Christ on the one hand, to living as a child of God in a sin filled world and body on the other. The ongoing struggle between flesh and spirit is the battle ground of living by faith as a child of God. The initial gaining of renewed spiritual life comes through the redemption we receive by the applied shed blood of Christ upon us by God, through faith. The continued application of that shed blood in our day to day life results in successful living as a Christian believer. However, just like salvation, living a Christian life is also, and only achieved by faith, ‘not of your own; it is the gift of God.’ You cannot live a successful Christian life without Christ living through you.
In order for Christ Jesus to do that the Christian must understand that God really does want to live in and through their everyday existence. Christ living through you is living by faith. The theologians call this a sanctification process, but unless you know where that process leads one only flails around and will seldom really walk by faith. The moment we are saved, we can walk by faith, but our spiritual thinking is not developed. However, there are no set times or number of tests that one must pass in order to grow enough to walk by faith. But there are several elements that become part of the life of the Christian who ‘lives’ by faith.
The first element is the absolute conviction that Christ saved and forgave the Christian desiring to walk by faith. I can’t tell you how many times over the years of ministry that I have run across Christians who only hope that they will make it to heaven. The reason they think that way is usually because they think that they are not good enough. In one respect that is true, ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ However, eternal life in Christ is a promise from God that the Christians receive because of their belief in God’s only Son. When we don’t believe the promise of God, we are not believing God and never truly grasp the concept of living by faith.
Along with the conviction of being saved is the conviction of being forgiven. For whatever reasons, too many Christians walk around with forgiven guilt mounted on their shoulders. These are the memories of sin in their lives that they just cannot let go of. ‘If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,’ is what the word of God says. The Christian who walks around with forgiven guilt have not been set free, because of their unbelief in the word of God. Again, forgiveness is a promise of God. If we don’t believe the promise of God, we are not believing God and will have difficulty living by faith.
The second element of living by faith is akin to the first. The absolute conviction that the Scriptures of the Bible is the Word of God is a necessity of the Christian living by faith. Without this anchor, faith itself is dissipated. Growing in the knowledge of the word of God is our Christian duty. It is not an elective course in the Christian life. For through the knowledge of the word of God we gain understanding of the will of God for our lives. Knowledge of the written word is good, but it is not the end of all. That knowledge must lead us to the knowledge of the living word of God in and through our lives.
A third element of those Christians who are successfully living by faith is their total surrender of their life to Christ. What this means is that it becomes their desire to have Christ live through them. It is their prayer that God, in Christ, brings glory to His name. It is the belief that God indeed will do as His word says He will do, which presupposes the second element.
It is not, however, the belief that they will ‘prosper’ materially in this life if they life by faith. This is a carnal faith perspective that will leave many saying, ‘Lord! Lord!’ And Christ’s response will be, ‘I never knew you.’ More than many times the will of God for our lives is not material prosperity, but Spiritual prosperity.
Another element is the transformation from the worldly perspective of life, to the Spiritual perspective of life. This does not entail superstition of any kind. It is the lens by which we view the events and purposes of life. It is the lens by which the Christian is to test the event, thought or action to assess, ‘what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.’ (Romans 12.4) The unregenerate mind is hostile to God and cannot comprehend or submit to God’s laws. If you find yourself rebelling against the word of God, know that you’re trying to understand God’s way through the worldly perspective. You cannot live by faith while adhering to the worldly perspective of life.
“The just shall live by faith.” The ones who are justified in the eyes of God shall live their lives by faith. It is not an option, but a natural Spiritual outcome of believing in Christ. If someone says they are Christian and live not by faith, are they Christian?
Lesson 3: God Answers
“Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16.24
It was with this verse that the Lord taught us His deep care for us. God wants us to be joyous in Him! The relational wording of this verse can be seen when you look at it as between the Father and His child. We hardly ever asked anything for ourselves. But God put us on a road of faith building and lined us up to Ask, Seek and Knock. It was the prescription of God for us to see His faithfulness during our economic woes and afterwards.
The asking, seeking and knocking allowed us to clearly see God at work in our lives. These three actions are to be applied both to the Lord, and also to people; God speaks to the people’s hearts, through other’s need. Subsequently, we saw this method of God working in our lives to help others. We saw their asking also in a much different light than before.
The United States military had a don’t ask, don’t tell policy when it came to mating preference. There is a don’t ask, don’t tell prescription for many who are living the Christian life also. They in essence say, ‘If we don’t ask of God, we won’t tell of God.’ Asking of God requires that we believe that God will answer. Many ask of God, but for their own pleasure. They ask amiss. In prayer, your voice is heard when God speaks through you. Just as the Pagan could not climb Mt Olympus, the Christian cannot ascend to the throne of God through their own efforts. The throne room of God is ascertainable for the Christian only in Christ through faith. When we ask of God and He answers, we give glory to God for His answer, and we tell others, especially believers, what God had done. This is testifying to the acts of God.
The reason many Christians do not ask of God is at least three fold: 1) they do not believe that God will hear their prayers; 2) they don’t believe God will answer, even if He does hear; and, 3) they don’t believe God answers. In all three reasons there is the same component threaded throughout; a lack of faith. There are many reasons why people do not believe God’s word and we cannot take the time to examine each category of disbelief here. However, the Bible often speaks directly to these categories of disbelief within the believer. Take a look inside to discover God’s answer for your disbelief.
Knocking is always associated with asking. Sometimes you are doing the asking, sometimes not. If you don’t believe me, go to your neighbor’s house and knock, but don’t say a word. Sooner or later they will ask you, ‘What do you want?’ Whenever you knock, you ask or will be asked. Knocking is the threshold for communications. A knock starts conversations that often leads to the solutions of any given situation, whatever it may be. That is why God wants us to knock.
When we knock God may question us, unlocking our motives before our eyes, or having us examining the necessity of our request. At other times it is an opening for us to trust Him.
Seeking is looking for something lost or needed. The object or thing sought is always outside of our immediate grasp. It is a tool that God uses to examine our hearts. If we seek God with all of our heart we are promised that He will be found. But do we actually believe that promise. When God causes us to seek all kinds of emotions or actions take place. Our job as seekers is to find where the Holy Spirit is leading us. On our part it will take energy and physical action, such as sweeping the house as did the woman who lost the coin in the Gospel story. It will also take prayer, desire and faith that what is sought will be found with God’s help. That of course will necessitate that we trust in the Lord…with all our heart. As you walk with us on this segment of our unfinished journey you will be able to detect God using these three methods to encourage and increase our faith and trust in Him.
God Met Us on the Road
It was during one of our regular walks with our dogs, in the middle of nowhere in the desert, down a dusty road. With the rugged mountains behind us, and the valley before us, we could see for sixty miles. Victoria and I were aware that we were moving on from the church I then pastored. We had been praying that God would reveal what he had in mind for us. I applied for many pastorate positions, but no door opened.
Then we thought that maybe we should start a church somewhere. In my spirit I knew that we were to go somewhere in the Northwest. After much prayer it ultimately was narrowed down, and I understood that it would be within fifty miles of the Grants Pass area of Southern Oregon. I even pointed it out on the map to my wife. Neither Victoria nor I had ever been there. I had no idea what awaited us, but announced to Victoria that God had something else in mind, something which would be different. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I knew That God was provision for ministry would be different. Little did I know how true that was going to be!
We were praising God and discussing all these things on that dusty road in Northern Arizona, knowing that we were on a new faith journey. The dogs ran ahead of us playing hard as they always did.
We started discussing walking by faith. We both sensed an urgent need for all followers of the Lord Jesus to practice living more fully by faith than they ever had before; and that we should begin practicing immediately, not later when we had the time. We may not have the time latter to practice. Any sports participant will tell you that one of the reasons you practice is not only to get better, but also to be in shape when the time comes to put into practice what you have learned. Victoria and I saw that down the road a time of hardship was coming upon the church, and those who didn’t start practicing living by faith more fully now would have a hard time keeping the faith when truly hard times came. What we discovered was necessary for others, was also necessary for us. We started praising and thanking God for showing us the necessity to more deeply walk in faith.
Just at that moment the Holy Spirit strongly came upon us, filling us to overflowing within our spirits. We praised God with renewed vigor.
The presence of the Lord was more powerful than I had ever experienced. Victoria describes it as being “hit” by the Spirit of God. We both were overwhelmed.
Moments later, Victoria looked over to me with teary eyes and asked, “Did you feel that?” I looked back at her with equally teary eyes, and whimpered, “Yes.” I could hardly speak at first. A great burden seemed to lift off of us and a great peace replaced it. It was that peace beyond understanding that the Word of God spoke about. We knew in an instant that everything would work out okay. We were energized by the power of His might.
The Lord Jesus spoke to our hearts very strongly about walking by faith. And, as if to verify that He was there with us, the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle filled the air. We knew that it was the Lord because there were no houses, trees, gardens or anything of the sort around us for at least a mile, if not more. The only green thing around was what is locally known as creosote bushes, or more correctly, Chaparral (Latin: Larrea). And of course, there were rocks and dirt! God met us on the road that day. This we can testify to with full assurance.
From that moment on we believed that what was about to happen in our lives was to glorify Him who loves us so much. We would be a witness to His faithfulness time and time again. The purpose of this writing is to do just that; to give Him the praise and due honor as the author and finisher of our faith.
Lesson 4: Hear His Voice
“My sheep hear my voice.” John 10.27
The Lord wasted no time to begin showing us our need to listen closely to the leading of the Lord. He began early the next morning teaching us how to follow Him by faith during this time. But actually it is all of the time, not just in a time of trouble that we are to walk by faith. The first thing we learned that day was to hear His voice and to listen to it.
It was early in the morning and I was sound asleep. Victoria had told me later that she felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray for protection before she got out of bed. She thought, “Nah! This is my imagination.” So she went to put her foot on the floor but she felt the prompting even stronger. So, she put her leg back under the covers and prayed that the Lord would protect her. After she finished praying she felt better (you always do when you obey the Lord) and she got up out of bed.
She went to the kitchen as usual to make a pot of coffee. The coffee pot was next to the stove and had to be plugged in. As she reached for the plug she heard, as she put it, a “Chish. Chish. Chish.” sound.
I awoke out of my sound slumber to a blood curdling scream, and Victoria insistently yelling for me to come. I jumped out of bed, heart pumping adrenaline as fast as it could go, and ran through the house until I found her in the kitchen. There, on top of the stove, just eight inches from the coffee pot and where Victoria’s arm was, laid curled-up a Mohave Green Rattlesnake. We are sure the Lord shut the snake’s mouth because of her obedient prayer.
I disposed of the snake and made air holes in the wall in the process, but we were perplexed by how it got there. It is very rare to find a snake in your house, especially with three or four dogs that sound the alarm at every moving thing. To us that wasn’t the point.
We knew that the Lord was teaching us to listen to His voice more carefully, and to illustrate that we were entering a deeper spiritual warfare as we depended totally upon Him for everything. We had lost all of the economic support that we banked on. My secular job went south and with it went the house. The bank foreclosed on it because I couldn’t get another job to pay the bills. Of course I tried everything I could to get us out of the predicament that we were in, but to no avail. We have come to learn that losing everything was done so that we could learn what it is to trust the Lord for everything, economic and otherwise.
Lesson 5: God Protects
“May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!” Psalm 20.1b
There were several episodes in this portion of our life journey where this verse could be applied, but the one incident where the Lord spoke through it to calm us was in Yreka, CA at the Burger King.
At the onset of our travel to the Northwest, God had already supplied new tires for the trailer we were hauling. The trailer was stacked-up and loaded to the brim. I went to fill up with gas and the tread fell off of the tires. They were trashed and we didn’t have the funds to buy new tires. What could we do but pray? We were never comfortable asking for anything, especially more than once. But since we were on the beginning of this segment of our spiritual learning (or re-learning) curve, we had no choice. We prayed and I did ask for help, even though it was hard for me to ask for help. Later that day after asking, the Lord moved on the hearts of the dear people at church to supply our need. It was getting too late to begin our journey, so we postponed leaving.
Victoria was driving the car, pulling an old Ford truck bed trailer full of our pared down belongings, and I was driving the van with three dogs. We had two false starts to our journey north. The need for new tires were the first obstacle to our leaving. After getting the tires, we lightened the load even further. And the next day we headed towards Las Vegas via the Hoover Dam.
It was now several years after the 9/11 attack on the world trade center buildings. During the aftermath of that event, one of the things that happened was that the crossing of the dams were restricted. Only one car at a time could cross the Bullhead City dam, and commercial trucks were not allowed to travel over the Hoover dam. They had to take the long way around, at least until the work on the truck bridge, that spanned the Colorado River near the Hoover Dam, was finished.
I knew that the police set up a road block on the only road between Kingman, AZ and Las Vegas, NV. I had driven through it several times before, but without a loaded vehicle or van. What I didn’t know was that they had to be able to see eighty percent of the vehicle contents before they allowed you to go further and cross the dam. We drove nearly eighty miles from the home we were leaving behind before we found that piece of information out. We were not allowed to cross the bridge because there was no way we could unload and reload eighty percent of the things packed tightly in the trailer. So we had to turn around and return back to the house. We trimmed the load even further. It was as if God was saying to us something similar to what was in essence told to Gideon, you had too much to be able to see that God was supplying the need, and not your own ability. So He pared down our belongings to the bare bones, as he pared down the number of Gideon’s men.
On the third try, we decided to drive the long way to Vegas and parts north, like the truckers did. We drove from Northern Arizona through Nevada and crossed over into California by Reno, Nevada. That is where the car brakes started to grind. By the time we got through the hilly and forested area between Reno and Yreka, the brakes were grinding like they were metal to metal. Victoria was frightened, imagining that the brakes were going to fail with the truck bed trailer load behind her, pushing her over a cliff or into the side of a mountain, bursting into flames, and…well, you get the picture.
Victoria was refusing to go on. I tried to encourage her onward, but it wasn’t working. So, we prayed and read Psalm 20 again, and this portion of the verse came alive to us. We wept in Burger King for God spoke to us again, and His Spirit overshadowed us. He let us know that He would protect us. Nothing ill was going to happen.
I had driven this very same route a month or so before, but I had forgotten about the steep downward spiraling of the I-5 freeway between Yreka, CA and Ashland, Oregon! It was a good thing we stopped and God spoke when He did. As it was Victoria and I were both praying, all the way down the steep curving mountainous road. It would have been much worse on the nerves if we didn’t stop and received God’s assurance of His protection.
Soon afterwards we arrived at our destination in Gold Hill, Oregon.
Lesson 6: God Sends Help
“May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!” Psalm 20.2
As I said before, I believed that God was calling us to move to the Grants Pass area of Oregon. We knew no one there except Don and Shirley, whom I met the month before we actually moved what little belongings we could take with us. First let me tell you about my meeting with Don and Shirley.
I came to the Grants Pass area to scout things out before we moved there. I immediately fell in love with the area itself. It was beautiful. My plans were to camp out in my van as I looked all around. Two days after I got there I was driving down the I-5 earnestly praying in my van. I was disgruntled in my spirit so I got off of the freeway so that I could pull over somewhere and pray. I drove down a road running along the Rogue River for about a mile when I saw a sign on the side of the road in front some one’s house. I felt a strong urge to stop and see what it was all about. But I passed it up, thinking I was nuts. I got only about a quarter of a mile before I turned around and went back.
The sign read Loveland Christian Fellowship. I knocked on the door and Don and Shirley, a very sweet couple in their mid- seventies, invited me in. We each shared our testimonies of what God had been doing in our lives. We had a great refreshing time in the Lord. We talked and praised God for hours, after which they then invited me to stay.
On their property Don and Shirley had a separate building they had purposely built for visiting pastors and friends; a single room apartment they called the Oasis. I was so relieved that they asked me to stay there to the duration of my visit. I couldn’t really rest parked at the local Wal Mart. God had met a need that I had, even though I hadn’t asked. God will surely give us what we need. I needed a place to get good rest, and He gave me that at the Oasis; and He gave us our first Christian friends in Oregon.
Don and Shirley invited Victoria and I to stay at the Oasis for a few days when we returned in July. We now had a place to beginning our faith journey in Oregon. And it was totally provided by the Lord!
On the way to Oregon, just outside of Susanville, CA we stopped off in the forest to give the dogs a chance to run, like they did in the open spaces of Arizona. We were tired so we decided to rest there for the night. China, the mother of the other two dogs traveling with us (Face and Brownie), ran away that night. She left our lives as quickly as she came into it. We were sad, but understood that she was Closter phobic, and probably ran away from someone else who was moving when she showed up at our doorsteps in Golden Valley, Arizona, two years before. We prayed that she would find someone else to take her in, and we were sure that she would creep into the hearts of another like she did with us.
Two months before we left Arizona we lost two old dogs to cancer, Blue and Sky. Now, one more dog was gone from our lives. Our lives were out of our control. We were in the hands of our loving and all-knowing God. As it turned out, we could not have kept China. Her chance of survival was greater because she ran away in the forest that day. It was something that God knew and we didn’t. In that moment though, we were just dealing with another loss.
Shortly before we left for Oregon I was given the name of a man who was the pastor of a church in Grants Pass by Tommy, Director of Missions of the River Valley Baptist Association. Tommy told us that he went to college with him. Evidently Tommy got ahold of Ron and told him we were coming and was given permission to have us look him up when we got there. So now we had one ministerial contact, and two Christian friends in Oregon. With that, we stepped out in faith and left for Oregon.
After we arrived at Don and Shirley’s place, Victoria visited with them while I unloaded the things we brought with us in the storage facility I obtained in Grants Pass the month before. When I finished with that chore, Victoria and I met with Tommy’s college friend Ron, and his wife, at their church. Then we went to a local Mexican restraunt for lunch. They both were obviously skeptical as we told them our story of our journey by faith, but Ron did put us in contact with Richard, pastor of a church in Central Point, Oregon. Ron and his wife didn’t quite seem to get the way we were totally depending on the Lord to meet all of our needs. To many Christians that means you have to ‘trust in yourself’ and don’t do anything without everything planned out and secured before you act.
Victoria and I met with Richard the next day at Karen’s Restraunt in Rogue River City. Oddly enough, we discovered that Christian people will react to you in one of two ways when you present your story of walking in faith, and totally trusting the Lord for everything. The first way is to think you are a bum, or such like. “What do you want me to do about it?” is the general attitude, “I have problems of my own.” This kind of response is usually detected in their tone, or in the cadence and wording of what is said to you. And usually, they will not come out and say that they think that way. But their skepticism shows.
The second way people will respond is one of bewilderment. They may not know what to do, but feel for your situation, even if they don’t understand the faith challenge facing them in response to your situation. Richard, I believe, initially fell into this category.
When we first met Richard in that coffee shop, he was talking about everything else except the situational problem at hand. Grant you, it was a big problem. What are we going to do now that we arrived here? All the money we had scrapped together to get to Oregon was almost depleted. I chalked it up as nerves. But Victoria snapped Richard out of telling jokes and talking about Greek, when she said that God will hold the Church accountable for how they respond to their brothers and sisters in need. She said that the Church is going to see more and more Christians facing the same type of trials that we were. I agreed. The question is, ‘How is the church body going to respond?’ Time will tell what the answer will be.
Richard then presented a couple of scenarios, which unfortunately would lead to Victoria and I being separated for a while, and the loss of the remaining two dogs.
A few days later Victoria flew to California to stay with one of the kids (Yes, God provided the ticket from another person!). After she left I took Face and Brownie to a no-kill shelter. They accepted Face, but not Brownie. We subsequently learned that he was adopted out to a loving family, and they they changed his name to Flynn.
I ended up staying at the U-Turn for Christ facility in Gold Hill, Oregon for two months. Isn’t it a coincidence that both Don and Shirley lived in God Hill, and that the place Richard had arranged for me to stay was also in Gold Hill? I think not. I was allowed to keep Brownie for that period of time I was in Gold Hill. It was of great comfort for me since I had no work place, no wife with me, nor anyone else from our extended dog family. I took Brownie everywhere my travels took me, whether exploring the area or looking for work. Brownie also brought joy to the fellows at the U-Turn facility.
But when I left to stay at the basement of Rchard’s church, because I finally did get a seasonal job at Harry and David’s (a high end specialty foods company), I no longer could keep him. The church was closer to Harry and David and was better on time and gas for me to stay there; and my time at U-Turn was coming to a close anyway.
The Lord provided my needs several times while at U-Turn. For instance, a church from Arizona that I had never been to heard of our stepping out in faith, and they sent me a check that summer just in time to pay for the brakes I needed for my van. Two guys from U-Turn provided the labor and installed the brakes for me.
As a matter of fact, it was a friend of Don and Shirley who took me to Harry and David to put in an application for work. He also miraculously showed up one day when my van broke down in the Mc Donald’s parking lot in Medford, Oregon. It had been almost a year since I last saw him. We greeted each other, and after explaining what seemed to be wrong, we prayed together and he gave me twenty dollars to help me out. You guessed it. I was short twenty dollars for the mobile repair bill! God had supplied my need once again.
The people of the church in Central Point were also great. Two of the guys there even fixed the brakes on the car, gratis. God provided our every need; not quite like we would have thought, but He did provide.
Lesson 7: God Remembers You
“May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices!” Psalm 20.3
The directors took the fellows in the program to many different churches for training purposes, during my stay as a guest at the U-Turn for Christ in Gold Hill. I went with them many times. One Tuesday evening we went to Jon Courson’s church in Applegate, Oregon. It is a beautiful facility with a radio station, an outside Amphitheater, a coffee shop and bookstore.
The indoor worship sanctuary was large and airy. Jon opened up the microphones for people to give testimony for what God was doing in their lives. After a few people had gotten up and delivered their testimony, I rose and took the microphone to tell of the faithfulness of the Lord. As I began to speak the Holy Spirit fell on me (I don’t know how else to describe it). Tears started to well up and my voice cracked as I encouraged the people to trust in the Lord, because He is faithful. I felt that the Lord had given me the opportunity to bear witness to His faithfulness and He was pleased.
I have spoken hundreds of time before audiences and I rarely tear up. But I couldn’t help it. I was very thankful for what I saw the Lord doing, even though I was still in the midst of being unsettled. What God wants from His people is for them to fully trust them with their lives… for the rest of their lives.
Lesson 8: God Will Take Care of You
“I am your God and will take care of you until you are old and your hair is gray. I made you and will care for you; I will give you help and rescue you.” Isaiah 46.4 (GNB)
This is another verse expressly addressing His overall promise of care that greatly touched our hearts. The Lord spoke through His word to our hearts specifically about His taking care of us in our latter years.
This passage was particularly meaningful to my wife, Victoria. It gave us a long-term sense of security, even though she doesn’t naturally support many gray hairs on her head. Yet, she secretly harbored a fear of the future that the Lord spoke to very, very specifically. Not only that, but He has provided for both of us in a miraculous way.
After working for three months at Harry & David’s I thought that the beginning of the end of our long trial was nearing, even though the seasonal job at H&D had ended. I was able to get a small affordable apartment (coincidentally in Gold Hill where Don & Shirley live), and bring Victoria from California to be with me. Soon after, the Lord granted Victoria her disability claim. Many whom we have met (or heard about since) have had to fight through appeals to get it, or were turned down altogether. She not only didn’t have to fight for it, she got approval within the expected four or five-month window it takes to get approval once the application had been completed. But that’s not the whole story! That is just the outcome of the story. Let me tell you about this miracle.
As I have mentioned before, we were following the prescription of “Ask, Seek and Knock” in trying to determine what path to follow that would lead us out of the maze of economic instability. So we both sought jobs.
We were very excited when, within the same week we both found employment at different locations, but with the same company (which shall remain nameless). We thought that God was coming through economically. We praised His name for answered prayer. But we were wrong. We still hadn’t understood that He was in charge, especially since we both were let go within two months!
How could this happen? Better yet, why did this happen? Was God throwing us to the wolves? The stress level of course went through the roof, for we didn’t have the resources to keep the roof that we had over our heads for long. The lesson God had planned for us this time began when we lost what we thought was some semblance of security, again.
Not that anyone would admit it, but I was facing what I saw as age discrimination when it came to looking for work. I understood and didn’t blame them. I was over fifty, there were many out of work and there were many younger men to choose from. Yet, we too had to survive. What were we to do?
We were knocking hard at God’s door. That is when Victoria decided to see if she could get disability, because of her very arthritic hands, diabetes and other maladies, which are not important to the story.
Whenever God is at work teaching His children to walk by faith, you can be sure that the evil one will do his best to derail the faith train, through discouragement and outright interference.
Victoria called the Social Security offices. The first lady who spoke with her told her that she wasn’t eligible for disability, saying that she didn’t have enough work credits. This didn’t sound right with Victoria, so she asked for an in person interview. “They’ll just tell you the same thing,” was the ladies reply. We found out later at the in person interview that she outright lied.
This is where the ‘God granted coincidences’ led us to the interviewer whose husband had just gone through the same process Victoria was to embark on. We missed the first appointment because we couldn’t find the Social Security office in time, so we had to come back the next week.
The next week God opened the door to be interviewed by the person who had the most applications approved. We were in her office for two and one half hours filling out the necessary information together. It was then we learned that if Victoria had waited just one more week to apply, she would have been denied the possibility to apply. It had something to do about being in a specific work time frame. One week! Did we know that? No. But God did! His timing was perfect.
Besides that, we learned that the fact that Victoria had sought to work, but was let go (in one week) because they said that she could not do the job (even though her dismissal was politically motivated), worked in her favor in getting the disability claim approved. So once again, our loss was our gain. And the Lord gets the glory.
Now, we just had to get through the next three months. With no ability to pay our rent for even one month, we began seeking other paths of income.
We saw the many times that God had supplied our needs. So, even though we still trembled, we now trembled less. And, we believed a little more in the ability of God to supply all of our needs according to his riches in glory through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Lesson 9: The Lord Gives
“And it shall be given unto you…running over shall men give into your bosom.” Luke 6.38
I am aware that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” But sometimes we have to learn to receive. To be put into a position of needing to be on the receiving end strips one of their pride. It is a humbling position, until you realize that you are not alone. We found that there were many who were in similar a position as we were.
In order to survive, we had to learn to humble ourselves and ask for help. A very difficult thing to do indeed. During the first year of our trial we were so needy, we had to ask for help a lot, which we grew tired of doing, and I’m sure others were tired of hearing. But God’s word does say, “Ask and it will be given to you.” We had no choice, but to ask and ask again.
As mentioned before, after leaving Arizona and coming to Oregon Victoria had to leave and stay with Nathan, the middle son, in Torrance, California for the first five months of our journey. I stayed behind in Oregon to try and get things together. I looked for work in a program for those over 50 years old. I learned that my living condition at the time was considered homeless, though I wasn’t living on the streets. It was then that the flow of food stamps began. I had never taken or needed any sort of public assistance in my life. This was all a new experience for both of us. But we learned about poverty and the grip it holds on many hearts and minds and lives.
I must admit, God supplied my needs with the food stamps while staying at the U-Turn facility in Gold Hill, because I needed to feed Brownie. The facility wouldn’t feed him. And when Victoria was finally able to join me in Oregon, the food stamps really helped us through the most difficult time of our faith trial. We had food to eat if little else.
Another time that we had to ask and seek was during the three-month period before Victoria’s disability checks and more seasonal work at Harry and David would arrive, as is mentioned above. This was the peak point of the testing.
Victoria and I had sought for resources in every place that we could think of. Our close and near close families were tapped out themselves, having their own economic woes. We turned to the friends that we thought might have the resources to help. Nothing! But we held on to God’s promise of provision.
One of Victoria’s friends kept us and our situation in prayer, and had given us small financial love offerings from time to time, and even agreed to pay the first of those three months’ rent, which we were to repay at a later date (and did).
We could not ask her to do so again for the second month’s rent. We were out of resources and close to being out of time. Then one day Victoria got a call from her friend and she told us a story.
It seems that someone who does not know us, or our situation, had sent her an e-mail about homelessness. She got so convicted by the Lord, that without us asking, she had sent the funds to pay our rent again. Praise the Lord! We were seeing God work on our behalf left and right!
The Lord provided $300.00 of the last of the three months’ rent via a religious social agency, and the grace of our landlord, who said she would wait for the rest of the payment until after our checks, came.
The Lord provided for our needs great and small so many times. God wanted us to see His faithfulness. And we saw.
Lesson 10: We Rise and Stand Upright
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright!” Psalm 20.7
The Lord will confirm His word to those around you who question God’s working in your life. When following the Lord by faith, many people may look down on you, mock and ridicule you under their breath, think horrible things about you, and spread gossip about you, yet all the while smile at your face. Many times the Lord does things or allows you to go through situations so that, as is spoken many times in the bible, “they will know that I am the Lord.”
When you go through the loss of everything, what people say or think gets lower priority, as it should be given. When you are focused on following the Lord, the only thing that matters is what He thinks.
Some who appeared to us to be uplifted in themselves, we also saw being brought low. If you follow the story of Israel in the bible you will see this same theme repeated over and over again. Do not think more highly of yourself or of you status in life than you ought, for in an instant you can be brought low.
The Lord has promised in 1 Peter 5.10, “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” Victoria and I have been in the process of the Lord establishing us, and we remain eternally grateful for His continued faithfulness.
Lesson 11: Seek and You Will Find
“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened unto you.” Luke 11.9 (Matthew 7.7)
We stayed in Gold Hill for about another year and a half after that three month time of difficulty. During that year and a half I preached fairly regularly at a local church (in Gold Hill!), and throughout the two surrounding counties as a pulpit supply preacher.
Fast forward a few years. Since living in Gold Hill, the Lord moved us north to answer a call to pastor a church located within an hour of Grants Pass. At the same time God opened the door for me to preach on the local Christian radio station from the very first day of becoming pastor of the church. While pastoring that church we learned some timely lessons from the Lord about being faithful to Him in our journey of faith, no matter what. In the short years we had been at that church we had experienced the full spectrum of human depravity and Christian carnality, along with the sweetest of Christian love and Christ-likeness, kindness and generosity. Church life is always a mixed bag of spiritual maturity and immaturity. It was no different here. The closer we drew near to the Lord the more evident the spiritual battle becomes. This is true for any Christian. That is why faithfulness to the Lord and His word is of extreme importance. Faithfulness is a part of the faith journey that builds spiritual muscle and Christian character. This of course is another story in our unfinished journey and I cannot speak anymore on that portion of our journey. The call to live by faith can only end when we meet the Lord, either at death or at His return. Even so, the Lord has promised to continue to faithfully to fulfill His word to us, and we are confident that He will continue to do so.
More on that latter. For now let me testify about God’s faithfulness to us again.
As pastor of the church mentioned above I received a modest income. It helped pay the bills, but we could not live on that alone since I was in the bi-vocational category of pastors. So, we were even more thankful of God’s provisions of continuous income, outside of the pastorate salary. However, as is said, all good things must come to an end. When time came to end being pastor of the church we faced yet another dilemma.
The area we live in Oregon is very beautiful, but the county has one of the highest unemployment stats in the state. Since we didn’t live in a large or even a moderate sized city, the employment situation was even more problematic.
Endurance, like faithfulness, is an ongoing faith-walk process that is constantly being revisited. Through the trial, tribulations and blessing of pastoring the church I always had an inner security and peace about staying with the church, even though it became very difficult to do at times (for reasons that are not important to this story), especially for my wife Victoria. Several months before leaving the church, I felt that God had released me and it was now time to leave. God had finished what He wanted to do and I had fulfilled His will at that church.
I knew I would need to become gainfully employed again when I did leave the church. So, naturally I started to beat the employment bushes; scouring the papers and the unemployment offerings. It was a no go at every turn, but I remained positive that the Lord would fulfill his promise to provide for us, so I pushed on cheerfully, though being stressed also.
I wasn’t too particular about what kind of job to get. At that point I would take any position that came along. But it seemed that it was not to be. I had been turned down for one position after another. The list of possibilities had been pared down to one remaining job. It was a seasonal position that was to last for only about six months, then it would end. But I hadn’t heard anything. A couple of weeks had passed after filling out my application before I received a call and was granted an interview. I went on the interview and landed the job. But that is not the end of the story.
Although the job was seasonal, and we still needed a full time income beyond that, I was at peace and knew in my heart that God would work all things out. It was a great job. On top of that, the person training me was a Christian who attended a church that I was familiar with. In fact, I had been there a couple of times. We talked about the Lord, faith and the concerns of life, and had a great time during the training period.
I liked the people I worked with and the job itself, but I knew it was short termed. I would have liked to stay, but there were no openings of any kind; full-time or part-time. Two months after I began working, I asked the supervisor if he would consider me if an opening came up. I was not aware of it at the time, but my trainer was contemplating leaving the job to home school her children, if her husband got a tech job he wanted. Within the week three things happened; her husband got the tech job, my trainer quit to be with her kids and I became full-time employee. The Lord provided yet again. I now made more than double what I was making before. All I had to do was to trust Him and to persevere.
Lesson 12: God Sets Up Our Banners
“May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners!” Psalm 20.5a
I went back to Psalm 20 when I first began to write and edit our Unfinished Journey story, about a year ago. God has spoken to us several times through this particular Psalm. I came across this portion of Psalm 20 when setting up a banner on the church’s web site that spoke to me concerning what we were going to be doing in the future. I was amazed yet again. The word of God confirmed to me the direction we are to be going. But it was not to be immediately.
The ending of this portion of our unfinished journey actually began when I attended Bible College. I remember praying to the Lord and asking that He would one day use me through the written word. The answer I received then is that later on in my life He would do so. Over the years I have looked into the possibility of publishing what I have written, but found it impossible to do the traditional route. And, the cost to self-publish with established publishing companies was enormous also, even among Christian publishing houses. Time and again, I had to remember that all things are in God’s hands, in His time and for His glory. During the time period of this portion of our unfinished journey had taken place, I began what can now be called my writing ministry, and continue to do so.
After this last phase of my pastorate ministry, both Victoria and I earnestly prayed and subsequently had a peace about the direction we were to go, with the Lord’s lead. So, now we are going in a quite different direction; one I would not have dreamed I would be going when we started our faith journey depicted in this story. But it is the one he confirmed to me through this portion of Psalm 20.
Although, I now have essentially retired from the traditional pastorate ministry, it is still in our hearts to build-up the Kingdom of God, through any means available. Victoria has opened P23 Designs, offering unique ways to beautifully wear the word of God. And, I have begun an online ministry to help the people of God to grow in the faith through Open Door Online Christian Ministries (OpenDoorOCM.com). Our new direction has one focus, to give God the Glory for the things He has done.
This of course is a developing story in our unfinished journey of faith, and so I end the story now to encourage believers in the Lord Jesus Christ to live life for Him. Your faith walk is the most important thing for you to do, this side of heaven.
Our last words to you are, “Trust the Lord with all of your hearts. He will direct your paths!” And you can see Him providing, if you would but open your eyes to see.
Thanks for reading Unfinished Journey. I hope that it has inspired you to continue your unfinished Christian journey, living by faith. If you liked Unfinished Journey, please take a moment to leave a positive review at your favorite retailer.
Gary S. Day
About Dr. Gary S. Day
For 20 years Dr. Day was Senior Pastor of churches in New York, Arizona and Oregon. Dr. Day has also held Professorial positions in colleges and seminaries in Greater Noida, India and the United States. He now resides in Oregon with his wife Victoria, developing a writing ministry and doing pulpit supply preaching when the opportunity arises.
He and his wife Victoria published a popular magazine in Arizona called Heart of Mohave Magazine. They also have written numerous articles for NarrowGateJournal.com and other blogs.
Other Titles by the Author
Seeing John’s Visions: Experiencing Revelation
Seeing Daniel’s Visions: A Jewish Perspective
Connect with Gary S. Day
Favorite me at Shakespir
Challenged to walk by faith, this couple finds that God is faithful. This is glimpse into a portion of their walk.