Sheila felt like God was speaking to her. But the magnitude of what He was asking her to do was overwhelming. The idea of quitting her job and simply trusting Him for her provision as she devoted her life to full-time ministry was a huge step of faith. As she pondered this challenge, she told the Lord two things: first, she would not live by “faith and hints” and secondly, she would require a sign from Him. Pulling a dollar amount of $69.10 simply out of thin air – she said – “Lord if I receive a check today for $69.10 I will know that you are calling me to live by faith.”
It was 1965 and Sheila Broderick was working in a sales job at a furniture store and spending most of her spare time in ministry, working with drug addicts. One day the head of a ministry called Youth Challenge phoned her at her work and made a strong appeal for her to join their ministry full-time. She would however be responsible to believe God for her own support.
Sheila was in shock. Her boss walked into the room during the conversation and after she finished her phone call she was so engrossed in weighing the whole idea she totally missed seeing her boss in the room.
To Sheila, “living by faith” meant that she would enter into an agreement with God that He would be her employer and that she would trust Him as her sole source of income as she served Him. She would not supplement her income with a part-time job or take a salary through the ministry.
As she prayed about the challenge to her to quit her job and trust God for His provision in her life she felt strongly that she would not enter into this living by “faith and hints.” In other words, she was going to trust God for her needs – without having to “hint” of them to others as she had seen so many people do through prayer letters.
Secondly, and this is something she hesitated to do because of the misuse/abuse of such a method, she determined that she, like Gideon, would put out a fleece. But this was no ordinary fleece. Picking a random number of $69.10 she put some very specific parameters before the Lord. “If I receive a check today for $69.10, yes TODAY, not this week, for the exact amount of $69.10, I will know that you are calling me into this ‘living by faith’ lifestyle.”
Amazingly, that very day, she did receive in the mail a check for $69.10 from a woman in Wisconsin she barely knew. God knew before she asked she would need a $69.10 sign and already had it in the mail when she asked. “It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer.” (Isaiah 65:24) That settled it for her. Needless to say, she quit her job and launched out into the adventure of living by faith. It has now been 45 years since that day. Sheila, still living by faith, has experienced His abundant provision.
Shortly after she took this step of faith, she happened to be sharing with a spiritual mentor in her life whom she deeply respected. She confided in him that now she would likely never be able to visit her native England again, living on a limited income. “My dear child,” the mentor told her. “You can either have a hamburger providing God or a steak providing God.”
That was a living word for Sheila. At the time she did not really know any better. All she knew about was “scrimping by on a piddly salary” as she puts it. But she confesses it “is all about the awesomeness of God!” To this day she thanks God that “I don’t live in poverty or any form of poverty.”
She decided then and there that she would choose to serve a “steak providing God!” That meant at the outset for her that as a single woman in ministry, driving all over the state of Minnesota, that she needed a reliable car. She determined she would never drive a used car. Since that day God has always provided for Sheila the cash to buy a new car when it came time for her to replace her old one. Over the years she has applied these same principles of faith to every area of her life.
Those of us who know Sheila and her incredible generosity could assume she is a very wealthy woman. And yet she lives simply. She pours out her life in serving others while expecting nothing in return. Her life is a testimony to the faithfulness of God to the one who will implicitly trust Him. Because of this He treats her like a queen, richly providing every need out of His abundance.
I pray her life is an encouragement to you to trust God for your provision. Let Sheila’s advice, given so frequently to me, be yours as well – “God wants us to enjoy life.”
John Piper has said “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Is that your testimony today?
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