If the Lord was involved in the birth of my business, he was even more determined to teach me to trust him in every detail. It’s one thing to have a vision for something new, but another to live with the practical problems that arise from that vision. My business was a partnership from the beginning, and I was to learn just how important that partnership was.
It was 1987, and my business was going well. I decided it would be a good idea to have a brochure made, something I could hand out at seminars and mail to prospects. I enlisted the help of a talented friend and soon had a very nice product created. Off I went to the printer’s to have a thousand copies made. What an exciting prospect — my own business brochure!
About two or three weeks later, the printer called to say my order was ready. When I went to the shop to pick up the order, to my dismay, the brochures had a couple of smudges. One was on the very front, and one was on one of the panels inside. As it was important to me to give a good impression of my business, I told the printer that they were unacceptable and that I wanted him to redo the order at no expense to me. He didn’t like the idea at all. He countered that he didn’t think that the smudges were that serious, but eventually he gave in to my complaining and said he’d reprint them.
As he was getting ready to dispose of the defective brochures, he said, “Look, I’m going to throw these away. Would you like them?”
I replied, “Well, I probably won’t use them, but I’ll go ahead and take them.”
I took the brochures and didn’t think anymore about them. Several weeks later, the new ones were ready. Nothing more was said about the first ones, at least not for a while.
About a year or so later, I was pacing the floor, praying for the business and some specific aspects of it. I wasn’t praying about integrity or godly principles that particular day, but my“partner” certainly had those things on his mind.
In a voice that was almost audible, the Lord surprised me. “Sue,” he said, “do you remember a year and a half ago when you had those brochures made up?” The Lord’s voice was so abrupt and so obvious that I stopped in my tracks.
“Yes, Lord, I remember those brochures,” I responded.
He continued, “Do you remember what you did with the ones that were smudged?”
“Yes, Lord, I used them.”
“Sue,” he replied, “that’s not right. You required that man to make new brochures because the first ones were smudged. You had him make them because the original ones weren’t acceptable to you. But then you went ahead and used them. That’s not right.”
I felt terrible.
He continued, “Now I want you to go back to the printer and pay for those second thousand brochures.”
I knew that the Lord was speaking to me. I also knew that I didn’t have the money and that I’d have to go into my savings account. And so I went to the bank, withdrew what I thought would be the fee, and put it into my checking account. Next I sought out the printer.
When I found him, I asked this man if he would be willing to have a soda with me. I told him I wanted to talk something over with him. From there, we went into the next room and sat down at a table, where I treated him to a Coke. I began to explain.
“You may or may not remember me, but a little over a year ago, I brought you an order of brochures to print.” I told him my story and explained to him what I was doing, what had happened to me, and how the Lord had spoken to me.
“So I’ve come to ask your forgiveness and to pay you for the one thousand brochures I used,” I told him. “Will you forgive me?”
His mouth dropped open, and he looked at me and said, “Lady, you must be crazy.”
I responded, “Well, that may be true, but I believe I must respond to what the Lord has told me, and I want to make this right. Please, let’s go back to your office, and you figure out what I owe you.”
We did just that, and I paid him. When I left, my conscience was clear, and I knew that I’d done what the Lord wanted. My “partner” had shown me an important lesson about building our business on integrity and godly principles.
Life and business with this heavenly partner didn’t cease to be interesting. If he held me accountable for things that displeased him, he also took care of my every need in ways that amazed me. I could look to some of his provisions in the past to see that he would continue his care for me. I recalled the time when I encountered medical problems and didn’t have a solution.
It was 1985, and I had quit my job at the Navy Federal Credit Union. Because I was self-employed, I had to pay for my own health insurance; therefore, I joined on with a large insurance company as an individual policy owner. During the physical exam, the doctor startled me by announcing that I had mitral valve prolapse in my heart. To make a long story short, the insurance company immediately raised my premium sixty dollars a month.
I argued that I had never had such a thing, and surely it would have been discovered long ago if it had been there. I had had countless physicals during my growing-up years, and the problem would have been discovered if it existed. I wanted a second opinion, but it was no use. The company insisted that I pay the money, period. The company offered to consider reducing my premium if, after a year, I had no problems.
The end of that year came, and I had no problems. But the company refused to make good on its offer. The only way I could possibly have my premium reduced was to have a complete heart exam, including an EKG and ECG, at my expense. That was out of the question. First, it would cost me a small fortune, which I didn’t have, and second, I didn’t know a cardiologist I had confidence in.
During my prayer time one day, it occurred to me to pray for a cardiologist who would barter with me. Maybe I could do some organizing for him to help pay my medical expenses. Perhaps he could provide the tests, and I could work on his office. What a ridiculous prayer, I thought. How in the world was I going to find the right doctor in the first place, and what doctor would be willing to barter with me? It really was a prayer launched in faith.
Some time later, I gave a seminar on organizing a home to six participants in Columbia, Maryland. As only God could arrange, it turned out that one of them was a cardiologist. I told him of my dilemma and asked if he would be willing to examine me and let me pay by organizing his office. I’m sure he had never had that request before. This wonderful man said he didn’t need help at his office, but his wife had wanted their kitchen redone. He suggested that I come to his office on Friday, and we could begin the tests then and finish on Saturday morning. He was more than happy to barter with me.
It worked out perfectly, and after my tests, I spent the rest of Saturday organizing the kitchen in their home. Once again, God proved to have a twinkle in his eye and another creative way to take care of my needs. I was beginning to see that these “crazy” prayer requests weren’t so crazy after all. To add icing to the cake, the tests proved that I didn’t have mitral valve prolapse. I took the results to my insurance company, and the company reduced my insurance rates immediately.
Whether it was brochures or medical problems, the Lord was showing me that he cared about every detail of my life. He wanted integrity in our business. He cared about my health. Resources are the least of his worries. Obedience is high on his list. Obeying his instructions about the brochures cost me money from my savings. But depending on him to provide the right doctor at the right place at the right time saved me even more money. It all balanced out. This was an adventure in trust, and an exciting one at that. Who could imagine what he’d be up to next.
“The Lord demands fairness in every business deal. He established this principle.”
—Proverbs 16:11 (Living Bible)
“So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”
—Acts 24:16 (NIV)