It was April, 2011. Life was moving along. Ministry was flourishing. I was unaware of the new chapter I was about to enter.
It was a Sunday morning when a friend came up to me with an urgency in his pace. He said to me, “Brandon, I had a dream last night, about you! I just saw you standing alone, and behind you, over your shoulder, were ominous clouds-dark, very dark. It wasn’t demonic, though. But something was coming. ‘Brandon, do not fear!’ is the message I am supposed to deliver to you. ‘Do not fear!'”
So, in light of this alarming forecast, I did what anyone would do…I panicked! I mulled over this exchange for a few days, but after a while I moved on and forgot about it.
As the slow season at work approached, money was slower to come in. We had to find ways to stretch the funds. And sometimes, managing payables and receivables felt like a shell game. During this process, our payment to our workers compensation provider was returned as NSF.
Our insurance check had bounced. Payments we made to other vendors cleared first, and we were out of funds. We had another check prepared, ready and waiting for more funds, but as it turned out, we didn’t receive any more payments for the rest of the month. As a result, our workers comp insurance policy was terminated.
We immediately set to work to resolve the matter. We contacted the provider to resolve the matter, but since the policy expired, they refused to renew it. They were treating us as a brand new client, and as such, they required a large deposit down on the new policy. First though, they wanted the remaining money that was due them from the cancelled policy. In all, they wanted us to come up with $20,000 in order to write a new policy for us.
We worked so hard to make this happen. But to do so meant to operate without workers comp insurance. If we stopped working though, we couldn’t come up with the money. My concern at that point was that our clients might find out.
Soon afterward, we received a phone call from our biggest client. They had been performing a random internal audit and they noticed that our contractor’s license was suspended. This was news to me! I couldn’t believe it, so I had to verify it for myself. Sure enough, since our workers comp insurance was cancelled, our license had also been suspended.
I was mortified. I apologized profusely and promised that we were doing everything possible to resolve the matter.
We had just come up with the $20,000 to reinstate our WC policy. It was a Monday morning, and my administrative assistant was calling State Fund to make the wire transfer. I decided to work remotely that day, so I went to Starbucks near my house. As I walked to the front door, I got a phone call from the office. Since it had taken us a month to come up with the $20,000 deposit, there was now a penalty. They wanted another $8,000 on top of the $20,000. I was devastated. It had taken such hard work and sacrifice to come up with that chunk of money in the first place.
With a heavy heart, I opened the door and walked into Starbucks, went to the nearest table, and set my stuff down. I went and ordered a coffee, and returned to my seat. I had only sat down for a few seconds when the young woman sitting across the table from me asked me something.
“I have a strange question for you…do you know Jesus Christ?”
“I do…” I replied warily.
“You see, this isn’t my normal Starbucks. God told me five different times to come to this location this morning. I’ve been sitting here wondering who I was supposed to talk to, but when I saw you come in, my spirit was energized!”
Needless to say, I was astounded. I believed her. God has had me do similar things, so I recognized His way in her story. She asked me how I was doing, and I began to share with her the devastating news I had just received. I told her how encouraged I was that God had arranged her being there.
Her name is Vanessa. She asked if she could pray for me, and as she did, I just sat there and wept. I was so tired. I was so overwhelmed. I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. She prayed so clearly. She prayed for exactly what I needed. And when she was done, she looked at me and said, “Brandon, He wants you to know that He sees you. He sees you.” I was so overcome, having been ministered to by the Holy Spirit through another believer. It gave me renewed strength to carry on.
This insurance matter always seemed like it was just a couple of days away from a solution. If I had known how long it would actually take to resolve, I would have lost all hope. I kept praying for wisdom, and He kept providing it. In one situation, I had to choose between saving money for payroll and paying my mortgage early. I chose the mortgage. If I hadn’t paid it early, there wouldn’t have been any funds to pay it later. In another situation, I had to choose between using funds for payroll or saving it for a WC insurance solution. I prayerfully chose payroll. In another situation, I was short funded for payroll. At the last minute, God reminded me that I had a credit card check that I could use to give the remaining employee his paycheck.
It had now been a few months since our insurance was cancelled, but we had continued working to come up with the funds for a deposit for a new policy. We were interviewing with 15 different insurance agencies. My greatest fear at that point was that we would have an accident while we were uninsured. And, sure enough, we had a slip/fall employee accident. My mind was reeling. All I could think of was the consequence of the penalty. Would there be a lawsuit? Would we be put out of business? I had no idea what to do. So, once again, I prayed for wisdom. And, once again, God provided it.
As I considered what the best option would be for an employee who had hurt his back after a fall, I suppose I thought of the most logical choice; I would take him to my chiropractor. We did just that, and a few visits later this employee was released and ready to work. I was blown away at God’s goodness.
At this point, the client who first notified us about our contractor’s license was getting impatient, as work was starting to accumulate and we couldn’t perform it for them until our license was reinstated. So, they gave us an ultimatum. We had until the 30th of that month to rectify the problem or our account was going to be cancelled.
By now, every single insurance lead that we pursued had dried up. Our trade is a very hazardous one, and insurance companies are very reluctant to provide coverage to our industry. I was so discouraged. My life seemed so dark. Anxiety consumed me, and what energy survived it was swallowed up by depression. I was in a dark place and my family didn’t know how to help me.
Interestingly, every devotional I came across and each radio program I heard seemed to be all about living with adversity and having endurance.
I ran into Vanessa at Starbucks again. Again, we had a time of prayer and encouragement. She shared with me that there was something much greater at stake here, and that there was a time of refreshment coming-not necessarily easier, but restful.
It had been so long since I had experienced rest. And then, late one night, God woke me up to talk with me about it. It was 4:00 AM and He called me downstairs. I grabbed my journal and Bible and just sat with Him for a few hours. He gave me Scripture. He gave me promises. He gave me pictures of a special future. And He began to show me His purpose. I had been praying for rescue, but it was not His plan to rescue. This trial was a critical part of my journey into destiny. There was no way around it. It was formative.
He also showed me His providence throughout the process. He started connecting all the dots fort me that night. He reminded me of my friend who had given me a prophetic word, long before the trial began, “Do not fear.” He reminded me of the times He had provided financially. He reminded me of the many ways He gave me wisdom in critical moments. He reminded me that He had sent another believer to minister to me through the Holy Spirit in a very dark moment. And, He showed me that the process was drawing to a close.
Soon afterward, again as the result of asking for wisdom, God prompted me to look into Employee Leasing services. Long story short, this was the option we needed, and we were able to sign up with a company who provided WC coverage for our employees and without a big deposit! This ordeal was coming to a close.
It kind of went out with a whimper. As this crisis was resolved, another, smaller one sprung up, followed by other, even smaller ones. There was no great celebration. We just shifted gears and went from one battle to another. But even so, God had delivered me through this trial. It had been six months of anxiety and depression. I had experienced the lowest lows of my entire life, and I had stayed there a long time.
It is a strange thing to walk through trials. There is no trivial answer that makes it all better. It is surreal when you know that it is not oppression, but that it is God-ordained. It is perplexing to know that He does not intend to rescue you.
It was confusing to remember scriptures like, “Be anxious for nothing…” but pray for everything. How do you not be anxious? It was a journey into togetherness with the Father, bringing my anxiety to Him and being with Him in it. It meant being emotionally vulnerable with the One who made me. The anxiety didn’t magically go away. But I wasn’t alone in it.
God’s providence is His engineering, oversight, supervision, participation and communing, all in one. And it was exactly this that buoyed me through the darkest time of my life.