Look at the business card above. The moment that I snapped that picture with my phone, December 12, 2012 at 8:30am was a defining moment in my life. I want you to look closely at the date that is written in my dad's handwriting on the card. It is April 21, 1992, which arguably could be the real defining moment in my life. This card has traveled across time, twenty years, seven months, and twenty-one days to mark the end of time in my life that I will forever be grateful for, and to issue in the next great move of God in my life.
Though I was raised in a born-again Christian home, at some point I decided not to believe the stuff they were selling me in church. I still held a belief in God, but doubted the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. At times I even struggled with the existence of God, but never really went all the way with that belief. I continued to attend church on occasion, but mostly just for my family's benefit, NOT MINE! Needless to say, my faith was nearly non-existent, and my belief was disappearing quickly. As a result there was little joy in my life. Little did I know, but God was about to use circumstances that I created through bad decisions in my life combined with illness that happens to us naturally to bring me back asking for mercy and seeking His grace.
Let me take you back five months to July 2012. We are going to call July 2012 the start of this story, though I believe it goes back much farther than that, but I am going to try to give you the Readers Digest version.
In July 2012 I owned an 18 wheeler and had been going through some struggles with my business for a few months. From mechanical problems to family situations at home, I was really going through the wringer. In July I came down with walking pneumonia and the absolute worst and longest lasting case of gout I had ever had, all at the same time. The gout was so bad I was literally tempted to saw my foot off with a chainsaw. No Joke! For those of you who have had gout you know that I'm telling the truth, but to have it along with walking pneumonia was almost more than I could bare. While these illnesses were going on and me ending up in the ER once and a couple of visits to 24 clinics trying to get relief (and zero insurance) I was also battling truck repairs to the tune of $10000+ and had other problems mounting.
All of these problems metastasized to a point that I just snapped. I had maxed out every credit card on truck repairs and doctor bills. I had no money. I was, in my mind, BANKRUPT!
My beautiful wife Sylvia, who has never lost her faith in God and has always been there by my side no matter how much of a jerk I was, sat down with me and basically convinced me that everything was going to be okay because God had a plan in all of this. My attitude at this point was less than enthusiastic about 'letting go, and letting God' , but I really had no other way to turn. I was thinking that in 90 days I'd be going through bankruptcy court and we'd just start over. So I agreed to let it all go and give God a chance to work some miracles in our lives, though I still was doubting he was gonna do anything.
About a week after making this decision we were at this little country church called The Church House that she had been dragging me to for a few weeks and things started to happen. No one knew our situation because I was rather embarrassed about the whole thing, but we were given a gift of money by someone at The Church House. A rather large gift of money. It was actually given to my wife because I would have never taken it because of my pride. She didn't tell me until I got home. I was angry, embarrassed, grateful, and confused all at the same time. How's that for some mixed up emotions? I won't say how much it was but it was enough to meet our needs for awhile. Sylvia looked at me and said, "God is going to supply all of our needs. Just trust Him."
I'm not too proud to say that I got teary-eyed, and I do think a little bit of faith moved into my heart.
Over the next few days an acquaintance I had met at The Church House had suggested that I look into buying a tow truck and get into the towing business. You see I had told a few folks at The Church House that I was no longer interested in driving a truck or being gone from my family. This guy knew the business in and out, but the only problem was that my credit was maxed to the hilt, and I didn't see anyway anyone would give me a loan for the amount of money I was seeing tow trucks listed for. He told me that I just needed to pray about it and trust God. Inside I may have chuckled a little but told him I would and went home to tell Sylvia about our conversation.
In telling her about what this acquaintance had said to me, she asked me how I felt about it. I told her my thoughts and said I'd like to go for it. She said we needed to pray about it. Reluctantly I agreed. Funny thing was that after we prayed I really started having a good feeling about it and felt like things were starting to turn around.
I started making phone calls and researching all I could about the towing business. I found out that I would need to invest in an impound yard and that was going to cost some money. I didn't have money to do something like that. Sylvia said lets pray about it. Are you seeing the pattern here? I doubt, she wants to pray! I agreed to pray, and God showed me a couple of things that I could sell to come up with the funds to pay for the fence and signs for the impound yard. I already had the land, I only needed to fence which was gonna cost around $600. By this time I was willing to do whatever because my faith was growing little by little, but I still had the attitude of 'what the heck, I got nothing more to lose!'
Let me back up just a little and kind of explain where we are at in the whole scheme of things. The fence was going up around the early part of October. We had already run out of money a few times and God provided for every need in miraculous ways. Whether it was through people at The Church House (you would be amazed at how giving those people are...ALL OF THEM), family members (and I'm talking about some who had no idea we were in need), or checks that would come in the mail from sources unknown to us. I am very serious! We had one check from a very unexpected source for over $700. The more this happened the more my faith was being built. Sylvia would pray and tell me to just trust God and He would supply. This happened over a dozen times in the last five months. At some point in October I just gave in and admitted that God is God. I started to enjoy going to church, learning more about this God that was providing all my needs. I started having a family night with my wife and two girls, Faith and Emma. We would turn off the tv, read the bible to each other, play games, write down on paper what blessings God had supplied us with (you must do this. So much power in this), and just talk about Jesus. Through this family night I started to really grow my faith. I was becoming invincible! Then something happened.
All of this growing I was doing was about to be put to the test. It became evident that I was not going to be able to get a tow truck. Credit was a looming problem, high cost of tow trucks and equipment, unavailability of used tow trucks, and the list goes on. I got angry, and Sylvia said lets pray and trust.
We did, and I was still angry for a couple of days. Then something moved in me. Years ago before I started doubting Gods existence and had a slight relationship with Him, He had laid on my heart a ministry. It was simply giving food to the needy. After my second day of being angry God stirred this ministry in my heart again. I sent Sylvia a text message and told her we were going to start a ministry. She replied with 'Oh REALLY?!' I said yes and Feeding Hope Ministries named after a daughter (Hope) we lost due to being born premature, was conceived. We began work on December 1, 2012. To find out what this ministry is all about just check it out at www.FeedingHopeMinistries.org.
We quickly got busy trying to get canned food donations for our Christmas food drive and I was completely focused on that knowing now that God is going to provide ALL of our needs. Then on the night of December 5, 2012 around midnight a longtime close friend sent me a message on Facebook and said, "if you're still up and it's not too late, call me."
I got up from the computer, grabbed my phone and walked out on the front porch to call him. He told me that he had a friend who was getting out of the towing business because of some personal problems and that he had his truck for sale and priced extremely well! He gave me his number and the next day I called the guy.
He told me that he did have a truck for sale, but he had already promised it to someone else, but is that guy had not brought him the money by Friday he would let me buy it. I agreed and waited until Friday night to call him back.
I called him and he said the guy hasn't brought him the money and that he wanted to give him more time because he was a really good friend. I said ok and called him the next day which was Sunday. SAME STORY! He then said I'll just call you when I'm ready to sell it.
Well, I didn't get mad this time, but I said to God that if it was to be it was gonna be all Him that would make it happen.
I gave up and stopped pushing. I knew it wasn't meant to be and moved on.
Still working in the ministry, food donations coming in, volunteers volunteering and things in general are moving in a positive direction. Tuesday comes and my buddy that told me about the tow truck calls again and says that I can get in the repo business with him by making a few adjustment to my pick up truck. This sounded like something I could do, and keep committed to moving our ministry forward at the same time. So after praying about it and discussing it with Sylvia, she and I decided to do it. Then 15 minutes later the phone rings. It's the guy that wouldn't let me buy his tow truck, and now he wants to sell it to me. I told him that I was no longer interested because I was going a different direction now. I hung up and was so confused.
You see, the night before we had paid bills, and when we got done paying bills we were down to our last $100 again and still no regular income. Even though God was still providing our needs, it was easy to get nervous at that last few dollars.
I felt like we had been trusting God in everything and that I knew how he was leading in this new direction, but now this?! I was torn in an incredible way. Sylvia and I prayed again. I asked God to make it incredibly obvious that it was meant for me to buy the tow truck. I said that I would go look at it in the morning and that if my name was on it I would know that I was to buy it. This is called putting a fleece before The Lord and it is scriptural. Gideon did it. It is nothing more than asking God for some help with big decisions.
I get to the guys house around 8:25 and knock on the door. He is not there so I began looking over the truck. I want you to keep in mind that I do not know this man, and my family has never had any dealings with him. Also he lives over thirty miles from me. But as I walk around to the front of his truck I notice something under the grass that catches my eye and stuns me. It is my last name Vaughn. I kick a little grass off of the rest of what I now see to be a business card and it says Gardner! It was the business card in the picture at the top of this story. Folks my name is Brady GARDNER VAUGHN! My dad used to tune pianos in the area back in the eighties and nineties. When he would finish tuning one he would write the date on his business card and drop it into the piano so that the next guy to tune it would know how long it had been since the last tuning. Although my name wasn't exactly on the truck it was three feet in front of it. The hair stood up on my neck for the rest of the day. Later on while paying the guy for the tow truck I asked him if he owned a piano and he said yes. He had bought it from a church 9 years ago, and it has been in his house since then. God knew 20 years ago that I was gonna need His help today and He made a way!
It is only a God thing that that card got from their piano to the front of that truck and just happened to be there on the day I asked God for a little business advice. All I can say is that over the last five months He has been drawing me nearer and nearer to Him and helping me to learn to lean on Him for everything, and by learning to lean on Him I was able to recognize Him talking to me in a physical way with my dad's card. I am humbled and overwhelmed that the creator of the entire universe thought enough of me to bring me to such an awareness of Him.
These past five months have not happened just to bring me to this one moment that took place today, but they have happened to prepare me for a lifetime of moments like this, and my friends, this is only the first of many more testimonies of this nature because He has taught me to lean on Him. I encourage you to do the same. I am so excited that this is merely the beginning of His light shining through me.
AIN'T GOD GREAT!?!