For Free


The waves of the Mediterranean ebbed and pulled like a reflection of my soul’s longing for God’s presence. I prayed like I had never prayed before. My next stop would be Madrid, Spain where I would teach English. I asked for God’s provision. And, as I watched the hues of blue and green waves crashing along the beach, God said: “Do not worry about housing. I will provide a place for you for free.”

“Yeah, okay Aaron,” I thought. I kept praying. The more I prayed, however, the stronger God’s voice became. “Do not worry about housing. I will provide a place for you for free.”

Tired of feeling like I lived out fake faith, not truly trusting, I knew this was a time to activate crazy faith. As soon as I got to Madrid, I went to the Adventist Spanish Union’s headquarters. In broken Spanish, I explained my situation. “The pastor of the church in the suburb you’ll be teaching in is in the office right now! He can help,” the receptionist said. I just knew I was on the precipice of provision. The pastor, however, basically told me: “Good luck with that.” I had never felt so betrayed. I had taken a leap of faith. I had trusted God to fulfill His promise, just to have the door shut in my face, by a pastor, no less. “God, I don’t know what You’re doing, but I
trust You.” I said this over and over. Even if I did not believe it, I spoke it until I did.

Then I got a phone call from my former boss in the states. He asked me if I was homesick because they were firing my replacement immediately. They were in a pinch. Would I be willing to come home? I dejectedly agreed. Was I really going to give up this opportunity in Spain to go back to my podunk town in Idaho? I picked up my phone to call back, apologize, and tell him that I could not come home. As soon as I picked up my phone, however, I received a message from a former coworker and friend. It read: “Hey, my husband and I have a fully furnished, vacant apartment. If you come home, you can live there for free.” For free. I caught the next flight home, returning to my tiny town in the mountains of Idaho, on God’s fulfilled promise. After such a blatant fulfillment of His promise, shouldn’t I be happy?

As the weeks moved on, I slipped into a darkness I had never before experienced. Depressed, I felt like a failure. Here I was, back in my hometown, living in a coworker’s apartment, teaching at the same high school from which I graduated. Is this it? Isn’t there more to life? Fooled by the voice of the enemy.

Months later, I received a message from an American teacher I had met in the program in Spain. COVID-19 forced the program to drop all of its American teachers. All of the other American teachers were left with a difficult decision: Risk staying in a foreign country that was closing its borders with hopes of being able to get a salary past spring or fly home immediately.

When I got her message, God’s presence was palpable. It all made sense. It was God’s provision. I was given many housing options – but none of them lined up with His promise: For free. I could have ignored this promise. I could have stayed.

Had I taken one of the many cheap housing choices, excusing it away as “Well, it’s inexpensive. That’s close enough,” I would have been stuck in Spain during a pandemic. I would have been, in time, forced to fly home to no home and left with no job and no source of income, but I trusted. I went out on a limb of faith believing that God would fulfill His promise, and He did.

God’s provision does not make sense in the moment. It is counterintuitive. Active faith is never easy. If only we would trust, if only we would take the leap, how much more beautiful, how much more powerful would our testimonies be? Opportunities abound. For free.

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