Autumn Rains

"And so be glad, children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, because he has given you the right amount of autumn rain, and he will cause the rain to fall for you, both the early rain and the later rain as before." Joel 2:23

It’s been a hot summer here in Dallas and all over America. A drought has been upon us. But the autumn rains are coming. Can you feel it?

This is a story I wrote in 2011 about events that happened in 2006. I believe the time and season we are in now calls for a new level of rainmaking. Are you ready?

Reign Change -

It was a typical Wednesday night service. Our church’s eloquent and beautiful Pastor Amie had just given us a sermon on “Reign Change.” She was speaking from I Kings about the mighty prophet Elijah.

Used by God during a time of progressive moral decay of Israel, God sent a fiery man to expose the sin of his people and to call the nation once more back into the light of his mercy and love. His life was full of exploits, amidst two very powerful opponents in Ahab and Jezebel. One of Israel’s vilest kings, Ahab sought to establish Baal worship as the official religion of his realm.

His Queen, Jezebel, was the daughter of the King of Sidon, the high priest of Baal worship. Following in her father’s footsteps, Jezebel set out to destroy Yahweh, and in the process, kill all of God’s prophets with Ahab’s passive consent. She intimidated with the spirits of manipulation and control.

But what she didn’t count on was a game changer and Reign-Changer - an obedient, prayerful and courageous servant of the Most High God, who would forever alter the course of Israel’s history. Elijah’s submitted persistence allowed God to be Sovereign so that darkness might be overthrown.

As Pastor Amie spoke about the influence we gain when we truly Reign, I was both inspired and touched by the Holy Spirit. My middle son is named Elijah. As I listened again to the story of this great prophet, it hit home. I had birthed an Elijah and I was reminded about the calling in his life.

After the service I was so moved, I went straight to the altar. All I could do was pace and pray, pace and pray. I felt like a lioness about to claim my territory. I can honestly say I have never felt such an urgency, an anointing and a surge of power.

As I prayed, I was reminded of a time years earlier, when God had so lovingly used me to literally shift the atmosphere. As Elijah called down both fire and rain from Heaven, so God had once used me to bring about a great victory for the company I was working for at the time. Although not that long before, it had seemed like a lifetime earlier. I recalled every detail.

It was the summer of 2006. A hot, dry and oppressive August, we hadn’t had rain in Dallas for days. I was employed at the time as Corporate Development Executive for Zig Ziglar. While many people know Mr. Ziglar as an author of 29 books, the father of public speaking, and as Dave Ramsey calls him, ‘a national treasure,’ most people do not know that he has a training company, Ziglar, Inc., that boasts a client list of many Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and nonprofit associations. The relatively small company with a huge brand and span of influence, with just 25 full time employees, trains people worldwide in the disciplines of personal growth, sales, leadership and customer service.

For many months, I had known a large, seven figure deal was coming. I had been working for six years with the United States National Guard. Beginning with teaching recruiters in just one state, word had steadily spread across the country that the Ziglar training was making a positive impact. Some states had reported as much as a twenty-five percent increase in their productivity as a result of partnering with our firm. Eventually, word had spread to the Chief of the National Guard Recruiters’ Schoolhouse.

Knowing a relationship was developing, a fellow colleague of mine, Krish Dhanam, and I had just returned from the Schoolhouse in Little Rock, AR where we had enjoyed a day getting to know the schoolhouse team. So when he called a few days later on a bright sunny day in May, I wasn’t totally surprised to hear from him. I was, however, surprised with the conversation that followed:

“Jill”, he said, “we have been so impressed with the results of the Ziglar training, we want to make it a part of our standard curriculum here at the schoolhouse. Can you please send me a proposal for what it would cost for you to develop a custom course, specifically for National Guard recruiters, to train our entire force?”

There were two phrases he used in his sentence that peaked my interest, ‘custom course’ and ‘entire force.’

Knowing that the National Guard had over 4,000 recruiters nationwide and would be hiring many more over the next several years, I had a good feeling that the proposal would be big. Sometimes deals like this took years to complete, so I was conservative and contained my level of excitement.

His next sentence also took me off guard, “And I need it in a week. Do you think you could do that?”

My heart thumped on the other end of the phone. I knew this account well. I had spent countless hours travelling from state to state to see our training implemented on a grass roots level. Starting from the top and going down would make it so much simpler and better. “Sure, I can get it to you in a week, Chief. No problem.”

I hung up the phone and spent the next two hours talking to our CEO, Tom Ziglar.

Together we put together a plan we thought would work. I called back the Chief and told him the ball park range we were looking at - well into the millions. I held my breath as I gave him the number. “No problem,” he said. “Sounds like something that will fit in our budget. Let’s do it.”

For the next week our team at Ziglar worked feverishly getting the proposal together, ensuring we could deliver what we were promising.

That had been in May, and now three months later, it was August.

No rain, no contract signed, no promise fulfilled.

Working with the United States government can be a tedious process. Contracting regulations prevent government decision makers from actually signing a contract. That must be done in Washington D.C. Budgets for military organizations like the National Guard are determined by the Department of Defense. And if Congress meets and declares it – they can be cut at any time. All potential contracts must be ‘put out to bid.’ This process requires government agencies to post their requirements so that, within a set amount of time, other companies have a fair and equitable right to bid. The contracting agent must take all bids into account, and then they (not the ultimate user) will decide which firm gets the contract.

There is an exception to this requirement – called a sole source agreement. These agreements are allowed when there are no other companies who can provide the product or service which the government agency needs. Sole Source Agreements required approval at the highest level within the National Guard.

(I know, that is a lot of mumbo jumbo for – it takes a lot of work to get a government contract of this size and magnitude signed).

In our case, Ziglar was the owner of a proprietary software, so that alone was working to qualify us for the sole source agreement.

Over the years I had become the in-house Ziglar expert on government contracts, but with this contract we were entering unchartered territory. It was a grueling process as we sought to understand the government red tape and submit the right paperwork. All of our i’s had to be dotted and our t’s crossed.

As a company, our fate was in the hands of a high level general and of a contracting officer – both whom we did not know and could not build a relationship with – both whom were ruling from their kingdoms in Washington D.C.

One thing we did know – the new fiscal year started October 1, and if not spent, the prior year’s budget would be lost.

As we waited during the long, hot summer, we continued to pray.

During an early morning prayer session with my prayer partner, Stephanie, God gave her a scripture that would become my resting place over the next months:

Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs is like a watercourse wherever he pleases.”

No matter the lack of control I felt in this process, the Lord could turn the heart of the king at any time.

Our little company began to dream. Although we had produced multi millions in revenue before, it had not been done all in one contract, and paid all in one chunk.

We knew that bringing in this type of revenue would allow us to hire more people, get our company out of debt and invest in our future growth.

Although generally positive throughout the process, there were still times of doubt, when not everyone at the firm believed the deal would come in. There were lots of naysayers with their limited vision and skeptical ways of thinking.

But, God had given me a word – He was about to shift the atmosphere.

It was about to rain.

So, in that dry August when it hadn’t rai