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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Real Faith: How It Works

Last December, a man that I'd been counseling introduced me to a former colleague of his.  He said he "knew that the two of us would like each other."  So I met this gentleman for lunch and we did indeed find much in common.  It was quite a pleasure to meet him, and I left the lunch thinking that this is someone I'd like to stay networked with from now on.

A few days after my blind date, a package arrived in the mail from my new friend.  It was a brand new book, with a note that said he felt led to send it to me.  I have to admit that I found that rather odd.  I mean, why would someone I just met go out and buy a book, much less go to the trouble of mailing it to me?  It didn't make sense.  At any rate, I put the book on the nightstand by my bed, in the pile of other things I want to read when I have time.
A few months later, I finally got to read this particular book.  It was mostly a story of George Muller's ministry and his faith.  Overall the book was a good read.  But one aspect of it was truly riveting for me.  It was the fact that throughout his entire life, George Muller never did any fund raising for his ministries or the multiple orphanages he'd set up and ran.  Mind you, Muller was a man with a big vision for ministry, a big heart, and expensive ministries to run.  So the fact that prayer was his only method for fund raising seemed quite remarkable indeed.

I can honestly say that I hadn't known George Muller's story ... at least not that particular aspect of it it.  And as I completed reading, it turned out to be the most helpful book I've ever read in terms of casting vision for my personal faith.  Let me explain about that.

This year (2012) has been our worst financial year ever.  My wife and I have large commitments to ministry, and whatever could go wrong financially did.  It seems like we've taken one (financial) blow after another --- with money just gushing from our home.  So it was rather timely that I'd read a book which shifted my paradigm with regard to funding ministry commitments.

God showed me, through the book on George Muller, that I've mostly leaned on myself for our needs.  It would be fair to say that I've treated prayer more like insurance in case my own efforts might fail. That would be - in case you're not clear - sin.  Seriously.  It smacks of pride, and lack of faith in God's provision and timing.  At the very least.

Through reading this one little book, I've got a new perspective.  It's one that I very much needed to acquire.  I'm busy now repenting of my sin, and trying to quiet the noise of my financially demanding life ... so that I can focus on God and His provision ... which has always been perfect. 

As I look back now, I see that perhaps the blind date lunch with the stranger in December was not so ironic after all.  Instead, it was pretty providential --- with the apparent anointing from God.  The Lord knew that we were fixing to walk through the stormiest financial period of our lives.  And He knew that if I tried to go through that on my own power, I'd fail and become very overwhelmed.  So in his perfect provision, God used this stranger to bring me the story that would help me find amazing peace in the midst of the (financial) storms.

The Lord's Prayer says, "Give us this day our daily bread ..."  I've come to understand that this is precisely what I can expect from God.

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