Monday, November 24, 2014

Living a Life of Simple Faith

Just want to let you know that I DO hear you.  Sweet (and highly patient, I might add) homeschool moms have asked for some specific educational topics to be blogged.  Other moms have asked for a blog post specifically detailing what my herbal tactics are for cold and flu season.  Other mommas have been asking me for over a year to share how I create a cozy ambiance that makes the home feel so...well, homey.  And extended family members just want to know what the kiddos are up to in Hill Country.  I hear all of you sweet, loving (did I mention patient) people!  And I do have many blog posts in the wings.  They swim inside my mind daily.  Really.

But this blog post isn't about any of those things.  This topic fairly burns within my soul, and it flows in torrents.  Somebody needs this today.  

Many years ago, we studied the life of George Mueller, and a month ago we picked up his biography and met him all over again.  George was an ordinary man.  Well, actually, he was a lying thief who gambled excessively.  He was in trouble with his father, in trouble with his school, in trouble with the law.  He was just flat-out trouble.  And then one day, God just got ahold of him.  It was like a Saul-to-Paul life transformation.  God does the impossible like that.  Messy people don't put Him off.  So, George Mueller met God in a real way, and it changed him.

George Mueller

Long story short:  George is reading in his Bible that if we put God's Kingdom first, then God will take care of our needs.  He realizes that many people agree with that, but he didn't know anyone who actually lived it out.  So, he decided to be the one to do this thing.  He wanted his life to be evidence that God really does mean what He says and that He would provide for every need if we simply put His Kingdom first.  And he did live this out.  His life is filled with thousands of these incidences.

It started with a simple step of faith.  George decided to become a missionary, and his father was against it and refused to pay for his schooling.  George realized that this was his chance to begin trusting God to provide for his needs.  He decided not to tell a single soul about his needs and instead simply pray.  He asked God to provide him with a job.  Two hours later, some men knocked on his door and asked if he could teach them German, and they said they'd pay him 4 times the going rate for tutors/translators.  And just like that, God met the needs of one man who decided to believe Him.  He sat in awe of this God who really DOES hear and really DOES answer when we trust Him with all our hearts.

Another more well-known incident occurred many years later when George Mueller was running an orphanage.  Two hundred children gathered around the dining tables for breakfast one morning, but there was not a single crumb to eat in the orphanage.  He still believed in trusting God for all his needs and never letting his needs be known to other people.  So, he told the children, "Let's pray and thank God for the food He is going to provide for us this morning."  He led them in a simple prayer, asking God to provide breakfast and then thanking Him for His provision.  HOW SIMPLE.  And yet not easy, right?  If we are honest with ourselves, wouldn't we have even a tinge of doubt (what if God doesn't provide, and I just told all these naive children that God would provide???  should I just go knock on some doors and ask for some food in case God doesn't come through this time??).  Right?  Isn't that how our little talks go inside our minds sometimes?

But George Mueller had complete, unwavering faith in this God of his.  God was more than just a fairy tale or a grandpa in the sky or a rigid churchy being that likes rituals.  God was real to George.  God had said that He would provide for all our needs if we simply put His Kingdom as our priority.  George lived that out.  He served orphans, which was God's Kingdom work.  And He trusted God to be faithful to do His part, which was to provide for all of George's and the orphans' needs.  So, he led the orphans in prayer, expecting (**key word**) God to provide.  And guess what happened?  When he finished praying there was a knock at the door.  A baker had been awakened in the middle of the night with a feeling that the orphans would need food, so he had been up for many hours baking bread.  He handed trays of fresh bread to George.  Then...another knock on the door.  This time it was a milkman whose wagon wheel had broken right in front of the orphanage, and he needed to unload all his milk in order to get the weight off the wagon and fix the wheel.  He asked if the orphanage could use the milk.  God provided breakfast for every single child...and in time for them to make it to school without being late.  God provided JUST. LIKE. THAT.

Orphans at the orphanage sustained by George Mueller's prayers

We hear stories like that, and we think it's amazing.  But quite honestly, we think of them as just that...inspiring stories...something that happened to someone else at some other point in history.  Like most people living in George Mueller's time, we don't actually practice that level of faith ourselves.  We don't live in the faith realm like Abraham or Elijah or George Mueller did.  The Bible even says that when Jesus returns, true faith will be rare.  And so it is. 

But somewhere along the line, I decided that I wanted to be one of the rare ones who lives by faith.  Not the kind that sit around and read books about it or talk about it or nod their heads in agreement about it.  But the kind who will flesh it out.  If George Mueller can do it, so can I.  Which sounds good, but oh the trials that come to the one who decides to live on the thin air of faith!  God must develop that faith, and He does it through introducing impossible circumstances, fiery trials, lonely roads, sometimes deepest of hurts...and when we are lying on the floor face-down in bitter tears, He asks simply, "Do you really trust Me?"  THIS is the training ground for faith.  And it is not for the faint of heart.  It will rip out every human prop you have and then pose the question that you thought you knew the answer to but all of a sudden it feels rather scary: DO YOU REALLY TRUST HIM?  
"To learn strong faith is to endure great trials.  I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings."
                                                              ---George Mueller

I had decided to have full faith in God and to try to walk this narrow road.  And then God led me to a ministry that seeks to live out this same kind of faith.  I have joined a wonderful team that runs its ministry in much the same way that George ran his simple faith.  While most ministries have a 5-year plan and a system for everything, this ministry simply prays.  They pray for God to bring to them people who need Him.  They pray for God to provide for every need of each person that He sends them.  They pray...and then they trust Him...completely.  Very, very simple.  And how does this look in real life?  Well, though no 2 weeks look alike, I will share with you 2 stories from the past month.

The first story is of a little girl who came to the ministry office with her mom.  This is a precious family who has real needs.  The little girl announces that her birthday is in 3 days.  A sweet lady at the ministry asked her what she wanted for her birthday.  This little girl said, "My birthday gift was that my mom got a job, and now we can have money to buy food."  Ministry lady asks her, "Is there anything you'd like to ask God for your birthday?"  The little girl thinks and then says she'd like to ask God to give her a bike.  So, they bow their heads right there and ask God to provide a bike for her birthday.  They just asked and then had faith that God not only heard but had answered this child's request.  Simple.  The ministry didn't go out in search of a bike.  They did not tell anyone about their need.  Instead, they simply did what George Mueller did: prayed and trusted God to provide.  One day goes by, two days go by...and on the morning of the little girl's birthday, a text is sent to the ministry lady's phone.  It was a photo of some bikes that someone was donating, and the text said, "Do you think you can find homes for these bikes?"  And, you guessed it (because you're catching on!)...yes, one of those bikes was the exact size bike for this little girl (and a pretty princess bike to boot!!).  

Photo that was sent via text the morning of the little girl's birthday.  God sent her the pink bike.

The second story I was able to be part of...  I was shopping in Walmart last week, and I had a pressing feeling that I needed to buy blankets to donate to the ministry.  I have a certain kind of blanket that I really love, and I went searching for it.  I found these blankets and put them in my shopping cart (which you sweet Georgians call buggies).  I put in 1, 2, 3 blankets.  Three seemed like a good number to, my cart was getting full.  So, I walked on.  But, God told me to go back and get a 4th blanket.  Once we are in tune with His voice, we KNOW it.  It's unmistakable.  And He was telling me to get a 4th blanket.  I argued for just a split second, because my cart was getting full...and three just seemed like a good number of blankets to donate to the ministry.   But, I've learned the hard way that if I argue with God, I usually end up awake at 3am with regrets for my disobedience.  Been there many times!  And I do like to sleep peacefully at 3am, so I decided to go back and get that 4th blanket.

The 4 blankets God told me to buy

Three days later I took the blankets to the ministry office.  I hand the director 2 big Walmart bags filled with the 4 blankets and explain to her that God was very precise that I needed to buy 4 blankets.  She looks at me, smiles, and goes to get her files.  She pulls out the file of a family and tells me that the mom had come into the ministry office a week earlier asking for us to pray specifically that God would provide each of her 4 girls with a warm blanket.   Their house was cold, and the girls were sharing a blanket.  This was a need she had humbly brought before God in prayer.  She had actually called the ministry office mid-week to ask if the blankets had been provided, and they told her not yet but that God could be trusted to provide.  They encouraged her to ask in faith, believing that God had already provided.  And there I was standing in the same office where prayer had gone up in faith, and I had the opportunity of being there when this sweet mom arrived to pick up the blankets that God had specifically told me to buy.  I'm not sure how many miracles you've ever been a part of, but it fills you with this intense awe.  Everyone just stands back, and it radiates: "Look what God did here!"  

Card to go with the blankets

This is real.  God is real.  And He absolutely still moves in miraculous ways.  This isn't reserved for the special or the elite or those with big spiritual guns.  This is wide open to any of His children.  He simply asks that we BELIEVE.  And the ones who take Him at His word and simply believe...THOSE are the ones He will wow with these miracles and answered prayers.    

"Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible.  There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible.  Faith begins where man's power ends."  
                                   --George Mueller