Two weeks ago I spoke at church about giving up everything for the Kingdom. Cristi and I have been led by God into this place where we give up most of what is comfortable and familiar and homey and give ourselves to helping the poor and the afflicted, all for the Kingdom of God. We have walked this road, step by step, eyes wide open. But, sometimes the cold, hard reality hits.
At work this week, I was struck by the fact that we are giving up our “safety nets”. Here in the US, the land of opportunity, we rely on our safety nets. When things get hard financially, we have opportunities to help ourselves. We might be able to work some overtime, find a second job, or even get a better job. If things get tough enough, there is government assistance or help organizations. I have always given lip service to trusting God for everything, but in reality, the land of opportunity is always there. It provides a safety net if God doesn’t come through.
What struck me is that in less than four weeks, we will be walking the tight rope without a net. As missionaries on volunteer visas in South Africa, we cannot work. If things get hard, I can’t deliver pizza or work the night shift at the Kroger warehouse. We will be thousands of miles from home in a place where we only know a couple dozen people. Wow! Swinging from the trapeze without a net.
Of course this is nothing new for God. The Bible is full of stories of people following Him, regardless of how crazy, and of HIm coming through each and every time. He fed millions of people for 40 years as they wandered through the desert. Elijah was fed by ravens. The disciples followed homeless Jesus around for 3 years after giving up their occupations. Each time conventional wisdom was probably not on their side, but God was.
We aren’t fully supported and we find a peace in this. This is where God has led us. We have been warned, cautioned and advised. Some have prayed for doors to close and others have encouraged people to pray for us because we have “inadequate support”. To which I think, though the whole world be against me, if God is on my side, I am happy with “inadequate support”. Imagine Elijah telling a fellow prophet, “God had me prophesy about this drought, and now he wants me to go to a desert ravine” and the prophet replying, “Don’t go. With this drought you will have inadequate support.” Or after Jesus calls Peter and Andrew to drop their nets their father says, “Don’t follow that homeless rabbai. You have inadequate support.”
We are seeking the kind of faith we find in the Bible. But, how can we live normal 21st century, middle class American lives and expect to find an extraordinary God? We have to give up our safety nets. That is where we will find Jehovah Jireh, the LORD my provider.
But, the realization that this next step is so close is kind of scary. (Of course, it is not an act of faith without the uncertainty.) We wrestle with the tension, knowing God will provide and also knowing that if He doesn’t we are in deep, deep doo-doo.
We have already seen Him provide in amazing ways with a house and furniture. We are certain that He has a vehicle or two already waiting for us. God will continue to show Himself to be faithful and He will get the glory, especially because of the doubts.
God is amazing in how He orchestrates the details. I was telling Cristi about my thoughts and discussing them with her, as I was doing some reading. Wouldn’t you know, that a few minutes later I read Psalm 46:10, which is about the kingdom of Judah not worrying about the threats from the Assyrians, the most powerful nation in the world at the time. God was going to protect His people. It was appropriate for me just the same. “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
It seems that if God can save Judah from impending doom, He can take care of the needs of a family of seven in a foreign country.