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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Will You Have What You Want?

I faced that question 39 years ago when my husband and I accepted God’s invitation into full-time ministry. It aroused a fear. Perhaps one that had always been there, but now, exposed. If I relinquish total control of my life to God, “will I have what I want?”

We sold our comfortable, suburban home in Wisconsin to become apartment dwellers in St. Paul, Minnesota so John could complete his studies at Northwestern Bible College.  We traded in our fancy car for the least expensive car manufactured. This new lifestyle launched 6 years of college and graduate school, followed by multiple moves around the U.S. and Canada. We helped plant new churches and served struggling ones. Raising a growing family of 4 children posed continuous financial challenges.

As Charles Dickens put it, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” It was the age of frequently wondering ‘will we have enough’; it was an epoch of learning about God’s promises and testing His trustworthiness. My favorite, go-to promise was “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). When I wasn't trusting, I caught myself worrying, coveting, lacking generosity and just feeling over-all unsettled.

During my husband’s seminary days, we rented a cottage from a wealthy, tall, stout Norwegian widow. This 2 bedroom, drafty cottage had been built when her 400 acres of land was farmed by hired hands. It didn't matter to us that she called it “servant’s quarters.” We gave thanks. It fit into our meager seminary budget.

Before entering seminary, my husband and I bargained with God. I committed to being a stay-at-home mom with our 2-year-old son. John would take seminary classes during the day and work 3 am-8 am at UPS, (which paid the rent, health insurance, and put food on the table). God’s part, well, “You’re going to have to provide tuition money.” Other seminary couples waited to have children. Most wives worked to put their hubby through school.

We were taught God loves it when His kids trust Him. It gives Him opportunities to prove Himself trustworthy, to keep His promises.

John’s second year of seminary, my confidence to trust God in matters of practical provision finally grew constant. I realized God would provide for every need not for every want. Learning not to center life around money caused less fretting and more contentment.

Then, a big test came. We faced an unexpected car repair expense of $400. No transportation meant no work and no school. Credit card debt was never considered a fix, only prayer.  

A few days later, we received checks in the mail from two young teens, strangers.  One girl was from the little country church we had attended in Wisconsin three years earlier. She sold a cow she had raised and gave us half her profit. The other girl babysat for our close friend’s family. She felt impressed to share her babysitting money with us! God had us covered. He had been working behind the scenes to meet our need.

After that I wish I could say I never worried about provision for our material needs. But God has never let us down. His promise is certain. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). During 6 years of private college and graduate school, our God provided $17,000, all of John’s tuition, through family, friends and strangers.

God knows your needs and mine. He asks us to stand on His promises and confidently ask Him to provide.


“I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4:12-13 MSG



6 comments:

  1. Illuminating content, Pam. What I know is what God's grace has been and will always be pouring in my heart: His grace is more than sufficient. Claiming & owning His promise delights obedience in my heart.

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  2. Thank you and more blessings to you!

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  3. This is a beautiful testimony of God's powerful provision! When the Lord is our Shepherd we do not want for any good thing! Thank you for sharing!

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  4. Pam thank you for sharing your story, it really helps to hear someone's testimony of God's plan being fulfilled in a life story.
    Patty

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    1. You are welcome, Patty. It is a joy to share about God's faithfulness!

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