In my mid-thirties I prayed about going to seminary full-time with a wife and four children to support. We embarked on that adventure with faith that God would provide as we trusted Him. I shared one of many stories of God’s provision last month. I want to share another one. However, what built our faith wasn’t so much God’s provision for our financial needs, but the way He taught us that He cares for everything in life and can reveal Himself any way He wishes as we cast all our cares on Him.
A friend and mentor once planted a seed of truth in my mind: “Every relationship is an opportunity to love, and every situation is an opportunity to trust.” When this same friend talked with me about going to seminary, he remarked, “I think this step of faith is about your learning to trust God as your provider.” He was spot on! Little did he or we know then that God would call us to spend most of our lives in a non-profit ministry that is dependent on trusting God as our provider.
The first year of this adventure, we rented a house. God provided just enough money each month to cover our living expenses and moved many people to supply needs such as clothing for the kids, a van for our family to use, and many other incidentals. I worked on the days I could, either in ministry at New Covenant Baptist Church, at Jones Truck Lines, or B&C Sheet Metal. We kept our expectations and level of living low, pinched pennies, worked and served others hard, and prayed often. Our faith grew in the process.
As we entered the second year, the thought came to me that we should purchase a house instead of rent. The idea was incredulous to me for many reasons. One, how could any bank or loan company give us a loan when I only worked one day a week,bringing in a meager $65? Two, how could we get a house adequate for a family of six that would have good resale value? Three, how could we meet the responsibilities not only for house payments, but also for taxes, insurance, and upkeep? It seemed impossible to me! And here is where that wonderful little biblical phrase comes to mind . . . “but God.”
When I asked a real estate broker in our church if she thought that buying a house in our financial position was possible, to my surprise, she expressed that if God was in it, He could bring it to pass. Alma and I cast our care about our housing upon the Lord and asked her to begin to pray with us and look. Within a few weeks, hurdle number one was overcome. She found a seller of a home that would be adequate for us who was willing to hold the note for the entire price of the house. We were shocked and excited. Our faith grew, but now I wondered what the cost would be and whether or not we could afford it.
Well, that was a tough one. It’s one thing to have a job with a known income adequate to supply your needs, but a totally different thing to have absolutely no idea of where most of your income is going to come from (except the $65 a week and a known amount from two people who were supporting us monthly). We discovered that the lowest monthly payment we could arrange was $100 more than the present rental price. We had no idea where that money was going to come from. We already didn’t know where the money we needed each month was going to come from! So when the day came for us to make a go or no-go decision on the house, all we knew to do was to cast that care on the Lord and wait for Him to do something that would give us faith that we were to go forward with the purchase. We shared our situation with a few close friends and family members, asking them to pray for us, but we did not share any of the financial details. No one but God knew that the decision was to be made that day. If God did nothing to make His will known, then we knew we were not to presume on the Lord and others and commit ourselves to the contract.
Around 5 p.m., out of the blue, I received a call from a man in our church who taught at the local high school. He was not a close acquaintance, so it was a little strange when he asked if he could come to see me in the next half hour. He didn’t tell me on the phone why he wanted to talk with me. As we sat together in our family room, he explained what had happened to him in the last hour. He had taken his car in for repair and the cost for the work bugged him. As he complained in his heart about the inconvenience and expense, the following thought came into his mind: “If you are going to complain about this, take $100 to Norm Wakefield tonight.” He said, “So, here is the $100, and I have one question to ask you. Why did I have to bring this to you tonight?”
After picking my jaw up off the floor, I informed him of our situation and the care I had given to the Lord that morning, asking Him to do something to confirm that it was His will that we purchase the house. I had asked Him, “How are You going to supply another $100 a month when we already don’t know how You’re meeting our needs each month? Please help us to know if we can trust You for this.” We both sat there stunned, but excited. God was working in both of our lives in a remarkable way! He showed both this man and me that He cares about everything in our lives and is working through everything in our lives to glorify His name.
Consider some of the details the Lord was administrating: the man’s car breakdown, the cost of the repair above his expectation, his attitude regarding the expense, the timing of our decision on the house, the exact amount needed above our present supply, his hearing what he was to do coupled with my hearing what to pray, his trusting God’s supply to not only cover his repair costs but also the unexpected, unbudgeted giving of $100. I’m sure there’s much more that God was orchestrating than these few things. My brother in Christ and I concluded our meeting by expressing our gratitude to God and worshiping Him for His incredible providence and care for us.
Do you have some cares you need to cast on the Lord? Do you need to see Him work in your life to reveal His will for you? Are you willing to wait upon the Lord and trust Him? Have you surrendered your life and your will to Him? There is a big difference between exercising faith and presuming on the Lord. We presume when we move forward on decisions that are not explicitly addressed in Scripture without first seeing God work to prove His will about them. We must learn to trust Him by surrendering our own desires and will and believing He can make His will known through the relationships and situations in our lives. I hope you’ll be encouraged by Peter’s words in his first epistle, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:6-7). Remember: every relationship is an opportunity to love; and every situation is an opportunity to trust.