For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.
Stephen sat nervously scrolling through the notes on his tablet. He wasn’t sure how to begin, though the expectant faces gathered around the room had come to hear what he had to say. An elder at his home church had invited those interested to come over this evening and listen to Stephen describe the mission he believed God was calling him to in Germany. He began to describe how he had become connected with the group of believers who were working with refugees in Eastern Europe and about how they were serving war-weary men, women and children. He explained what he expected to be doing and his timeline for getting to the field. The members of his church knew his testimony, his training, and his faithfulness to serve the church over the years. Everything seemed to be lining up for this mission, everything but the finances.
"I’m still far from reaching my goal of $5500 for the trip. Once I’m there I’ll need $1800 of committed monthly support to stay in the country." Stephen went on to describe the high price of an airline ticket for overseas travel, the steep cost of rent and the contribution to the ministry he would need to commit to bring with him. He explained how he had cut every cost he could think of
" But if I can’t come up with this money, I may not be able to go. Everything is just so expensive, I’m afraid it may not work out. " His presentation ended with a note of discouragement.
Like Stephen, do we say that we believe God for provision, but then act in a way that denies our faith? Do we say God called us, but then sometimes ring our hands trying to figure out a way to accomplish His work? Our actions testify to our faith more than our words. Does our behavior say we believe our Heavenly Father is both willing and able to provide? In our lives, just like Stephen’s, our faith that God is willing and able to supply our needs will be demonstrated in response to a test. This point of decision can tell us if we have the faith.
Through these trials God wants to teach us about the commerce of His kingdom. He wants finances to become a non-issue for the rest of our lives. When hard times and a tight bank account seems to stand in the way of what God is calling us to do, the Lord wants us to believe that He is willing to make a way. He has called us to His work and He wants to see us succeed.
Likewise, our Heavenly Father has more than enough to provide all we need. In Psalm 50 we have one of many records of God’s declaration of His abundant possessions: " For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it."
When Moses and Abraham’s faith was put to the test they each declared their confidence in God’s willingness and ability to provide. Do our missions, our families or our needs require more faith than that of these biblical heroes? Do they require a bigger God? Certainly not! As Andy said, "If God can take care of the Israelites in the wilderness, He can take care of me and my little family."
The testimony of faith and God’s provision from Andy and from Biblical heroes like Abraham, Moses, and others are there to bolster our faith in the Lord and shore up our conviction. In the process, He is training us for the next, likely bigger, challenge to our faith.
After the group had dispersed the church elder took Stephen aside. "Do you believe in what you’re doing, Son? Do you believe God has called you to this particular mission?"
"Absolutely," declared the young missionary. "Its all I can think about! I’ve never believed in anything more than loving the Lord and telling others about Him. I truly believe this is my next step."
"Well, we want to hear that! Those of us on your sending team, your ‘Go Team,’ need to hear your conviction and confidence. Let me ask you this: do you believe God would call you so unmistakably to the mission field of refugees in Germany, and then leave you to figure out how to make His work happen?"
"Well, no." Stephen began to realize how his message tonight had lacked his own assuredness. "It's just that I don't have the money and I don't see how I'm going to get it."
" God knows how," the elder affirmed. "It may not come how you expect, or when you think it should come, but it will come. God is the most faithful, trustworthy Provider we can imagine. Your job right now is to talk and live like you believe He will supply all your needs. Remember what He says in James 2: ‘What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? … faith by itself… is dead.’ (v14,17) This is your works right now to take steps with faith and confidence toward your mission."
The elder prayed with Stephen asking God for the faith for the younger man to take the next step toward the mission field and to speak of it with conviction. After a few more words and a encouraging hug, Stephen began mingling again with the other attendants.
Confessing God’s ability and willingness to provide even when we don’t see it is a declaration of victory. During these times our faith in God must stay resolute, believing that when He sees His children petition for His provision in faith and humility, according to His will, He will send His angels to meet their needs.
Now, how about you?
Identify a brother or sister in Christ whose faith you especially admire. Consider asking them to pray that the Holy Spirit would grow your faith.