Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.Proverbs 3:5
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to youMatthew 6:25-33
I believe one of the most important aspects of a Christian’s life is also one that is practiced the least: trusting God, according to His will.
Before I continue, I want to point out that this article is not coming from a missionary who has it all figured out and who has attained a higher spiritual level. By no means, for I struggle as much as anyone else, if not even more, to know God’s will for my life every day and to truly trust Him in every detail.
You see, when we first came to Africa, more than 10 years ago, we were fully funded … in theory. Romanian churches sent us on our way, only to withdraw their support 3-6 months after we arrived, citing different financial reasons and priorities. This was not even the worst, as several others told us “Sure, go serve the Lord, we will be behind you” only to never actually send any funds after we arrived here. The 100% theoretical support turned out to be around 40% practical support. In the first year in Malawi we were severely underfunded.
We tried to learn how to cope with a growing family (Lita was already pregnant with our 2nd born), a growing ministry and shrinking funds. We couldn’t go back and raise funds as we didn’t have the money. As a father, husband and missionary I worried, I stressed and I tried to find ways to provide but I couldn’t legally work here according to our missionary visa conditions and I didn’t want to compromise ourselves and the ministry.
Initially I started borrowing money. Yes, I did that. I borrowed money and not from banks (I couldn’t) or other missionaries, but from locals. It’s a time of our lives we don’t talk about much, but we did borrow money from well-to-do Malawians in order for my wife to make the Malawian staple food which fed us for many months.
As a family this was the first time we ran out of money. Prior to being a missionary, I had a steady and well paying job – in computer programming – and money was never an issue for us. This time, there was no money and the scary thing was that it happened half way across the world, away from family, friends and churches.
To cut a long story short, it took me 3 years here in Africa to learn this lesson: God’s Word is true, God’s promises are true, He will provide and I need to trust Him. And this is the key: trust God according to His will. You see, many believers have fabricated other ways to “trust God” while they’re really trusting themselves, their bank accounts, their stuffed fridge and so on. I know God is the one giving us the strength to work but the truth is that very few believers truly seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness FIRST. That’s the keyword: FIRST.
When we don’t put God and His work FIRST then truly we try to provide for ourselves. Many in the West do a good job at that. Most people in Africa fail. In theory we still claim God provides but that is not reflected in practice.
Why I am writing all this? Because God just reminded me today that I need to fully trust Him. You see, we’re getting close to our sabbatical and this brings a lot of changes in our family and ministry. As I am writing this, there are so many “loose knots” around me that I don’t even know where to start. Again, as a husband, father and missionary, I am trying to make sure my family will be taken care of while we will be in Romania and the ministry in Malawi will be taken care of here.
Winter is coming and our heating system in Romania is not completed. We still need to eat and pay bills there. We don’t yet have a vehicle. I worry about the funds in Malawi. I worry about the Primary School. I worry about things that need to happen, material, tangible things. Then I worry a lot about God’s will for our lives, about the future, about things that I have no control on. Where will we be in 5 or 10 years from now? We have dedicated our lives to serving the Lord, but what will happen next?
You see, I am a human being and I have to fight with myself every single day. I know – both in theory and practice – that God is in control and He will provide, but many times I am weak and my faith is weak. During days like this one, God reminds me:
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.Bible
Knowing God’s Word is true and believing God at His Word, I have to bring my heart and head to this conclusion: God will provide and He will take care of these material things that need to happen. I have to focus on seeking Him first.
I have two choices in front of me: FIRST to worry, do my best, ask around and work for my needs or FIRST to seek God and His righteousness and trust He will take care of the rest. Today I choose to trust Him.