Trusting God's Provision
I graduated from college in the midst of a recession. Jobs were hard to come by, especially jobs in my field. Shortly before I received my degree, I remember attending a workshop in which prospective employers were invited to address students about job prospects. Though I hadn't expected a pep rally, I was unprepared for the doom-and-gloom scenarios that were presented. As I felt my confidence sinking, I had a sudden thought: "You don't need a hundred jobs, you only need one." I grabbed that thought because it felt like a promise from God. Indeed, two months later, I was offered an entry-level position in publishing, one that opened the door to my career. Year ago God began teaching me a lesson I am still learning: when I put my hope in him, he will supply all my needs.
Prior to the last recession, I paid lip service to the idea that God provided all I had and so therefore all of my money belonged to him. The truth is I spent money as though 90 percent (all but my tithe) was completely under my direction. It was only when money became tight that I began to learn that everything I own belongs to God. Now when money comes in, I praise him for every penny, acknowledging that it is his money to dispose of as he wants. "How should we use this money, Lord?" has become a question I frequently ask. Should I take that business trip? Or would it be a distraction? Should I send my children to public or private schools? Where do you want my tithe to go? Are there ways I could save money in order to give more? Should I save up for a new roof for my house or consider moving to smaller home before the roof needs to be replaced?
I used to assume I knew the answer to these and other questions. Now I ask. Strangely, this change in attitude has brought greater freedom and peace. I no longer have to carry the burden of supporting my family all on my own. Now I realize that my role is to follow God faithfully, and his role is to provide. It's his money 100 percent--at least that's how I want to think about it.
Sometimes God might strip us of what we have in order to reveal who he is and the riches of what we have in him. Let me offer an example. What would you think if the president of the United States were to order a five-star general to dismiss 99 percent of his fighting force before meeting a formidable enemy on the field of battle? It sounds crazy, doesn't it? But that's exactly what God ordered Gideon to do. Remember the scene in the Bible in which Gideon and his 32,000 men are ready to take on the Midianites? Before they can attack, God tells Gideon that he has too many men for the job. So Gideon's force of fighting men is finally whittled down to a paltry 300. With this tiny army, beating all the odds, he comes up with an astonishing plan to defeat the enemy (Judges 6-8). Similarly, God sometimes strips us of the resources we think we need to live successful lives. For believers, success is defined not by what we have but by who we have--the God who is able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine.
The story of Gideon is instructive for another reason. A fearful man whose courage is activated by an encounter with God, Gideon built an altar and called it Yahweh Shalom, which means "The Lord Is Peace." Gideon found peace through following the Lord faithfully.