Do You Believe It?
Other versions of this motto are:
"God’s will done in God’s way never lacks God’s supply!"
"Where He guides, He provides!"
While it seems irreverent to disagree, I confess that I find these statements to be dangerous half-truths, maybe even shallow intellectually. I wonder if they come from a misunderstanding of the George Mueller “principle” of telling no one but God about your finances.
The missionary mis-application boils down to this:
Do your ministry faithfully and the money will come in.
No need to muddy your hands with fundraising. Furthermore, if the money does not come in, you may not be doing your ministry well enough. Hmmmm….
Do the Scriptures actually teach this?
Psalm 104 says that God provides for all His works. He sends water and food for wild donkeys, birds and man. But look at verse 14 and 15:
“He makes grass grow for the cattle and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread that sustains his heart.” (NIV)
Instead of the word “cultivate” the New American Standard uses the phrase “for the labor of man.” Labor! Work is needed!
The food is there in raw form, but man must cultivate it! It doesn’t fall into his mouth from heaven! From the beginning God set it up this way. Adam and Eve had work to do in order to thrive physically. Even the animals must “gather it up” (verse 28).
As a bird-watcher, I appreciate Jesus’ references to birds in Matthew 6:26 where he says that our “heavenly father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” But what do birds spend most of their waking hours doing?
I have seen Robin Chats in Kenya energetically scratching at the ground and digging around under bushes. I have seen Black Kites in Kampala soaring low across the city swooping down over garbage dumps or tourist picnic areas! I have seen Northern Gannets a mile off the coast of Prince Edward Island diving repeatedly into the cold ocean waters.
What are these birds doing? They are working hard seeking food their heavenly father has “provided!” Some biologists say birds spend 60% of their waking hours looking for food.
Animals instinctively know they have a role to play or they starve. Similarly, as missionaries you and I have a “food seeking” role to play too.
Isn’t it interesting that businessmen or farmers or factory workers do not expect that God will provide for them without their directly working on an economic plan? But missionaries have gotten the wrong idea that they needn’t bother with financial stuff.
However, we all have heard miraculous stories of how God provided for missionaries without the missionaries doing anything financial. True. It has happened to me too. But it doesn’t happen all the time as the norm for all missionaries.
It is time to look below the surface of these half-truths:
- How many ministry workers leave the field because they do not experience last-second-miraculous-financial-deliveries?
- What is the pressure on mission wives who must provide hospitality for many guests?
- What is the discouragement quotient for those who “don’t have enough faith” to live this way?
I find it takes more faith to pick up the phone to courageously ask for a meeting with a friend to invite him to join my ministry financial team than to wait by the mailbox for money to appear miraculously!
Okay, a conclusion: I can accept these rich theological statements if we add a caveat.
Where God leads, He will provide for your needs when you participate with Him by doing your part financially.
I am not suggesting we trust God less! Actually, I am suggesting we trust God more wisely by doing our part in His provision for us. And when you do your part financially, that is true ministry that blesses you as well as others.
Now, what is your part?