History offers us a smorgasbord of heroes, mentors and companions. As we stumble upon their lives, we admire special qualities at work or want to emulate their unique perspectives and personal values. They become part of the great cloud of witnesses cheering us on from the balcony of heaven. They whisper in our ears about which way to turn when faced with decisions. They are faithful guides through unmarked paths.
You have your own list. Mine includes Amelia Earhart, Clara Barton, Dwight Eisenhower and George Mueller, a little known preacher who lived in Bristol, England. Amelia made the list because she was an adventurer, a pioneer who expanded our world and opportunities for women. She also spent time at my alma mater, Purdue. Clara’s work during the Civil War endures as the American Red Cross, an essential organization for disaster relief. We share a Christmas Day birthday. Ike makes the roster for his boldness, courage and integrity. His hard decisions, especially with regard to D-Day, demonstrated moral leadership. His second term as President ended when John F. Kennedy took the oath of office about the time I left the hospital as a newborn.
What about George?
George is a newcomer. I hadn’t heard of him until a few years ago, renewing the acquaintance during the past year. He was a 19th Century pastor in England known for his dynamic faith, particularly as it impacted his work in caring for thousands of orphans. (Don’t be alarmed by his photo, should you look him up. He would have benefited from a savvy publicist who would have suggested he do something with his beard.)
The basics of the story is that George decided to forego a salary and rely upon God to meet his and his family’s needs, along with the growing number of orphans put within his care. To live by such faith required that George spend a lot of time in prayer and in learning scripture at a deep level. He kept records of his needs and how God provided, answers that quite often arrived in the nick of time. During such experiences when it seemed as if the answer was not going to come, or would be seriously delayed beyond the deadline, George, his wife and staff were strengthened through their testing. God came through, using many people in many ways to meet their every need.
George and I became fast friends this past year when I was no longer self-sufficient. His path of utter reliance upon God became mine. Time and again, I’ve learned the lessons George learned scores of years ago. Even today I learned afresh the lessons of trusting God for everything.
I have long been without a regular income and after dipping into what I had saved, and not having that replenished, my financial resources are long gone. I am now without my own place to live because it seemed unwise to renew a lease under the circumstances.
I moved out Sunday, a process in and of itself a miraculous provision due to generous, good, and kind people. But on Saturday night I didn’t know where I’d stay the next night. That evening a friend in Michigan arranged for me to stay several nights in a beautiful part of Colorado. Modest, off-season rates made it cheaper than staying in Denver.
Today I was to check out by 10 a.m. because it was the end of what had been provided. There was no answer, no provision, despite urgent prayers. I woke up in the middle of the night to ask God what step I should take. By about 8:00 a.m., there was still no sense of clear direction. I figured I’d pack up two cats and the car and wait for God’s action.
Shortly after 8 a.m., a friend in California called. She herself has lived for a very long time dependent on God for every provision. The way has been quite narrow for her, and her bank balance often below what any of us would feel comfortable seeing. Through several different means, God not only surpassed her financial needs, but gave her an abundance. When she called today, she wanted to share that with me. With two hours to go, I was able to extend the stay and take care of a few essentials thanks to her generosity which we both acknowledge as God’s graciousness to us both. We are thankful!
I write this, not for pity about this challenging situation. I’d rather be thought of as a self-sufficient, successful, capable adult. I share my experience because someone reading this may benefit. It is being tapped out on BlackBerry at a Starbucks in Dillon, Colorado, because you, dear reader, may have any variety of need for which you are crying out for relief. Maybe you, too, need financial provision. Perhaps you need hope and encouragement. I don’t know your situation, or if what you face is beyond your abilities and resources, emotional, physical and spiritual. Even though the way isn’t clear and all that you need isn’t currently in hand, I want to tell you: have faith. God does hear our prayers. He knows our needs. He is with us, promising to never leave or forsake us. If you don’t believe me, read up on George.