Monday, January 27, 2014

Fear, Minivans, and the Father’s Mercy

"But the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid . . . "
Joshua 11:6

“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.”
--George Mueller

I eat the peanut butter cup and I realize with every bite that I am eating it because I am afraid. I’m not even enjoying it, just eating it because I’m worrying about a given situation and I am using chocolate and peanut butter as a substitute for prayer.

I don’t want to pray; I want to worry—and eat chocolate and peanut butter while I do it. It’s “easier” than praying-at the moment. Harder in the long run, as I allow the fear and distrust in God to build in my spirit the more I choose not to trust in Him. Harder because I’m constructing concrete walls that will eventually need to be broken down by the Holy Spirit of God.

George Mueller said, “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.”

When I choose to coddle anxiety, to coddle fear, rather than to run to Jesus Christ for protection and mercy, I am setting myself up for failure and discouragement, fear, and distraction—none of which honor God nor bring glory to Him, nor help me in my walk with Him.

I say that I am worrying because I am “concerned” about a problem. But my worry isn’t being channeled into prayer—it’s being channeled into chips or ice cream or excessive self-discipline for the sake of trying to retain control where I perceive that I am losing it.

Let it go . . . “Look to the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap and yet their Heavenly Father cares for them.” “Consider the lilies . . .”--beautifully, elegantly clothed and they took no thought for any stitch of their clothing.

Let it go.

In my own life, the Lord has used the example of George Mueller (and if you have never read about Mueller and his faith-run orphanages, I would commend his writings to you) to encourage me to trust the Lord for daily, practical needs. My husband and I attempt by the grace of God to avoid debt. We live dangerously close to the edge of Western so-called “poverty,” but the Lord always supplies our necessities and we have never been forsaken or destitute.

Recently, my faith was tested and strengthened specifically in areas where I had been fearful and doubtful. The Lord was gracious—two of the areas were in response to specific needs that my family had and that we had been praying about. One was a significantly large material need—for a minivan, and one for an infant carrier that I desired—and that would have been a large expense for my husband and me.

I brought both of these needs/wants before the Lord, and I struggled with trusting Him to provide.

In both of these situations, He mercifully and miraculously provided for us—the minivan came in a way that I least expected it—a large dealership that was trying to make a sale at the very end of the year—we usually never buy our vehicles through dealerships, but hadn’t found anything that fit within our budget for weeks, and so finally decided to try a particular dealership that came to my Mom’s mind and that she recommended to us.

We had a set price that we were working with—and at first the salesman seemed that he wouldn’t budge. I told him that we couldn’t go any higher than the price that we offered—he said that he admired the fact that we were trying to avoid debt and went to talk with his managers.

He came back—they would go a little bit lower, but not as low as we had hoped. I firmly replied that the offer that we had made was the best that we could do, and he made the effort to talk to them again.

They would take it, he came back and said—even seeming a bit surprised himself. We would just need to purchase the car in the few days that remained before the New Year—for the sake of their sales reports. The manager came by and joked with us—he seemed to be in a particularly good mood because of the New Year—and because the Lord had put it in his heart to take the offer that we made in answer to prayer.

I rejoiced in my heart because the answer had come in such an unlikely way—and the minivan was even a color and style that I liked, where I was sure (because of our budget) that it might be a hideous shade of orange, or something along those lines. :-))

And the infant carrier—another answer to prayer—a woman that my sister knew was giving hers to someone who needed it—and so the Lord provided for me, for us. He is merciful . . . and when we step back and actively put our trust and faith in Him, even if our efforts are shaky but genuine, He moves even mountains for us.

This may mean of course that we take active steps of obedience and trust—we cast out our nets, so to speak. But if the night lingers long, and no answer has come, if the net remains empty, I need to be careful that I don’t become fearful that He won’t provide for me and try to work out my own deliverance. Those times when it seems like no answer is in sight are the times that He is using to teach us to wait upon Him, to trust in Him and to have confidence that He is Jehovah-Jireh—the Great Provider.

He will fill the nets, after any hope of human help is past; He will work and move in a “mysterious” way that can only be attributed to His mercy and intervention. The glory then is His alone.

This has happened so many times in my life, especially after I grew discouraged and feared that no answer would be given, that we would be “destitute.” It may be “easier” in the short run to trust in bank books and steady jobs, and insurance policies, but after all of these fail us, it is God—the One who we often forget is the real Provider—who is constant, Who will provide for the needs of those who honor Him.

I leave you with these verses. They have been a great encouragement to me and I urge you to meditate on them and to put your trust in our mighty and merciful Heavenly Father whenever you have a need, whether material or spiritual:

Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish.  You shall seek them and not find them-- those who contended with you. Those who war against you shall be as nothing, as a nonexistent thing.  For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, "Fear not, I will help you. Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I will help you," says the Lord and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, and make the hills like chaff.  You shall winnow them, the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them; you shall rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the Holy One of Israel.  The poor and needy seek water, but there is none, their tongues fail for thirst. I, the Lord, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.  I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and the acacia tree, the myrtle and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the cypress tree and the pine and the box tree together, that they may see and know, and consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it. 

(Isaiah 41:11-20)

1 comment:

  1. It did not surprise me at all when you said the van was the exact color and type you were hoping for. After reading George Mueller's biography and his incredible testimony of how he prayed, I too was inspired to pray in that same manner and received a miracle in the exact size and color I had hoped - in my case a piano. Our Heavenly Father delights to give us the desires of our hearts whether it be practical or for pure enjoyment.