The other day, my husband and I were talking, as we often do, about this incredible, terrifying yet ultimately blessing-filled journey God has set us upon. I said to him, “You do know that what we are doing right now is about the most outrageous, shocking thing left in the world, right?”
It’s true. In the twenty-first century, there aren’t many outrageous actions left. What were once conventional taboos–sex, relationships, career choices, religious claims–it’s a world of anything goes now. But what is still the stuff we don’t tend to discuss in polite company is money. And the idea of choosing to live a life without security or the safety net of savings, investments and insurance is simply unheard of by many.
So what we’ve been doing for the last eighteen months–living without a dependable income and relying on God’s provision for nearly all our daily needs–that’s craziness. It’s the question most people ask Clint first when they hear about The Community Chaplain.
“Wow. That’s amazing. But how do you live?”
I’ll be honest with you . . . the last few months have been very touch-and-go, and even now, as I type this, there’s more uncertainty than assuredness when it comes to basic things like housing, food and utilities. I’ll be even more painfully open–I haven’t handled it well.
Living for God and trusting that He will provide sounds like a lovely fairy tale to those of us who believe in His goodness and love, and who may have been raised on stories of missionaries and other men and women of God who made the leap into total reliance. And there are times when I know–I know–that He is with us and has marvelous plans for our family, plans we couldn’t even begin to imagine for ourselves.
But there are also times when I can only see the looming phone bill or car insurance payment, the due dates edging closer and closer . . . or days when Clint needs to go see someone who is in desperate need of him, and we don’t have enough to both eat and fill the gas tank of his truck.
There are Saturdays when he comes home from the Community Garden floating on air, because people turned out to help and plants are growing food for us to share with the hungry and it seems to be working–and other Saturdays when Clint returns home dejected because animals are eating the plants and we can’t afford the fencing to keep them out. Or we can’t take the next step because we don’t have whatever is needed–top soil, seeds, or a wheelbarrow.
Donations to the ministry have been few and far between lately. What used to make up the gap isn’t there. But the needs still are: Clint is still ministering to as many if not more people. He’s providing, he’s visiting, he’s leading studies and worship. The work doesn’t slow when the funds do.
Those are hard times.
A few weeks ago, Cate finished her first year in Maine, where she attends Unity College thanks to the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship. Her car is in bad shape, and she’d been advised by more than one person to sell it and use the cash for a plane trip home. But she was unwilling to give up on her little car, so together with her brave sister, she drove it all the way south to central Florida.
During those days, Clint and I were both nervous wrecks. We were not only worried about what might happen if they broke down alongside the road; we knew that there was nothing we could do to help them if they did. It was enough to give a mom an ulcer.
But guess what? Thanks to prayers and the goodness of God, they made it, and that car is still running. Miracle.
There are other miracles happening around us, too. We saw a dear friend literally die–his heart stopped–and when we went to the hospital the next day, there was no doubt the prognosis was grim. Words like ‘decision’ and ‘choices’ were being murmured by hospital staff. But now, less than three weeks later, that same friend is home, and he is walking, talking, laughing and recovering. Miracle.
Our uncle was diagnosed with lung cancer last fall . . . again, the doctors had some difficult things to say. Hope wasn’t an idea that was being encouraged. But now, as he continues the treatment, he’s doing amazingly well, still working, enjoying his family, and living. Miracle.
This week, as I did housework, my mind fell as it often does to the nitty-gritty of things. This is how much is coming in. This is how much absolutely must be paid. But as I did, I heard God. He often speaks when I’m doing mindless chores–probably because I’m more open to hearing Him.
Stop focusing on the need and focus on the Giver.
And it clicked. I’ve been so preoccupied with trying to make ends meet or scrambling for solutions when they don’t that I’ve fixed my eyes there, on what we desperately need, rather than on God, who wants to provide for us. I’ve taken my focus from the good and the possible and moved it to the fear and the what-ifs.
God never tells us to worry more. He never says fear now! He never says–stop praising me and work the problem. On the contrary, what Jesus says most often is–be at peace. Fear not. Stop worrying. Stop fussing. Look at me. Trust me. Lean on me.
Not long ago, I was joking with my daughter about going to London to research the next two Anti-Cinderella books. She laughed and said, “Oh, yeah? And just where do you think you’re getting a grand for that plane ticket?”
I told her that I live in a world of possibilities, and we both chuckled, because we’d been talking about some pretty grim realities before that. Shortly thereafter, I felt God telling me to make a list–to write down my wish list of things or situations I’d dearly love but can’t imagine being able to do.
When I did, it wasn’t long or extraordinary. That list included things like a new vacuum, because our 11-year-old one is dying and held together by duct tape. It also included mulch for our yard and shelves for our front room.
It’s crazy to write a wish list when you have $18 in your bank account and twenty-two days left in the month, isn’t it? But what I realized was that this world of possibilities–that’s where God wants me to live. He doesn’t want me looking at the lack–He wants my eyes on Him and on the abundance that is at hand.
I need reminders. I need to be told daily to lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help–the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.
So if you’re reading this and you know me, I ask you to do that–to message me or email me or post on my Facebook page and remind me. Fix your eyes on the Provider, on the possibilities, not on the lacking.
And pray for me, as I do for all of you.
The Community Chaplain is a non-profit ministry that provides pastoral support to those who might otherwise not receive it. You can learn more about The Community Chaplain here.
Donations may be sent to The Community Chaplain, PO Box 195631, Winter Springs, Florida 32719 or through our dedicated PayPal button: paypal.me/TheCommunityChaplain
And prayer support and encouragement is always appreciated!