For the longest time, I really only understood the idea of God doing great works for and through biblical figures. Somehow it escaped me that He still does amazing works for and through people today… but you know, other people. I’ve heard some seriously awesome (the word gets thrown around like kids throwing fits in Walmart, but in this case, it is more reverent and appropriate) stories from other people.
Then I started thinking, Why exactly do I feel these things cannot happen to me? All these biblical figures were just people with a little faith. The personal stories I’ve heard have come from ordinary people who just happened to exercise some faith. God actually wants to bless us, but we tend to hold Him back by our own lack of faith in receiving what He has to offer. Seriously, if God wants to give you something, take it. Duh! And yet, many of us often miss it. Yes, us- I include myself.
This time, I believed and received. It works! Go figure.
I went on a mission trip to Costa Rica last summer. It was an eye-opening and wonderful experience, and I saw God in it. However, when I felt called to go on that trip, Robert had just regained employment and we had fundraised so much for our favorite organization Love 146 before that, we really didn’t feel right reaching out for money from others to help pay my way for the trip, and we took care of about 2/3 of it ourselves. Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t a pride thing as much as it was that we were grateful for Robert’s job and figured we should give our thanks through this, because we finally could.
This January was the deadline to apply for this summer’s mission trips. Robert had been so moved through my experience last year that he wanted to go back with me. This time around, the price went up for individuals and we would have to pay for two instead of one. And oh, yeah, we were already pretty sure I was going to be leaving the security of my job as a teacher, meaning that by the time the money would all be due (July 1), we would be on the last of that income. Financially, this would be a stretch.
Then sometimes our plans get changed. So few people applied for the trip to Costa Rica that it had to be cancelled, but there were openings in one of the trips to Guatemala. For just a moment I thought it was a way to escape the financial burden and we could bow out gracefully. But that thought was overridden by the possibility that the plan change was by God’s design and He really just wanted us to go to Guatemala instead, so we agreed to the change. Good news: this trip was actually a few hundred dollars less per person, so that helped ease my worries, but not much.
I found myself continually stumbling across various pieces of faith literature that just happened to be about having faith to receive, following God’s plan, and believing that He will always provide. Then one morning while I was getting ready for work, I had an epiphany (that is such a fun word). I was looking at the “mountain” of not having an extra $3200 in my pocket, instead of telling the mountain to move, which is what we are told to do in Matthew 17:20. It wasn’t an audible voice, but I felt in that moment that God told me to stop worrying because He was going to move that mountain and that we wouldn’t have to pay a penny. One other important part of that scripture is that we can’t just think our mountain will move, but we have to tell it to move, so I began to thank God for providing the finances for our trip and I told Robert it would be all taken care of.
We made our list of people to send support request letters, typed them up, and mailed them out. We were getting a steady flow of donations for a while and it was encouraging.
Then there was a lull. We had made it just beyond the halfway mark, and then we had nothing else coming in. Honestly, I began to feel a bit discouraged. I was grateful for what had been provided, but since it didn’t seem like anything else was coming, I was bummed that we were going to have to put in our own funds after all. I figured this meant God was going to provide a way for us to come up with that money for ourselves, but I had really hoped to have one of those amazing God stories to tell people about how God had told me the trip would be taken care of and all the money came flowing in. Now it just seemed that although I was sure we would manage, the story just wouldn’t be as cool, and I wanted a way cool God story… like the ones other people have.
God also wanted me to have a story to tell others, a way to spread the word about how awesome He is and how He still makes amazing things happen today.
Through a friend of Robert’s family, someone I’ve never even met in person and only have the honor of knowing through Facebook, God provided $1800 in a really cool way. She and her husband had given to their church to help plant a new church, but it just hadn’t worked out and the group had decided to not pursue it any further and each person could request their fair amount to go towards some other charity, and this couple chose us for their portion. Not only did we end up with enough money to cover our trip, but God provided beyond what was needed! And now I have my own really cool God story I can tell people.
Then Robert and I had a conversation about faith just last night. He was talking about how sometimes we (Christians in general) tend to forget about having faith for the simple little things in life because we focus on those big mountains. I totally agree with him because I really wanted a way cool God story so that I could tell others about it and they could see His amazingness. I think in our world we’re so used to needing to have something big to show and impress people that I guess I’m afraid if I tell people about something small like, “Since peanut butter was on sale at Publix I actually stayed within my grocery budget to the penny this month,” they’ll just think, “So what?” But those little things add up and are just proof that we can trust God for everything from peanut butter to completely paid for mission trips, and so much more (just add your own little to big issues here).