A decade ago, if you had asked me what I thought when I heard stories of people "living by faith", I would have answered that I imagined them sitting hungry at a table and the doorbell ringing and a mysterious box of groceries being left on their doorstep.... You know - weird things happening that could only because they are so in tune with God that He truly provides their every need.
Since then my husband and I left our jobs to join Campus Crusade for Christ, working in their sports ministry, Athletes in Action. All of a sudden we were "living by faith" and I was totally blown away by how wrong and yet how right my ideas had been! Let me explain.
When you make the decision to "live by faith" you have to trust that God really is as powerful, loving and all-providing as we think He is, and that He is interested in little old me and will actually help me when I need it most. These are things we, as Christians, take for granted. I mean we just assume that God loves us, that He will supply all our needs and that He is truly interested in everything we do. But what happens when you are forced to put your beliefs into practice?
When we first joined Cru (as its now called) we started support raising and got a wonderful team around us to support us prayerfully and financially, through monthly standing orders and one off gifts. These people felt led by God to give to us and we are so humbled and amazed when it happened. But this process, finding our team, took a while, and there were plenty of times when we actually were sitting around a table trying to figure out what was being discarded so that we could buy our groceries that week.
Once, when we were just on the verge of panicking - I say 'we' were on the verge but my husband wasn't worried at all!!! - we went out for a meeting and when we came back there, sitting on our doorstep, was a mysterious box of groceries - with everything that we would have chosen to buy if we'd been asked for a specific shopping list!! I couldn't believe it!!
But this wasn't the only 'mysterious' happening! We've had money dropped through the door matching the exact amount of a bill that needed paid. We've had people donate the exact money my husband needed for a flight to Africa - so many times its unreal!! We've had people give us clothes their kids have grown out of, just when some of mine have had a growth spurt and they've grown out of trousers or track bottoms. The list is endless, and not once did we say to anyone or ask a gift or anything that we got.
God really is that good, and He really is that powerful that He can talk to others on your behalf and ask them to help you. And if you listen, He really does use us to help bless others in amazing ways. He really does provide for His children and we can be witnesses to that.
But where my thinking was totally wrong was that I assumed that these Christians who were "living by faith" were provided for because they were so in tune with God and walking extra close to Him. This isn't the case. God is our Father. And while He wants us to be that close to Him that we are truly in tune with His will for our lives and our desires are His desires.... He knows we are human and sinners and that we will stray or be distracted on a regular basis. We don't need to be walking extra close and be extra holy for God to provide our needs. He does it anyway. Even when we are distracted by every day life and finding it hard to read or pray. Even when we are struggling with something in our faith and don't know where to look. God is our Father. He loves us despite our failings and when we are His children, He will provide us because He loves us.
This doesn't dissolve us of the responsibility to live our lives for Him and to worship Him by drawing close to Him and growing more Christ-like each day, but it is wonderful to know that we have a Father who loves us so much.
So my challenge is this - take some time to spend quality time with God and ask Him to help you to hear His still small voice as you go through each day. And when He prompts you to make someone a meal, or take them a gift, or go shopping for something.... Take heed and do it because you'll never understand how much it can not only bless a family, but be a visible reminder of God at work in their lives, just when they need it most.
"For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ "
Matthew 25:35, 36, 40