After listening to Todd’s interview with Bill Hybels on Sunday, I was reminded that God is the supplier and re-supplier of all my resources. I have heard many accounts of how this is true in the lives of others, and those “only God” stories always inspire me. However, I am most convinced when I remind myself of how God has worked in my own life.
When I first attended Willow Creek in 1999, I was searching for a faith I could understand and for a clear explanation of salvation. As an adult, I found the faith of my childhood to be very works-driven, and while I heard salvation referred to as a gift, it felt more like “a day’s pay for a day’s work” to me. I read what was then called the “Willow Creek Participating Membership Manual,” and I readily accepted the concepts of Grace, Growth, Groups, and Gifts. Then I got to the part titled, “Good Stewardship.” I struggled with the concept of financially supporting the church through tithing. I had questions. Was this really biblical? Who has 10 percent of their income waiting to be given to the church? I spoke to a wise friend who helped walk me through it. He told about a time he went through a difficult financial period, struggling to tithe, and described how his faith in God as the supplier of his resources helped him persevere. After he made this decision, he said his boss gave him an increase in pay that was totally unexpected! He cautioned me not to assume he told me this as a “give to get” story but to help me see God’s sovereign control over our resources.
Armed with my friend’s wisdom and story, my wife and I made the decision to begin giving and, in time, get to full tithing. We made the decision on a Sunday. The next Thursday, my boss called me and gave me a raise. It was totally out of the blue, and it was not part of the usual merit-raise cycle. I became emotional while on the phone with by boss, and I told him that a very real and supernatural blessing had just occurred. The lesson I learned was that, if I became willing, God would provide!
Shortly after that, I became involved in ministry and found my passion in serving God through the church. I committed to myself and to God that I would serve more fully in ministry sometime in my life, but I had “financial stipulations.” I came up with a number and told God if He would make it happen, I would do it. I prayed “The Prayer of Jabez” (1 Chronicles 4:10), asking God to enlarge my responsibility. In the following year, I received many such opportunities to grow professionally and financially. We made (what was for us) a significant commitment to participate in Willow’s “Chapter 2” building and regional-expansion campaign.
A couple of years later, a meltdown occurred in my industry. I found myself in a financial panic. I prayed for help, but I couldn’t see a clear path. I wanted to pray for a specific outcome, but all my options seemed beyond the reach of God. Amazingly and unexpectedly, God made a way. The next three years wound up being the most financially rewarding of my career. How could that be? How could a situation that seemed so hopeless turn into something so prosperous? As we say…only God!
Many years later, I am living out my commitment (and dream) of serving more fully in ministry than in a job. I have been blessed in unexpected and undeserved ways. God is faithful. He has shown time and time again that He is my supplier and re-supplier. My prayer for this season is to know and believe this to my core—and to respond accordingly.
What thoughts did Todd’s interview with Bill stir up in you?
Where have you seen God’s faithful provision in your life? How will you respond?