LATJ: Open-Handed Living

22 09 2009

OpenHandsSeveral years ago our church was kicking off a new building campaign. The church was growing fast and we were out of space. Members were asked to prayerfully consider participating in the campaign by making a 3 year pledge. My wife and I prayed about it and when we talked about what God was leading us to give we were amazed that we had both come up with the exact same amount. It was an amount that made me a little uncomfortable, especially since I was just starting a new business and there would be no income for at least a year. How would we be able to fulfill this pledge without any income? I hesitated to write the amount on our pledge card. I even thought about cutting the amount in half just to be safe. Then I remembered James 4:17 where it says “Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” Still I didn’t know where the money was going to come from. This was a real challenge to my faith.

In William MacDonald’s book, “The Wonders of God”, he shares a number of stories of how God works in our lives. In one of his stories he talks about a missionary named Hudson Taylor. One quote from Hudson that stuck with me was “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s resources.”. This was telling me that God would provide the resources for what He was telling me to do. God had a plan. He didn’t want me to change the number, but He did tell me to break the pledge up into three parts: 1/6th the first year, 2/6th the second year, and 3/6th the third year. So that is how we wrote down our pledge. And then we waited.

We fullfilled the first year’s pledge amount and throughout the next year my business did well. As I prepared to pay the second year’s pledge I looked at the pledge amount for the 3rd year and wondered if we wouldn’t be better off paying that amount in the second year and then paying the second year’s pledge in the third year. That seemed liked a better financial plan as I wasn’t sure how well business would be the next year. But I was reminded of what God had said and the pledge plan that he had placed on my heart. Again, my faith was challenged. I stayed faithful and only paid the second year’s pledge amount. Business continued well into the third year and at the end of the year we were able to fulfill our third year pledge in full.

I learned a very valuable lesson about faith from that experience. God told us what he wanted from us, He provided a plan, and He delivered on His promise. When we lack faith or begin to doubt God we tend to take matters into our own hands and question God’s wisdom. Things can get messed up pretty quickly when we begin to think that God is not in control. My faith in God grew tremendously during that three year period. God allowed me to participate in His work and I got to see Him fulfill one of His promises.

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