Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
– Psalm 61:2-3
These past months have been a real challenge as I raise financial support to serve with InterVarsity’s Graduate and Faculty ministry in Cincinnati. Asking people for money is not a natural gift.
However, I’m told it’s not about asking for money, it’s asking people to partner in ministry. A ministry that I and many others want to see thrive and in which I see God’s hand at work Also, in reality, I’m not the one raising support, God as always, is the ultimate provider.
While one part of my brain assents to these idea, the materially conditioned part of my brain becomes overwhelmed with the numerical goal and what it’s likely to take to reach it. So many letters, e-mails, phone calls, meetings, . . .
In this world I waiver between two extremes. First, trust God fully that the support will come. Sounds good, and it’s biblical. But, sometimes I use this as an excuse to sit back and wait – excusing myself from any role in this work. Or, second, do the work and trust myself In this mode I find myself worried about not reaching the goal and trying to figure out ways to convince people to give. It feels awful.
Slowly (painfully slowly), I’m learning to trust that God is at work in raising this support as I step out to share about the ministry. In this stepping out, I see how God is working and, more importantly, how his Word is changing me. Sometimes I fall flat on my face, sometimes I feel rejected. Other times I’m surprised at the interest people have and their faithfulness in walking in God’s ways whether they decide to offer financial support or not.
Part of the change in my life is a growing awareness of my brokenness. It’s becoming clear that I think and act as if I’m the one in control more than I ever thought. Each week I detail a task list and make plans to complete the work ahead – calls, ministry plans, visits. I don’t even feel worthy of praying until some work is completed and I can show God that I’m diligent and deserve a reward. Once I finish I can then go before God and thank him for the way he followed through on my plans. As you can see, all the emphasis is on me.
Eventually, I find myself crying out in frustration and weariness. Retuning to God with my head bent low and hands held out as a beggar. As one who cannot do this work, or any, on her own. As he then lifts me to the “rock higher than I” I am open to hearing words like Paul’s”
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. – 2 Cor 9:8
God’s grace will provide the needs for every good work – those works God prepared in advance for us (Eph 2). However, those needs may not be what I see as the needs. So all I can do is step out and embrace the sufficiency and the work that God provides.
Through these days and weeks ahead I know I’ll continue making mistakes. Even so, I pray that each step will be towards God who will lead me to His refuge instead of towards a refuge and path I design myself.