Grapes, [beep]. Cereal, [beep]. Cheese, [beep]…
The man behind me in line at the grocery store watched the cashier as she scanned these and the rest of his items. I had nearly finished bagging my own groceries when I noticed he was having trouble paying. His card was rejected, and he had no cash.
Suddenly I felt a spiritual twinge in my heart. “Go pay for his order,” the nudge said. “But Lord,” I protested, “that would be weird. Besides, we’re on a tight budget these days. I can’t afford to buy groceries for my family plus his.”
My wife, kids and I were on a 6-month Home Assignment (HA) in our home country after our second 4-year term of ministry in Japan. We needed to raise an additional USD1200 per month in order to return as scheduled at the end of our HA. Although we were working hard and had seen some increase in monthly pledges, we were still a long way away from our goal.
As I stood in that store, the Spirit convicted me that Jesus taught us not to worry, not to hover protectively over our money out of fear. If I couldn’t trust the Lord to provide a few days of groceries, how could I trust him to provide many times that amount for the work he called us to in Japan?
“I got it this time,” I said to the cashier, and stuck my own card into the reader. As soon as the transaction was complete, I grabbed my groceries and ducked out quickly. For a long time I didn’t mention the incident to anyone, not even my wife.
In the next two days, the Lord brought us USD400 in new monthly commitments — 1/3 of our goal! It was the biggest 2-day increase we saw during our entire Home Assignment.
Lessons like this formed the theme of our spiritual growth over those months. Although we traveled and shared about our ministry with many churches, small groups, and individuals, we could not impress the Lord with persuasive rhetoric or perfect, polished presentations. What he wanted was our hearts. He called us to trust, to listen for his leading, and to obey, whether or not the circumstances seemed strategic or related to partnership development.
And he is the one who ultimately provided above and beyond our prayers, returning us to the ministry to which he has called us.
By an OMF missionary
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