One night in January while I was in seminary, I had to attend an out of town school activity about two hours away from where we lived. After the event a fourteen year old boy stepped up to me in the parking lot as I was about to get into my car and asked if I had any pot, AKA marijuana, AKA weed; depending on which generation you are from. The boy’s name was Mark.
Have you ever attended seminary? If you haven’t, then you probably don’t know about the testing that goes on there. I’m not talking about academic testing. The testing I’m referring to isn’t from professors, nor is it for grades. It is from God, and He is teaching the students there a few things about faith.
When I was in school it seemed as though everyone there was a hair-breath away from financial ruin. It was certainly that way for my wife, Shirley and I. We had to trust God. It wasn’t an option; it was the only option. In fact, it was part of our financial plan!
Many days out of each month I would go to the mailbox; praying all the way that there would be a check behind the letter box door from someone so that my family could eat, or put gas in our car, or pay the utility bill in order to keep the heat on. We worked jobs. We weren’t lazy. It just seemed as though there was never enough money.
My last year, in order to finish by graduation, I was taking a class-load that required me to go to school full-time day and almost full-time night. I worked a part-time job on the weekends that paid minimum wage, because it was all I had time for.
It was a financial hardship to attend this January activity, but it was required. Like a typical seminary student, I began to share Christ with Mark. About thirty minutes later I gave him my phone number and left. I never expected to hear from him again. However, the next day his mother called and invited Shirley and I to their house the next weekend for dinner. She was a Christian and after Mark had shared our conversation with her, it seemed she felt I would be a good influence on her son.
The next Sunday after my work, we traveled the two hours to their home. We ate dinner with them and afterward I went into Mark’s bedroom to talk with him some more. We spent two hours conversing about his problems and his need for God in his life.
When we left to go home, Mark’s mother gave us a check for one hundred dollars. And every week from then until I graduated there was a check in our mail box from her, sometimes two a week, for anywhere from forty to one hundred dollars. We would never have been able to finish school without them. Even now as I write this I am having a hard time holding back the tears while pondering the tender memories of God’s watchful care over us. His faithfulness is a marvel to me.
All the seminary classes I took that dealt with the theology of God’s provision, and His faithfulness, and unlimited wisdom, and so forth, didn’t have as much of an impact on my trust in God as did this one incident. Over the years there have been some tight financial times and some tension-filled moments, but through it all there has been a settled assurance in my heart that God will come through. And He has time and time again. The assurance of God’s attentive care over us is worth more to me than a million dollars, or several.
Jesus said in Matthew 6: 25-26, “…Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink;…look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they?”
If we could just grab ahold of this one truth, most of our stresses about money and provision would just fade away.