It would make sense that my thoughts and prayers have been on the topic of Divine provision. After all, I left my pastoral ministry with only two months’ severance pay, trusting that my wife and I heard from the Lord that it was time to expand the ministry He called us to eight years ago and that He would be our provider. This course of action made us put into action a principle my wife, Stefanie, coined a few months earlier: “Desperate Dependence Daily.” In my opinion, these are words rarely talked about and much less seen in U.S. church ministries. That’s not to say many don’t walk in faith, but like the African pastor said while greeting a diplomat at his village airport, “Welcome to Africa, where our God is bigger because we need Him more.” The truth is we all need Him more. Whether we have much, some or little, the Word of God calls us to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 NASB) on all levels of life, not just finances.
This process of living a life of “Desperate Dependence Daily” has led me, not only to evaluate my own trust in God, but also to realize His Divine Provisions in three distinct ways. Let me share these with you and get your thoughts as well. An article I recently read from Churchplants© also gave me some significant insight on this topic.
First is His Normal Means of Provision. Normal, yet Divine, because He is the source of everything that exists. This normal provision is seen in Matthew 6:25-34. Jesus tells us not to worry about our food, clothing and the essential needs of life. He says He will provide. This doesn’t, however, negate the fact that we have a part to play, because Jesus says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Nor, does the Bible as a whole tell us to just trust without working for our needs. The Apostle Paul reminded the Thessalonians, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (3:10). We must be willing to work if we are capable, but even if we are, Jesus reminded us that we aren’t to worry, but trust Him to meet our needs. So, I see the Lord’s Normal Means of Provision through the jobs we have. The money we invest. The businesses we start. For me personally, I’ve seen this provision through the tithes of believers who helped pay my salary, through financial supporters of my past and present ministries and churches who helped with my finances. All of these were because of God’s Normal, yet Divine, Provision through people and my own hard work.
Second, God’s Divine Provision comes through His Miraculous Means. To me, this is when God provides in a way that is simply out of our hands. We may pray, but He miraculously provides. We see pictures of this throughout the Scriptures from God’s miraculous provision over and over in the life of the Israelites from their Red Sea parting, to the manna, quail and water in the dessert, to Jesus multiplying the fish and bread for the multitude to eat. I have been reminded in these days of faith of God’s miraculous provision for me and my family, as well as my church family. Let me share a few of these with you.
When we started North Star Church in Hibbing, it became apparent early on that our first daughter church would be in Virginia, MN. After providing the church planting pastor and family (which is another miraculous story for another time), we then were ready, so we thought, and yet we still lacked the finances to start a church and pay a pastor. However, one day in prayer I sensed the Lord prompting me to ask for $100,000 and a free building. At first I thought it was my own thoughts, but it persisted as I prayed. “Ask Me for $100,000 and a free building”. I did, and shared it with my wife and one of my elders to pray with me. Just weeks later after returning home from a vacation, my wife and I sat down to separate our church mail from our personal mail. I opened an envelope, and to our amazement a $50,000 check to North Star Church was in it! A few more envelopes latter, and you guessed it — another check for $50,000! Shortly after that a friend of mine offered us a building for free. We ended up not taking the building for some reasons I won’t get into here, but the reality is that God provided miraculously; we did plant that church and had money left over to renovate three store fronts in the mall which our church is still doing ministry in.
A more personal experience of His Miraculous provision came when both of our family cars were on their last legs. One was a two-tone Plymouth, white and rust, literally rusting out; the other was an old heap of car parts, barely running. On my way home from meeting a missionary, my car chugging along, I prayed for the Lord to provide a vehicle so we wouldn’t have to take a loan, which we felt Him telling us not to do. When I arrived home I told my wife of the car problem and to pray. That was at 1:30 pm. At 5:30 pm I received a phone call from an individual who asked me how my vehicle situation was. “Interesting you ask,” I said. He told me he had a vehicle for sale. I figured even used it would be too much for me to spend, and I told him that. He proceeded to tell me that he and his wife had prayed and felt we were supposed to have it, so he offered us an unbelievable deal. For my family, that was a truly Miraculous Provision.
So, what about the third Divine Provision? I call it the Wow Provision, when God gives us the desires of our hearts. These are the not planned, not even the needed, but the surprises He gives us just because He wants to. In Psalm 37:4 it says, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart” (NASB). Let me clearly state that I am not a prosperity preacher, not at all, however sometimes in God’s sovereign grace and plan, He chooses to do things for us that aren’t necessarily needed but desired.
I recently experienced this Divine Wow Provision. One day I was riding my Yamaha Seca II. This is the sort of motorcycle you would see a young person on, typically not someone over fifty. My dream was always to have a Harley Davidson, but it just never came to be and I knew the Lord didn’t want me to go into debt to get one. As many of us experience from time to time in our Christian journey, the desire for something can became an idol in our lives, and for me, this did. One day after leaving my office, I decided to take a little cruise before heading home. So, with backpack on I took off with the wind blowing gloriously through the little hair I have left. But in a moment of complete honesty before the Lord, as I cruised, I confessed this idol in my life, that it was on my mind too much, and I laid it down at His feet. I said, “Thank you for even allowing me to have this small bike, and I praise you for it, if it’s the only bike I’ll ever have.” A week and a half later at around 10:30 pm, my nephew Ryan called me from Fargo and said he had something crazy to tell me. He was the owner of two Harleys and the one, for some odd reason, wasn’t selling. He went on to tell me that as he drove home from work that night, he prayed, “God what do you want me to do with the Harley?” He said that he sensed the Lord telling him to “give it to your Uncle Tim.” Wow! The Wow Provision. I didn’t need it, but God gave it to me anyway.
You see, I believe that when we, as God’s children, are living Desperate Dependent Daily, trusting in His Divine Provision, we will see His faithfulness through these three distinct ways. Daily, through the Normal Means of Provision. Then when we step out of the boat, as Peter did, based on hearing the Lord’s word, we will experience His Miraculous Means of Provision. And finally, when we are delighting in the Lord, sometimes we even experience the Wow Provision, and simply rejoice and surrender to the Divine Provider.
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