“If we desire our faith to be strengthened, we should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried, and therefore, through trial, be strengthened” (George Müller).
It is a bit embarrassing to admit, but I don’t know if I (Michael) can say that in the past I have desired my faith to be strengthened. It seems, however, that God desired that for me, so now I find myself living a life more and more dependent on faith with each passing season. When Helen and I came on staff with YWAM Turner Valley almost two years ago, my desire was to teach students how to know the truths of the Bible for themselves; the part that terrified me was that we would be doing this on a support-raising income model. At the time I worried mostly of how we were going to make monthly expenses, but now I look back, and not only has God provided for our month-to-month needs, He has also allowed for us to travel to Thailand and Nepal to teach the Bible and love others. In addition to this, our life here has been abundant in experiences, even though our financial situation is conservative. Much of what Helen and I have dreamed of doing, God has made a way for us to enjoy. In the midst of this growing of my faith came the reading of George Müller’s autobiography. We were reading it as a staff here at YWAM Turner Valley, so though it was not a book I had chosen to read, the timing could not have been more perfect.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with George Müller, this man was a missionary from Germany to England in the 1800s. God radically changed Müller’s life and called him to minister to orphans in Bristol, England. One of the things that makes his work so unique is that Müller felt called to living entirely by faith. What I mean by this is he did not take a salary for his work, and did not fund-raise for his ministry, not even letting others know his financial needs or the financial needs of the work he was doing. He simply prayed and waited for God to provide. Now, let me be the first to say that this sounded crazy to me when I first started reading this book. Actually, in many ways it seemed irresponsible. But for Müller, this was about testimony. He longed for people living in the midst of the industrial revolution, to know that God was their Provider, and not the increased economic opportunities of the day. He wanted those around him to see that his needs, and the needs of his ministry, were not met by man, but by the hand of God working through man. Müller wanted others to know that God is faithful and provides abundantly (I say that with the whole of Müller’s ministry in view; to read about how God provided for his ministry, check out this article). When reading this autobiography, you see that Müller and those who worked with him had their faith built over many trials, but in the end, God provided for five orphanages to be built that are still standing today, orphanages that cared for thousands of children, their needs also provided for by the Lord.
What struck me most about Müller’s life was his expectant heart in prayer. When he felt God had promised him something, he acted in expectant obedience. Then when that promise was fulfilled or prayer answered, there was no doubt in his mind that God had come through and out of that, his faith grew. I have been practicing this more in my own prayer life lately – trusting in the promises of God, expecting a miracle, and giving credit where credit is due. It is amazing how faith is built by expectant obedience as I see God fulfill His promises.
George Müller’s autobiography came to Helen and I at a time when we really are waiting expectantly for this next season of ministry God is calling us into, and I am grateful for its encouragement.