In November I had the opportunity to visit the Willis (the Sears) tower in Chicago. I flew into Midway airport and had about 6 hours before my ride picked me up for a conference. So I took the train into the city and rode the elevator up to the top. This was my first visit and I did not realize that there are these glass protrusions that actually hang out past the edge of the building so when you step into them you can look straight down to the street below. The glass is rated to hold over 10,000 pounds, more weight than you could realistically place on the structure in terms of people. I’ve never had a fear of heights, in fact I kind of like the thrill of looking out from high places. Even though my brain told me it was perfectly safe and even though I wanted to experience it, when I begin to step out onto glass I froze with my left foot over the ledge and my right foot firmly anchored seven inches behind it on the firm, tested, opaque, secure, tried and true concrete floor. It took a lot more will and determination than I had expected to fully move out onto the glass box.
Fast forward two months. January 7th 2015 I wake up without a job and a salary for the first time in about 25 years. I have received a pay check of some kind for most of my life and it was difficult to step away from that. From my life experience though this makes no sense. Before I started working I just relied on my mom and dad to provide and they did. I asked and they gave. It was simple. No fear, no anxiety. Life was free. If my folks didn’t give what I asked for I just moved on. Sometimes it was disappointing but looking back the freedom that kind of dependence gives was good training for living with the paradox that I consistently struggle with now. How much more does God want to provide to His servants, and how much more able is He to provide than were my parents? The reality is that my salary has always been a barrier that kept me from dependence on God. The reality is that fully trusting God for His provision leads to freedom.
I am fully dependent on God for the financial well-being and support of myself, my family, and the ministry God has called us to. He has provided abundantly. Even more than I was sure of the ability of that glass floor to hold me up, I am surer of God’s desire to provide for our call to Spain. Despite this surety, this absolute, it took even more will and determination to let go of that salary, and those “precious” benefits. As I was packing my office at the college during the winter break a little voice in my head was screaming, “Don’t do this, tell them you changed your mind. They will let you stay on a little longer. Just wait until you have raised all of your support then you should resign, that would be the smart thing to do. You are making a big mistake!” This was not however the path God was leading me to and I had to struggle with that nagging voice. I tried reasoning with the voice, and that worked for a while, but eventually I had to shut it down and to do that I had to use my gift of patient persistence (read stubbornness) to tell that antagonizing voice, “This may not make sense, but I’m just going to do it anyway and see what happens.” Some of the best decisions I have made in my life have come from me repeating to myself this sentence. It is a kind of a mantra for me and it often gives me a thrill to use it because it means the deciding, thinking, worrying, strategizing, planning time is done and all that is left is go and do. Like stepping out onto a glass shelf from the 103rd floor of the Willis tower, the fear of uncertainty makes following our God a thrilling adventure. I just have to step out in faith, not over analyze the thing, and tell myself, “It doesn’t make sense to me right now but just trust in God, do it anyway, and see what happens.” There is freedom and real adventure here that God is calling us all to.