Saturday, September 20, 2014

What Is Faith?

What is faith?  How do we know when God answers our prayers?  The Bible tells us in Hebrews, "Without faith it is impossible to please God."  Certainly we all want our lives and our ministries to be based on faith.

But how do we work out these issues of prayer and faith on a day-to-day basis?  It's not always easy.

Today was a case in point.

For months we have been praying (and many of you have been praying along with our team here in Northwestern PA) for God to provide all we need to pack 23,000 boxes to bless children at our Community-Wide Operation Christmas Child packing party on October 3rd & 4th.

Last night I calculated that we still lacked 8,500 stuffed animals and 3,600 major clothing or anchor items for our boxes.  We have been trusting God to provide these things.  I have not felt anxious and have been able to rest in His provision.

Two days ago I contacted a wholesale supplier who told me a few months ago he thought he could sell me hats and some stuffed toys for .50 each.  Now he seemed to balk at the deal and wouldn't give me a straight answer when I asked if he was willing to sell the items at that price.

Last night I checked once again for an inexpensive source for water bottles to put into our boxes.  I searched the website of a company I'd previously decided was too expensive and realized I'd been looking at the wrong prices.  I also went into my old e-mail and found that company had sent me a coupon code for 10% off.  If I purchased 10,000 water bottles I could get them for 38.7 cents each--a great price for a useful item.

Then I thought that maybe some of the older boys would be just as blessed by flip-flops and a water bottle as they'd be blessed by flip-flops and a stuffed animal.  We could substitute water bottles as either a major anchor item or in place of a stuffed toy.

After this investigation I couldn't fall asleep, so I started to pray.  I always pray that God will provide items for our boxes that will bless the children who will receive them.  Could this be His answer?  I sent an e-mail to my packing party team asking for their counsel.

This morning I received messages from two of those team members and those messages were almost identical.  While both of them thought the water bottles could be good additions to our boxes, they each had concerns that buying them could mean we didn't have faith in God to provide the stuffed animals and clothing for which we'd prayed.

As I thought about that, I began to ponder what trusting God really means.  Meanwhile, I talked with my husband about purchasing the water bottles and he felt they were a better option than spending .50 per item from the other supplier.

After we talked a bit more, I wanted to be sure he was on board.  Our conversation went like this:

Me:  So, are you okay with me buying 10,000 water bottles?
Husband:  Well...if you need them
Me:  I don't need them.  Kids around the world need them.
Husband: (rolls eyes and chuckles)

Yeah, I need a little work on "translating the cause" but still...he did agree.

And God has blessed us with resources that allow us to make this purchase.

So if I use the money God has provided me to purchase items for the boxes does that mean I'm not trusting Him?  Does that mean He has not provided or answered our prayers?   Does paying for the items make them less of a miracle than having someone appear at my door with them?

I think not.

After e-mailing back with my team members who had responded we came to consensus and I did order those water bottles--red ones with green caps.

I'm calling every one of them a miracle.

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