God is Full of Grace and Mercy: And This Truth Can Even Be Displayed While Raising Support

 

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:1-17 (NIV)

We have never been to heaven. We’ve learned about it in Scripture, discussed the hope of it, and some people have even written books to give us a taste of its greatness. There is an electrifying expectancy, knowing that one day God’s people will walk into a land where praise is the adorning jewel to perfection. Jesus stepped out of this perfect beauty into the filth of this dying world to become one of us. He willingly paid the price for our death and conquered it so we could live in that perfection.

This is the same God who washed the dirty feet of the disciples.

If you don’t get this example of such incredible humility, then it will be hard for you to even begin to fathom the depth of God’s grace and mercy and to live in it while raising support. We are nothing. Our fallen character swells our egos as we listen to Satan’s lies, telling us that we on our own are greater than who we really are. We are nothing. Sadly, we are selfish by nature, demanding attention, fighting for our right to be heard, and whining if someone else gets noticed over us. We are nothing. Sin is the core that drives us, blinds us, and destroys us.

Here is the beautiful message of God’s grace and mercy—We are nothing, yet the completed, triune God wanted a relationship with His fallen creation. Jesus, in all His glory, obeyed His Father’s command to step out of the heavenly realm to be the sacrificial Lamb for our sins. In that one act, we who are absolutely nothing and have no desire to pursue God on our own, are chosen by Him and are crowned with royal righteousness, not by our own might, strength or goodness, but by His glorious grace.

We are in a battle against this truth. The verses—in humility think others better than yourself (Phil 2:3), be humble and bear with one another in love (Eph 4:2), in humility God will lift you up (Jas 4:10), the last will be first (Matt 20:16)—clashes with our old self-righteous rags we still like to wear in this fallen world. Christ, who is God in the flesh, took the lowly position of a servant to demonstrate how we are to love and serve one another, and He stated, “no servant is greater than his master” (16). With these words, we have no grounds to hold our egos over anyone else, for even Jesus served His betrayer. With Jesus’ actions as a servant, our smugness should be wiped right out of us, because He is the King. We are all vile, arrogant, and whiney, and God has given us unearned keys to His Kingdom.

Therefore, God did not choose you because you showed the greatest potential to grow your ministry with the next brilliant idea, or because you excelled in Bible college while graduating top of your class, or even because you have shown a whimsical knack for puppetry. Apart from Him, you offer absolutely nothing to God that He cannot do for Himself. But He CHOSE you. He took DELIGHT in you. The very Sustainer of life BESTOWED you with gifts to serve and glorify Him. That is grace. And this knowledge should bring us to our knees in worship.

I’m painting such a stark contrasting picture to help you translate this truth into your support-raising journey and throughout your ministry. Jesus’ foot washing example is not just for special ministry moments set with dim lights, a half-empty washbasin, and awkward side-glancing silence. Day-by-day, with every breath, we are to live the truth of this grace out. The support-raising journey is a chance to figuratively wash people’s feet. God has opened the door for you to step into people’s lives and connect them with God Almighty and to invite them into His work. This isn’t the time to celebrate you and how great you are. You have a story to tell of how God is working in you, a humble story of how you are being used by God’s grace and mercy.

What are you going to choose to focus on during this time?

  1. Praise God that He is using you for His kingdom purposes.
  2. Tell others your story of God’s amazing grace and mercy in your life.

God is Holy: Which Comes Before Our Efforts on the Support-Raising Journey

 

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written” ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV)

The further our culture gets from God, it seems the less we, even the Church, are in awe of His holiness—the kind of crying out where we declare our unworthiness when we encounter God like the prophet Isaiah did as he saw the LORD seated on His throne. Instead, we’ve made the holiness of the King of all kings tepid and have painted a picture of a God who is so tolerant of sin that He would never condemn anyone to eternal punishment. The reality is, God is perfectly righteous and His wrath will be poured out on all unrighteousness. Simply to be in His presence should cause us to fall down in awe in reverence, never leaving us the same.

If God weren’t holy, then we wouldn’t have needed the sinless sacrifice of His Son. Before the Apostle Peter repeats God’s calling for us to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16), he paints a picture of a loving God who showed great mercy in order for those who have faith to have new birth into a living hope, an eternal inheritance that will never spoil. With this gift there is no more separation from our loving God. He made us holy—not to the point of holding wrath and judgment in our hands—but to the place of being set apart. To live out of this gift, we are called to put aside our evil desires and live as holy strangers in this world. This gives us an eternal perspective, which allows us to endure anything we encounter.

1 Peter 1:15 says we are to be holy in ALL that we do. This is a convicting statement as people venture out onto the support-raising journey where the pursuit of money reigns and has the potential to make Christians not only act worldly but to experience undue stress. But what does it mean to be holy on this journey? First, we must understand that God has placed us on this journey for a reason. Having to raise support is not a mistake. This time is God-ordained as an intentional way for us to share our stories of what our awesome God has done in our lives. That change in perspective often changes our attitude. We can freely set aside our panic, burden, and overall feeling of being overwhelmed and simply rest in His presence.

Just like when Isaiah said, “Here am I, send me,” we, too, should take the time to encounter God in his holiness and be stirred into action by the God who loved us enough to pursue a relationship with us. He is asking us to be set apart, to be different, even on the support-raising journey. This is more than just a change in action, but a change of heart as we fall to our knees in awe of our awesome God. Let this thought guide every conversation and meeting you have. If we miss this opportunity on the support-raising journey, then this time becomes just an arduous task instead of an avenue to talk about our holy God. Let’s take our conversations and make them pleasing to God. My prayer for you is that by living as holy on this journey, you will keep an eternal perspective so that you can endure anything that comes your way.

  1. How is this thought of God being holy going to change your support-raising journey?
  2. Take time to encounter our holy God.

God is Patient: As He Holds the Whole Support-Raising Journey in His Hands

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some count slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV)

I have lain awake sometimes literally fearing that God would not use me. My heart so yearns for the people around me and those where I’ll be in future ministries to know Jesus that I fear, if I don’t get to places quick and start telling people about Christ, then they would never know Jesus before they die. This is obviously a silly thought probably magnified by a half-sleepy mind in the wee morning hours, but so often we run our support-raising journey in this frenzied, must-hurry-up-and-be-used state. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be used right now in the places that God calls us—after all, He did call us to go!— but, when it drives our state of mind while raising support, it can cause us to be impatient, and with impatience comes frustration, and with frustration comes a doubting spirit.

So, the question becomes—what drives your support-raising journey? What drives this journey will shape your conversations, reactions, and even your peace of mind. The rut we often get into, and it’s even emphasized in many Christian organizations, is thinking that, since money is the obstacle for our immediate use and there is a great need for us wherever it may be, then this is what becomes the force that drives us. Get it now, get it quick, and go, go, go.

However, did you catch the personalization of 1 Peter 1:9—He is patient with you. With YOU! Peter didn’t write: He is patient with the rest of the world because they need Christ until we, Christians, hurry up and get there to save people before the day of the Lord comes. His patience is personalized. He is growing you to be mature in Him, and then we get to be used with far-reaching impact. A mature person who takes the time to recognize God at work right where they are has far greater effect than one who just hurries through the process just so they can be used.

Think of raising support as a journey of faith that strips everything away so you can watch your heavenly Daddy perform great things in order to grow you. For some the initial thrust is shorter than others, but either way, it’s an incredible stage to watch His greatness. Patience doesn’t mean we stop working toward our goals and just sit to wait to see what happens, it means we rest in Him for the outcome of our labor. Thank goodness He is patient enough to mold a wretch like me into a jewel to be used for His glory!

  1. Let the awesome reality of God’s use of you sink in, and then praise Him for His patience as He grows you for His purposes.
  2. Shift your focus off the money and onto Christ so you can rest in Him.

God is Trustworthy: The Stone of Truth While Raising Support

 

And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their fathers, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan just what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD you God.”     Joshua 4:20-24 (NIV)

 I have a list that is my “twelve stones” where I can remember when I’ve seen God’s great power in my life. This list includes big and small things like: when we literally had no money, God provided a house for our family to live in completely free for a year; I was given encouraging words at the exact moment I was in need of them; and even the time when I cried out for a wayward piece of mail to be returned, and it oddly showed up through a friend. These are just a few things that prove that God hears my cries down to my smallest wants—and even cares to answer them in His own way.

I keep a remembrance of these things for the very purpose of fixating my mind on praising God through difficult times, because the majority of the things on my list were when God chose to prove Himself mighty in seasons of drought. Even when the results don’t turn out quite how I envision them, I know I can trust God with the course of my life. Why? Because I have a list that allows me to remember just that.

For some the support-raising journey can be a battlefield where anything can happen from conversations not going as expected, running out of people to talk to—you’ve already presented to everyone, including your aunt’s dog groomer, and nothing is happening—or perhaps even getting to a place where God stalls you completely in your tracks. It’s a firestorm that can leave us doubting a trustworthy God. It’s these times you truly understand that the support-raising journey is all about trusting a big God, and you have to make a resolute decision to do just that.

I praise God that He is faithful down to the smallest detail. God doesn’t hand us a plan of action with our entire route planned out from point A to point B with the exact executions of when things will happen. No. He holds that in His hands. He just says, “Trust and follow Me.” When you hit the wall of discouragement, you have to recognize the awesome things that God has been doing along the way, even if they don’t fit your own plan of action.

When God gave us a free house, it was after months of crying out to God in broken anguish for Him to get us out of an utterly futile situation after the door to Africa closed—at least for that season. It was His way of saying, “Heather, I’m still listening, you still can trust Me.” Honestly, in that moment, I felt like saying, “Um, God, I really love the fact that you provided a house for us for free and all, but wouldn’t it have been better just to have taken us to Africa instead? I mean we already raised the money, shouldn’t we get points for that?” But that wasn’t His plan at that exact time; He simply wanted our obedience. As God has proved Himself trustworthy time and time again, I received priceless gifts that shaped me for service on the mission field, when He eventually allowed us to go to Africa.

Make your own “twelve stone” list so that you can praise God as loving, good, and trustworthy. Reflect on that often so you can know and trust Him, especially when your world is rocked.

  1. Take the time to see how God has shown up in your life while raising support.
  2. Set aside your thoughts for the way things should be, and praise Him for being trustworthy with His plan for our life.