Some of our friends loaned us a wonderful book that we've been reading. It's called Lady on a Donkey, by Beth Prim Howell. I had never heard of this book, but it is a treasure. It's one that gets the beautiful chant from our children: "Read one more chapter, Mama. Please...just one more chapter!" It is the story of Lillian Trasher who was a missionary to Egypt and worked with hundreds of orphans. As we've been reading through it, I've felt the Holy Spirit impress many things on my heart. Lillian trusted God for everything...their daily food, their clothing, etc. They lived hand-to-mouth, which we tend to shun in American society...but for Lillian, it was a beautiful daily gift "from God's Hand to Lillian's mouth." This simple trust propels me forward in the same direction. I YEARN for that simple trust in my Heavenly Father, and that appears to be the road He's walking me down with many lessons in practicing this simple faith that is profound enough to move mountains. And the one lesson that stands out to me above all the others in this book is: SILENCE.
When there was no more food in the orphanage (every few days or so), Lillian would climb onto her donkey in search of food for all the children. Before her donkey set out on the journey, she would pray, "Which way do I go, Lord?" And then she'd sit in total silence waiting for (expecting!) His voice. She'd hear Him, and she'd head out in the direction He said. Sometimes to the north, sometimes to the south, sometimes to a new village, sometimes to a village she had visited before...but ALWAYS in the direction He told her. And every time she'd arrive at the intended village, they would always give her precisely what she needed for all the children in the orphanage. When we first began to read the book, we'd hold on in suspense as we hoped in our hearts that she'd find the food and supplies she needed. And, after watching God answer time after time, soon we began to KNOW in our hearts that she'd receive all she needed. Why? Because Lillian would always sit quietly on that donkey and wait in silence for God to tell her which direction to go that day. With that step in place, we grew to expect her to always receive what she needed.
This is an area where God has been growing me for months now...being quiet before Him. Up until now, the lessons have revolved around simply being quiet in faith that He's working on something that I'm tempted to stick my hands into to "help." Up until now, the "be still and quiet before God" lessons have centered around me just waiting while He works on something. But now, the lessons are beginning to challenge me toward Lillian's type of silence. She was silent in expectation of Him telling her which way to point her feet that day...silent as she waited for Him to tell her what she should do that very moment in her life. This is a radical trust. It's the from-moment-to-moment trust that most of us don't dare to dip our toes into. I had to wonder WHY we don't rely on God as fully as Lillian did, and I believe it's because 1) we are self-sufficient with our jobs, our income, our insurance, our many safety nets and rainy-day savings...we are so self-sufficient that we have no need to be God-dependent unless it's a "big thing" that we cannot handle ourselves...and 2) we don't like to wait in silence.
This led me to a very intriguing idea... What if I could somehow move into that standing-on-thin-air faith that Lillian had...the same faith that George Mueller had...the kind of faith that only comes when 100% of my hope is in God, with no other security but Him. What kinds of things would change in my life? What miracles and treasures am I missing out on because my hands are too full holding onto my earthly securities?
I'm not advocating that anyone gets rid of insurance and quits their job! I'm saying that for me in my life, God keeps leading me into deeper dependence on Him. And I find that I can only go so far into that mode because there's a roped-off section of my life where I prefer to have control...to make sure my safety nets are in place "just in case." And what a radical idea it is to contemplate what life would be like if HE ALONE was my only hope...the sustainer of my every day existence. Definitely not for the faint of heart! But Lillian Trasher's and George Mueller's lives are so beautiful that it makes one wonder what we may be missing out on.
P.S. As I was getting ready to hit the "Publish" button, something jumped out at me... Lillian Trasher and George Mueller lived in different places and different time periods, but interestingly, they had almost identical types of faith. Their faith led to similar life experiences...full reliance on God for daily needs to feed, clothe and minister to ORPHANS. And here I live in yet another place and another time period, and God is leading me deeper into this same type of faith. He's given me the same calling of caring for orphans. Perhaps each person who truly follows His steps into orphan ministry MUST have radical faith. Perhaps to truly have life-changing ministry among orphans REQUIRES a faith so true that God Himself is our only hope. Perhaps the verse He led me to years ago (before I could ever understand its meaning) is the key to orphan ministry: Hosea 14:3 "Assyria cannot save us, nor can our strength in battle. Never again will we call the idols we have made 'our gods.' No, in you alone do the orphans find mercy." Perhaps my life has to be so fully completely radically dependent on God so that the orphans can readily find HIS mercy in me...my hope fully reliant on Him so that when the orphan looks to me, he finds instead my Heavenly Father who meets every need. Oh, Lord, please let this sink into my heart and become part of me!