A Christian coach witnesses crises in his personal life, his professional life, and his spiritual life. He doesn’t see God at work. A godly prayer warrior tells him about two farmers who desperately need rain. Both farmers pray for rain, but only one of them goes out and prepares his fields to receive it. “Which one are you?” asks the godly man. “God will send the rain when he’s ready. You need to prepare your field to receive it. “
I love this scene from the Christian film, Facing the Giants. It spoke to me during a time of spiritual drought in our ministry. For a variety of reasons we had lost a number of core families in our small mission church. As a result we had only a few kids in our youth group, a few kids who came to our Discovery Club, and no one under 18 who came to Sunday School. As I came to the New Year I was itching to plan out the year’s activities: Sunday School, youth programs, and ladies’ activities. But how could I plan when we had so few people to plan around? I soon figured out that this would not be a plan-ahead year. It was a year of faith, a step-by-step year, when we could only plan a few weeks ahead at a time.
After much prayer and thought we totally reinvented our kids’ and youth program. We combined them into one Friday night program that included both age groups. Each week I taught a Bible story with applications that would target the larger age group.
It was risky. Would the youth quit coming when the younger kids joined them? Would the younger ones be overwhelmed by the higher athletic ability of the youth? How could I teach the eight-to- eighteen age group effectively?
This might not be the ideal program in most situations, but the Lord led us into it and we followed. The Lord blessed. Our particular blend of kids and youth accepted the broader age range. Some nights we had less kids or less youth, but with the combined group we always had enough to play games. It was unusual, but it was working.
In April a new family started coming regularly. They enjoyed our Discover program, but also came Sunday mornings during our adult Sunday School time. I had told the Lord in January that if a family actually started bringing their kids to Sunday School I would teach them, so I did. Now I had a class with an age range from three to fourteen. It was different, but it worked. Then another new family moved to town and started coming. They had three children, two of which really need a nursery. We needed to reinvent some of our other church programs.
Today our church is stronger, but I still need to go to church sometimes with plan A, B, and C in my briefcase. God is blessing our church, and sometimes it doesn’t seem to be in direct relation to our efforts. Still I believe we need to prepare for rain. We need to be faithful to prepare for people we don’t yet have, for ministries we haven’t yet started. God will honor these acts of faith, the faithful expectation of his blessing. It may not be in the way we expect, but the Bible clearly shows that only God can work in hearts, yet he expects us to do our part too.
What about you? Maybe you’re an organizer like me and you’d like to plan all kinds of exciting events but you are in a drought period. Maybe everything is changing and you can’t plan ahead because you don’t know how many workers you’ll have or how many kids will commit to program practice. Maybe you’d like to start a Bible study or new ministry but you’re afraid no one will be interested. Maybe your ministry is in crisis and you wonder if it will even continue. You can only see a faint glimpse of God’s leading and you’re afraid to take the next step. What do you do?
Take the next step that God leads you to take, praying for the Lord to direct you step by step. God may prosper your present endeavor or he may use the things that don’t work to move you in another direction. But he will lead you if you sincerely want to follow him.
Faith is that next prayerful step into a dark future. It’s the farmer who prepares his field during a drought. It’s the servant who labors on when her work seems to be in vain.
“Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV)
How’s your faith today?
P.S. In December I announced that I planned to launch my new book on January 15. One reader wrote: I can’t find your book on Amazon. Did I miss something? She didn’t. Due to circumstances beyond my control the book has not been released. I expect it to be up in the next week or so. Don’t worry, if you’re following my blog or Facebook Page, you won’t miss it when the time comes.
[The dry ground picture is for viewing purposes only and may not be saved or downloaded.]