Faith fuels faith. This is the takeaway from the last two weeks, spending many hours behind the wheel zipping along at 75 mph, driving nearly 4500 miles from California to Iowa to Missouri and back home, visiting friends and family along the way.
Driving across country with four kids, ages 5 to 14, could be a recipe for disaster, but oh the glory of audio stories! We spent countless hours listening together. I shed many a tear as I was introduced to a hero of the faith, Lillian Trasher, who founded the first orphanage in Egypt in the early 1900’s. By faith, she heard God’s call on her life when she was a teenager, redirecting her to minister to orphans and widows. She lived by faith every day and at her times of greatest need, God was faithful to meet those needs. Her greatest demonstration of that faith was love offered through service, boldly living for God.
Julie’s uncle Leroy and wife Judy hosted us in their home during our 5 days in Iowa. Leroy has courageously been battling lymphoma cancer and the many side effects of treatment over the past nine years. Sitting at the breakfast table alone together one morning, I listened intently as he delighted in his kids, grandkids, and in his wife Judy, looking forward to more time together as she moves to part-time at her work. He reassured me that he was ready “to go home” when the time came. Faith like that is truly inspiring and humbling.
In a playground in Chesterfield, Missouri, I sat on a bench and wept after reading an email bringing bad news of the spread of cancer in our brother, Mike Lawrence’s body. Mike has demonstrated incredible faith, serving the Lord as the chair of our elder board through the past year and a half as our church family has learned to love and trust one another, strengthening our trust and hope in the Lord. While this news broke my heart for Mike and Paula and their family as they weather this storm, I was overcome with thanksgiving. My faith continues to be strengthened by their example of trusting the Lord and living their lives for his glory regardless of their circumstances. I continue to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation and devoted to prayer for this dear man and his family.
When I could sneak a few moments alone, I read the book, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. What an inspiration and encouragement I received from this biography written in 1932 by his two youngest children. His secret was one that I have long known to be true, but how beautifully he lived it. God uses the least to do his work. Our job is to cease striving, rest in God’s grace and love, let him do his work through us as we come to know and delight in him. Mr. Taylor’s favorite worship song declares, Jesus I am resting, resting, in the joy of what Thou art. I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart. Oh that I will nurture a growing faith like that, facing each day, doing the work God has called me to do through simply abiding in Jesus.
As I have shared this takeaway from my vacation, many people have told me their own stories about how God has directed their lives and met their needs as they have stepped out in faith. Our pastoral candidate, Todd Arnett and his family, willing to leave a thriving ministry and dear family at High Desert Church to come and join us and lead us as our next senior pastor, are demonstrating faith. Their faith, encourages my faith. All of us at Trinity are beginning to see how God has been graciously leading us to this wonderful convergence of our two families.
I spent many hours filling up at gas stations across the country on my road trip. Likewise, these stories and conversations filled my faith tank to overflowing. In the words of the Apostle Paul, God imparts a spiritual gift to make us strong, whenever we connect on a heart level with faithful members in the body of Christ. (Romans 1:11) Thanks, Father for this gift. May our faith be pleasing to you, and your Son, Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.