During November we’re focusing on trusting God for provision. Please see the Monthly Prayer Focus page to read our strategic prayer request for this month.
By Jim Bliffen
Trusting God to provide all we need often proves to be a difficult exercise of our faith. We often worry about future events, attacks of the evil one, difficulties that may arise, and the list goes on and on. But I have come to believe that if we do not trust in God’s provision to be enough to sustain us, we simply have no faith in God. I was faced with this crisis of faith the same as all who have come to the mission field have had to face it at one time or another. Would God actually provide all the resources we needed to come to the mission field? Could He really do that?
As Joni and I were preparing to come to PNG, we were trying to straddle the fence of faith and maintaining our security of nice jobs with good pay and a nice house that we owned. We had our house on the market for several months when we finally decided to leave our jobs at the end of July 2013 and begin raising funds full time for a month before we traveled to Dallas in order to begin our residency training. At the time we had only raised about 40% of our needed budget and had no offer on our house. Few people had even bothered to look at it. Nevertheless kept to our plan. On the first day of August we had a contract for the sale of our house that paid back all the money we had invested in it, and a schedule full of speaking engagements for the entire month. When we arrived in Dallas those first days of September we had sold the house and raised about 65% of our budget and several thousands of dollars toward our estimated startup funds. By December we were at 100% of all estimated funds needed. It wasn’t until we got off the fence and became fully reliant on God, trusting His provision, that He provided all we needed. Through the whole process I always believed that He would. I never doubted it for a second. I didn’t know how it would all work out, but I knew that He had called us to the mission field so He would work it all out in the end. I did not want to live my life in fear but rather chose to live by faith.
During this time I was reminded of a Civil War General by the name of George McClellan. He was a commander that Lincoln put in charge of the main Union army in Virginia. He was a man who always felt outnumbered and defeated. I say he felt outnumbered because it simply was never true. He raised an army of about 195,000 men but refused to attack because the South had convinced him they had an army that was even bigger. The truth was that there were perhaps 60,000 men that stood between McClellan and the Southern capital of Richmond, VA. Frozen by his fear McClellan continued to train his army and send requests to Washington for more men and supplies. Lincoln got so frustrated with him that he sent him a letter saying that if McClellan wasn’t going to be using the army he would like to borrow it for a while and go attack the enemy. When McClellan finally did get his army moving he had great success against a vastly outnumbered enemy. In an engagement called the Peninsula Campaign, McClellan pushed the enemy back to the very edge of Richmond. However, when a new Southern General named Robert E. Lee took command of the Confederates and began attacking McClellan’s army McClellan began retreating. In seven days, through a series of several engagements, Lee defeated McClellan’s army even though, in a few of those engagements, McClellan’s army actually won. He always thought that he lost and continued to retreat.
Lincoln finally had no choice but to remove George McClellan as the leader of his army. Later, having no alternative, McClellan was restored to his position. Once again he was pitted against the army lead by Lee. At that point McClellan received a great gift from one of his men. An order from Lee had been found in an abandoned Confederate camp that told all of Lee’s plans, his number of troops, where they were going, and what they would be trying to do. When he received it, McClellan cried out, “With this information, if I can’t whip Bobby Lee, I shall be willing to go home.” Nevertheless, McClellan hesitated to pursue Lee which gave Lee time to consolidate most of his forces outside a small town called Sharpsburg, VA. McClellan caught up to Lee on September 15, 1862. He planned an attack for the next day but because there was fog in the morning he postponed until September 17. All the while Lee continued to build fortifications for his army which was less than half the size of his enemy. Always afraid that he was outnumbered even though he had information to the contrary, McClellan only managed to get 60% of his 75,750 troops engaged in his attack on the 17th against Lee’s 38,000 men. He held the remainder in reserve. In the engagement known as the battle of Antietam both sides combined had losses of over 22,000 casualties. It is still the bloodiest single day in the history of American warfare. They fought to a statistical draw but the battle is considered a Northern tactical victory because Lee was forced by his losses to withdraw. McClellan failed to pursue Lee even though the men he held in reserve now outnumbered Lee’s men nearly two to one. Paralyzed by fear and a lack of trust in his provisions, McClellan derided his commander in chief, ignored his orders, and refused to move in pursuit of his enemy. Lincoln finally had no choice but to remove George again, this time permanently.
Finally, a new general would come to lead the Union Armies. He wasn’t a particularly great strategist or a brilliant leader like General Lee, but he understood the war and his enemy. He knew that he couldn’t lose because those that were with him were greater than the ones that opposed him. He knew his had vastly superior resources and he was never afraid of being outnumbered. If Lee outfought him, which he often did, he just kept coming and refused to quit. His name was U.S. Grant and he lead his Union forces to victory because of a strategy he formulated called total war. He always believed in his ultimate victory and he fought that way.
That is the way I want to fight my battles. I believe that the Lord is my provider and that His resources are without limit. I believe that He will provide all that His people need to be victorious in this life if they will trust Him. I know that at times it seems Satan has God’s people outnumbered but it is only an illusion. Greater is He that is with us than he that is in the world. Let us fight this battle from the knowledge that Satan is defeated, even though still dangerous, and trust the promises of God that He can and will provide all the resources we need to overcome him.
Jim serves in the area of Scripture Impact.