Youth With A Mission (YWAM) whammed me with a huge dose of reality when I attended a discipleship training school in Hawaii. For six months, as I put into practice what I was learning, I listened to pimps and prostitutes bemoan their destiny, handed out tracts to tourists, shared my testimony with defiant youths at a detention center and worked at a Christian coffee house on Hotel Street in the notorious red-light district of Waikiki. I soon realized that this school was not for the faint of heart. The amazing thing was that I loved it!
Before heading home to Southern California, Dave and Debbie Gustaveson, the DTS (discipleship training school) administrators, asked me to reenlist as school secretary for the upcoming year. This was not a paid position. In fact, I needed to raise $200 per month for expenses. As I looked at my bank account, I realized that I had just enough money to cover airfare and a month’s support. This commitment was an enormous leap of faith. But I believed that “God will meet all (my) needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19, NIV). My pastor’s motto was, “Where God guides, God provides.” I believed that if God was in it, then money was no problem! After prayer, I told Dave, “I’ll serve for the next year.”
Back in sunny California, storm clouds of doubt threatened to erode my resolve. I wondered, What should I do? I don’t have the resources to pay for an entire year. Should I wait until I earn all the money needed and then join the staff? Or do I just offer what I have and hope for provision in the future? I spent a lot of prayer time considering this amazing opportunity and my meager resources. One morning, sitting down with my Bible on my lap, I asked God for His advice.
All at once, the Scripture reference 2 Corinthians 8:10 popped into my mind. Immediately, I opened Bible to see what the passage said, This is what I read.
And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has not according to what he has not have (2 Cor. 8:10-12, NIV, emphasis added).
I knew positively that God had spoken and I must obey. So I ran upstairs to tell my family about God’s timely advice.
My dad was not delighted. When I proclaimed, “I’m going back to YWAM to serve as school secretary,” he asked, “How much do they pay?”
I mumbled, “Um, it’s a nonpaying position. But I’ll do it as unto the Lord.”
Then he inquired, “And how much does it cost?”
I hung my head, “I-I need to raise $200 per month.”
Then he put his foot down. “Lenya, I don’t think this is such a good idea. The Bible says to ‘honor thy father and mother.’ You do not have my approval on this.”
I was baffled. God was telling me one thing and my spiritual authority was contradicting it. Who should I obey? I made a beeline for the phone to hear what Dave and Debbie had to say about this. Besides, I had already given them my word. After I explained to them the clarity of God’s Word and my father’s emphatic veto, their reply was, “Submit to your earthly father and trust your heavenly Father to work it out.” Devastated, I resolved to heed their counsel.
Before Dad opened the newspaper that night, I pulled him aside. Assuring him of my love and respect for him, I explained that this was a rare situation in which I was convinced that God had spoken. I showed him the miraculous Scripture passage along with my notes written in the margin, then said, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.”
For several days, Dad said nothing. But one morning at breakfast he confided, “Lenya, I’ve been thinking about what you said. For the last few nights I haven’t slept well. I don’t want to get in God’s way. I’d regret it if some day in the future you doubted God’s voice because I stopped you from obeying it today. If you’re convinced the Lord’s calling you back to YWAM, you have my blessing. But this is your venture of faith. I’ll support you prayerfully but not financially.”
I returned to Hawaii and served alongside Dave and Debbie for the next year. At the halfway point, my dad had a change of heart and began sending monthly financial support. God provided in His time and in His way. And I learned an invaluable lesson on “committing my way to the Lord.” When I offer Him my future, He takes care of the present. Also, when I’m obedient to do His will His way, He can do anything!
Have you ever read a Bible passage that suddenly stands out as vividly as one red evening gown in a sea of little black dresses? “The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). In other words, God’s Word is very now and relevant in your current circumstances. If you’re looking for timely advice, check your Bible first.
In his book On Being a Servant of God, Warren Wiersbe explains the way God uses His Word to direct our paths. He shares,
Okay, You’ve waited on the Lord, prayed and counseled with people you trust and to whom you are accountable, and you’ve decided that God wants you to make a change. But before you write the letter of resignation, wait on the Lord for some word from His Word. No, you don’t open your Bible at random and point to some verse. I’m talking about a special word from God in the course of your regular daily Bible Reading. Or it may come in the course of regular worship. You’ll know that God is speaking to you because the Holy Spirit will make some Scripture vivid and real to you in a way that simply can’t be ignored.