The tagline for Lily and Sofie's homeschool curriculum is Sonlight : The way you wish you'd been taught.
I may not have been a Sonlight kid, but I sure am learning a lot now, though their curriculum is first grade and pre-k! And this might be hard to believe for some of you, but until we started into a thick biography on the life and ministry of George Muller a few months ago, I had never heard of him. Even the girls told me THEY had heard of him from a short Veggie Tales excerpt, but not me.
Having just finished it yesterday, I cannot BELIEVE I lived 32 years NOT knowing about this inspirational testimony of a life well-lived by bold and simple faith.
We've read a LOT of good books through Sonlight the last few years but this one was the first that I can honestly say is changing the way I think and the way I pray.
If you're like me and don't know much about Muller, give me a second to fill you pitifully-short in.
The awesome part about Muller, however, was the way he trusted God with a depth and simplicity rarely seen. Muller trusted in the Lord to provide for he and the orphans, and his life was peppered with literally thousands of miracles in which there was NOTHING...he asked God to provide...and He miraculously did.
George made a commitment to never ask ANYONE but God for ANYTHING, to never purchase anything until the money had been provided (no debt), and to never spend a penny on something it wasn't directly intended for. Time and time and time again, the Lord called, equipped and provided for others to provide, with even milk carts breaking down outside their doors as hundreds of children sat at breakfast with empty cups and prayed.
As Muller asked God, God woke people, moved people, spoke to people, gave to people, and provided. I mean, millions of dollars went through this man's hands throughout his lifetime (he died in 1898), over ten thousand orphans came through his homes, and he NEVER passed up an opportunity to preach and tell people about God, and he NEVER saw the Lord not provide for His children. When he died, he had only 160 pounds to his estate, and yet supported the orphanages, spent 115,000 pounds running Sunday schools and regular schools around the world, used 90,000 pounds for printing and distributing Bibles, over 260,000 pounds supporting missionaries, and much of his work still carries on today!
It is even said that there was a list of people Muller prayed over daily to become Christ-followers. Throughout his lifetime, every single one of those people came to Christ, but for one. The last gave his life to Christ at Muller's funeral!
Do you know that besides the $300/year we receive in exchange for writing a weekly devotional for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, every penny we live on is a gift? Do you know how EASY it is to fall into worry over that? Short months? Hospital bills? Three babies, schooling, Matt's continued education, rent, food, insurance, travel, Christmas. I don't need to tell you :) YOU know.
And I look out over the students playing soccer in their bare feet, giggling like kids, and smell garlic in hot oil as dinner is being prepared for them, and there is THAT. There is the money for the generator, for the food, for the teachers, for the staff, for the water, for the internet, for the books, for the outreach, for emergencies, for Bibles, for the food! (did I already mention food? Ah, the amount of food for such rail-y men!) I can very easily start to worry about all that, let me tell you. All of it, again, aside from the small bits scraped in by faith by the students, is faith-based giving and prayer-based support.
Like George and all the rest of us, money isn't the only thing that could be worried about, but there are just so many details that occupy our hearts, too. Decisions to make, things that are needed, concerns, hopes, fears, what-ifs.
Lately, "thinking" about money and a few major decisions have threatened to become WORRY in my life. Though He has ALWAYS been faithful. Though He has ALWAYS made a way. And as I've been begging for Him to speak into certain situations, as I've been asking Him to provide, I've been reading about Muller, little by little.
Now, we might live fully on support and work to raise and keep full support for our Seminary family and for our family.
But I have NEVER come CLOSE to trying to provide for thousands of orphans.
And neither did Muller. He simply asked the Lord to, with amazing faith.
As I've been praying for those concerns and needs lately, I have found myself greatly touched by Muller's faith, and found myself putting more and more simply in His hands. George buried both his children, both his wives, and yet he spoke at 92 of being a happy old man, never alone, "for You are with me, which is better than life!"
I've listed out those things that concern me today and a list of people I had wearied praying salvation for, and tagged them up in my place of peace, and I am praying simple prayers to the God who already knows, choosing faith. And I am asking Him to wake me in the night, if He must, to use me to be His provision for others.
George has reminded me that God is big enough, that these students and my family are HIS, not mine, and that God would be able to do so much more in my life if I relied on Him fully.
(ps--if you want to learn more about Muller or share the story of this father of our faith with your family, we read this version: "George Muller, The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans by Janet and Geoff Benge!)