I am a Pastor.
I’ve been a Pastor for nearly 7 years.
This December, as we have and continue to celebrate Christmas / New Years at our church and many others, I’ve painted.
That’s right, I’ve painted. I’ve painted one wall, and then another. I’ve ripped up base boards, I’ve pulled out nails, I’ve removed screws, I’ve cleaned walls, and I’ve painted.
I recently found myself saying, “the best fundraising I’ve ever done was on my knees.”
On the 28th of November, my wife and I returned to our full-time missionary life in America, from a short trip to Australia.
We found ourselves in a situation where we had very full Aussie hearts, and very empty American wallets.
I decided to practice what I preach. I went into my walk-in wardrobe, I lay on the floor with my grandmothers’ Bible, a dollar bill I’d scribbled financial promises on, and I prayed.
“God, you heard the prayer of my grandmother for her grandchildren, you’ve spoken to me, you’ve spoken to my family, I’m asking you to come through as you always have. I call to mind all your miracles and I pray for another.”
The next day I received two interesting requests. One was to go to a bank with a friend because we’d been donated a large sum of money, enough to get us through December and pay our bills.
The second was a request to paint. Would I paint a friends father’s house?
We recently got our work permits, and we needed the cash, so I said “yes”.
I’ll be honest with you. It’s been one of the hardest months for me.
I’ve been doing full-time Pastoring or Seminary student work for nearly 7 years now.
To go from that to painting has been humbling. Not because I see painting as any less than Pastoring, but because I am called to Pastoring, it’s my “sweet spot” and it hurts not to be in it. Don’t worry, I’m not quitting Pastoring… I’ve just had to go bi-vocational this month.
And so, as I’ve painted, I’ve taken the opportunity to pray.
I don’t know about you, but when I go through a season where I feel like I’m not where I want to be, or maybe even where I should be (although that would be too far in this instance because I did feel this was an answer to my finance prayer)… the first prayer I pray is “why?”
“Why God? I want to be at Z but instead I’m at Y?”
So, I painted and I prayed.
And I waited.
The more walls I painted, the more walls I felt I was banging up against in my prayers.
“What do you want me to learn through this season God?”
“What am I doing here painting for money? I’m a Pastor, why aren’t you providing the money through Pastoring alone?”
Three weeks into painting, as I prayed more and more, I found myself with an opportunity to meet with a friend of mine’s mentor.
We had coffee, I was exhausted and don’t remember all that he said, but he shared something with me that resonated so strongly with me that I can’t stop thinking about it.
He said that in his experience with Scripture, he’s seen that there are four levels of faith.
The first level is no faith. Clearly not a good thing.
The second is saving faith, faith that God can save people. Basic, good, saving faith.
The third is little faith.
Little faith is always linked to protection and provision. Think Peter sinking on the stormy seas and Jesus saying he had little faith, for surely it is an easy thing for God to protect him from drowning. Think Matthew 6:30 “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” (NIV) Surely it is easy for God to provide for us. To believe for protection or provision for ourself from God is little faith.
Then there is the fourth level, great faith.
Great faith is always linked to faith for others. Think the centurion (Matthew 8:5-13) having faith for his paralyzed servant. Jesus said He hadn’t come across such great faith before in all of Israel!Think the woman having faith for her daughter to be healed (Matthew 15:28), Jesus says she has “great faith”.
That day, after meeting with that man, I painted again.
This time, as I painted and prayed I realized the answer to my prayer, “Why?”
The painting was never about painting, it was about the focus of my prayer… and I’m not just talking about while I painted, I’m talking about most of my prayers for the last two years.
For the past two years we’ve been living “by faith” in America. For the past two years I’ve been praying for provision and God has always provided, and I feel like I’ve now hit a wall (both the one drying in front of me, and the one called my prayer life). I pray, God provides, then what? Surely life is more than food and clothing (I’ve read that somewhere in the Bible!).
And so, as I wrap up a month of painting I walk out of that house different to how I walked in, with a new focus and a new energy.
It’s time to start believing for miracles for others. It’s time to start praying for our neighbors by name, daily, and not so they would come and be a part of what we are doing, but that God’s greatest for their lives would become a reality regardless of the implications for us.
It’s time to have great faith.
I can’t believe I’ve been so selfish in 2015! I pray, 2016, by God’s grace, will be a year of praying boldly… for others.
Provision in 2016, that’s easy for my King… miracles for others, still totally doable by my God, but it’s going to take some great faith on my part. I can’t wait to step into this next season!
How can I pray for you? Send me a message or comment below.
If you feel like you’re stuck in a “painting season”, let me encourage you. God may have the most amazing lesson for you to learn through this. Keep looking to Him.
Have a Happy and Great Faith filled New Year,
IF YOU’VE ENJOYED THIS BLOG, OR ANY OF MY OTHERS, I HAVE GOOD NEWS FOR YOU. COMING EARLY 2016… MY FIRST BOOK. SEND ME AN EMAIL FOR DETAILS OR KEEP CHECKING BACK IN AT THESCARBOROUGHS.COM