“I just don’t think I can afford it.”
Have you ever said those words to yourself or to someone else? Maybe you were thinking about buying new furniture and realized the budget just wasn’t available. Or maybe you were planning a dream vacation and the financial numbers just didn’t add up. Or, maybe some friends asked you to go to a concert that was really expensive and your Dave Ramsey fun money envelope was empty. What did you end up reluctantly saying?
“I just don’t think I can afford it.”
If we are honest, we have all said those words at some point in our lives. That’s not all bad. We need to make good financial decisions and we are called in Scripture to be good stewards of our resources. So being good stewards often means that we have to just say no.
But sometimes I wonder if we carry that thinking too far, especially when it comes to our spiritual lives and specifically short term mission trips.
We come up with many excuses to not go on a short term mission trip, but the most common is probably “I just don’t think I can afford it.” And I get it. This was my big excuse for many years. I would look at a trip cost and think: “There is just no way I can afford this trip. It’s too expensive. It’s too far. I have to take too much time off from work.” But God challenged me to stop putting Him in a box – an environment that only I can see and control.
So, to break this doubt we need to remember that God is faithful in providing for everything you and I need, especially when it comes to building His kingdom and sharing Christ around the world. In fact, He delights to provide for you so that you can carry out your disciple-making mission. Paul reminds the church of this crucial truth that is now deeply embedded in my heart and testimony:
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency, in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Cor. 8:9”
God will give you everything so that you can abound in every good work. That is all encompassing. He will provide everything need – time, money, child-care, etc. But the real question is do you and I believe that truth. Because if we do, then we must step out in faith and act on that truth.
George Mueller was a pastor and missionary to England. God called him to care for orphans, share the Gospel, and disciple fellow believers. His testimony is one of simple, reliant faith. He prayed for God to provide everything he needed believing that God would do so and he records over and over again the faithfulness of God in his autobiography. He says this:
“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.”
I love this wisdom. Could it be that we don’t experience the incredible faithfulness of God and have those amazing, unexplainable stories that we so admire in others because we are not putting ourselves in positions where God is the only one who can work? Lord, forgive us of our short-sightedness and help us overcome our unbelief.
But there is another issue we need to consider and that is selfishness. When we say “I just don’t think I can afford it” we are really just thinking about ourselves. When I made this excuse in the past, that was exactly my thought. I couldn’t pay for it by myself and I didn’t want to burden other people. It was “me” focused. But that is not God’s design. He gives us a body of believers for a reason – to build each other up and support one another as we pursue God.
So, If God calls me or you to go, and he does – he calls all of us – then He will provide. And often that provision is through our church community and the brothers and sisters in Christ in our Life-Groups and Bible Studies. In a way, we are robbing others of an opportunity to obey God by giving to His mission if we say “I just don’t think I can afford it” and that is selfish. God works faithfully in our faith and obedience to Him as we give and go together.
In Matthew 14:22-33 we see one of my favorite “faith” stories in the Gospels. Jesus was teaching all day and finally dismissed the crowds. He told the disciples to get in a boat and row to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus told them he would meet up with them after he prayed alone. While Jesus was praying a great wind blew and waves crashed upon the disciples in the boat. It was in that moment that Jesus walked out to them on the water. They were terrified but Jesus said to the disciples to not be afraid. Then Peter called out and said, “Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” A weird request for proof, but that’s why I love Peter. So Jesus said, “Come.” And Peter obeyed. He got out of the boat and walked on the water to meet Jesus. Peter walked on water! What a cool part of Peter’s testimony that he could share later as he spread the good news of Jesus to the world.
When it comes to short term mission efforts, God patiently called me out of the boat. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I never thought that I would be leading mission trips every year because I thought wrongly that I just couldn’t ever afford it. But, I obeyed God and got out of the boat. Now, I have so many stories of God’s faithfulness and unexpected financial provision in my life to share with my children and those who need the hope of Jesus around me. It’s time for you to get out of the boat and expand your testimony. Will you?
If you would like to learn more about short term national and international mission trips please visit warrenintheworld.com, sign up today, and watch God work!