How Much Was I Willing to Trust?

One afternoon I walked into our apartment after finishing my part time job teaching English as a second language to Somali refugee children.  I was very emotional and distraught.  I realized I had Ksh 120 ($6 U.S.) on hand to feed Tom, Nancy and myself for the week.  Nancy was a friend from church who was between jobs and needed a place to live for awhile.  We had an empty second bedroom, so were happy to help out.  In lieu of rent, Nancy helped with laundry and cleaning around the house.  Speaking of laundry, I needed to buy detergent out of that money as well!

By this time, Tom and I had gone through most of the money we had brought with us to live on.  What we thought would last six months in reality was enough for three.  We had already started our practice of eating beef or fish once a week and chicken once a week.  The rest of the time we ate vegetables and eggs or dengu (moong beans) and chapatti (a type of flat bread).  We actually liked dengu and chapatti a lot, but flour was also expensive, so I couldn't make it all the time.  We were eating a lot of oatmeal for breakfast. 

It was healthy fare and most of the time we were happy and satisfied.  But then I had days like I mentioned above where I felt so emotional and scared.  I know about this particular day because I found a page in my files last week with notes describing my feelings and scriptures I read to help myself work through the feelings.  The title of the page was "The American Mentality."  In my notes, I wrote that we were going to need to move from our nice two bedroom apartment close to town to something further out that didn't cost as much.  I also noted that in addition to having to buy food for the week, I needed to replace a box of oats that I had borrowed two weeks earlier to make cookies for a special service at church.  I felt resentful that I should have to replace the box of oats because the person I borrowed them from had a job and we didn't.  Immediately, the scripture in Corinthians came to mind that told me to let no debt remain outstanding...I started to cry. 

That afternoon I studied Matthew 6:25-34.  I read about God's promise to take care of us.  I read His admonition not to worry about what we would eat or drink.  God promised to meet our needs if we continued to seek Him first and be righteous in our daily lives.  Those scriptures asked me who could add even an hour to his life by worrying? 

Then I went on to read Matthew 7:7-8.  God advised me to ask, seek and knock and that God would hear and answer.  I had to decide that day if I would trust the promise or not.

The next scripture I read on that difficult day was Philippians 4:11-13.  "...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength."   I realized that God was giving me an opportunity to learn a lesson.  Perhaps He had worked it out so that I would move half way around the world just to learn to be content.  Just so that I would learn to trust Him and his providence.  I knew that if I was going to be successful on this journey in Kenya, I was going to need to change the way I thought about my life.  I wanted to live in a nice apartment close to town.  I wanted convenience and I wanted to be able to tell people I met that I lived in a nice place.  I had always lived in a nice home, a comfortable home.  Many people in the world would say that was okay and an acceptable and normal way to think.  God challenged me that day to think differently.

The clincher for me that day was this:  "As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."  Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."  (Luke 9:57-58).  How far was I willing to go to follow Jesus?  How uncomfortable was I willing to be on this journey?  Radical thinking?  From my American point of view at the time, yes. Some might even venture to say it was foolish to stay.  It was what I needed, though. 

My notes ended there and I don't remember the exact outcome from the week.  I do know that I am still alive, so I didn't starve.  I also never spent a night homeless.  I wish I could say it was a lesson I learned then and have never had to wrestle with discontentment or worry again.  Alas, it is deep in my soul and I work on it often.  But each time I overcome.  I am stronger and more faithful and more determined.   

Lori ZieglerComment