One day my son Andrew, who was two at the time, was scrounging through the last few items of a prize box we had made up for him. He would receive the prestigious award of a dollar-store toy every time he did something exceptionally well. His brother Gavin, who was three at the time, was feeling left out and wanting to get a prize as well. I asked Andrew if he would please consider sharing one of his remaining prizes with Gavin, especially since Gavin had been really good that day. Andrew didn’t answer immediately, opting instead to pretend as though I hadn’t said a word. As he continued exploring the remaining prizes, he seemed to be internally resisting the idea of giving one of them away.
I continued to ask Andrew to share, and he continued to ignore me, causing Gavin to get more and more concerned. “He’s not going to share!” I could feel his impending sense of misfortune as he fretted over what was starting to look to him like a missed opportunity.
As he grew more and more upset, I reassured him, “Little buddy, Daddy’s going to reward you. You don’t have to worry about it at all. If Andrew doesn’t share with you, I’ll go to the store and get you whatever toy you want. I just wanted to give Andrew the opportunity to share with you.” As soon as I said that, I felt God speaking into my own situation.
I had been trying to get the initial funding to start a Christian publishing company God had placed in my heart. Even though there are business aspects of publishing, it’s very much a ministry and a calling for me. I had meetings, made phone calls, and sent emails to well-connected, wealthy people—people who believe and explicitly state that it is their primary gift and calling to provide funding for God’s Kingdom. Some of them responded initially with enthusiasm but then failed to follow up. Most of them didn’t respond at all.
As I waited, the days and weeks kept passing, and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting any responses. I knew God had put the ministry on my heart, and I was working towards that goal, but I wasn’t seeing any results. No one was coming alongside me to partner with me financially. However, at that moment with my son, I knew that one way or another God was going to step in and give me everything I needed. He was just giving someone else the opportunity to participate first.
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
That verse doesn’t say, “The wealthy person you met yesterday will supply every need of yours.” There’s not even a hint or suggestion that “the job you interviewed for last week is your only chance at getting out of a financial mess.” When an opportunity or a good connection comes our way, we may have a tendency to focus on that person or situation as a means of provision. But God has a myriad of ways He can use to provide.
He’s never depending on a single person or situation. He’s just giving people opportunities to bless you and to participate in what He’s doing in your life, but the choice is ultimately theirs. He’s never going to force people to do anything, and not every person or situation we connect with ends up being a good fit for us. That’s why we have to stay focused on our mission and on God as our source of provision.
As for the financial problem we had to overcome to get started with our publishing, God gave us just enough to produce our first book. At just the right time, my aunt came along and gave me an old collection of Hot Wheels that had been in my family for many years. She said to me, “You can keep them and pass them on to your kids, or feel free to sell them if they have significant value. It’s totally up to you.”
In the natural, the timing seemed random. Of course, it was anything but. She’d had these antique toys in her possession for about 15 years, and out of the blue, she decided to pass them on to us. As it turns out, they did have significant value, and the amount provided was just enough to cover the expenses associated with getting that first book out. Since that time, God has continued to provide more resources in various ways, because that’s what He does. That’s who He is. He’s not just a provider. He is The Provider.