China Inland Mission founder Hudson Taylor famously said, “God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack God’s supply.”
This is one of the most commonly cited quotes among Christian organizations when it comes to their fundraising, and it is one of my favorite quotes as well…though for a different reason.
Taylor’s quote is typically understood to mean, “If we just stay faithful to doing the ministry God has given us, we’ll have enough money to pay the bills.”
But notice that’s not quite what Taylor said.
It’s the final phrase that’s the kicker:
Whoever said that God supplies in clean, crisp, unmarked hundred dollar bills?
A quick check of the Old and the New Testaments reveals surprisingly few occasions where God, like a gracious grandparent commemorating a birthday, sends cash.
One could certainly protest that this is because in Bible times cash was a rarity. But really now…
There’s a common thread that runs through all God’s giving, namely:
When God gives a gift, the recipient must be transformed in order to be able to receive it.
In fact, you’d almost think that what God was seeking to accomplish through His giving was not only provision but transformation…
Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Mt 7:9-11)
I suspect one of the grave ways we impoverish ourselves as missionaries and nonprofit ministry organizations is that our engines run only on cash; every other kind of gift (and here I’m not talking only about gifts-in-kind but people, especially the various and sundry kind, offering themselves as if they were treasure–the audacity!) just seems to choke the motor.
Taylor’s promise was not that God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack for our supply. Rather, his contention was that God would supply as a good Father giving good gifts to His children. Kids always want cash, but sometimes parents know that other gifts are far more needed by their children.
Think through the scriptures at the gifts God gave, and how each one required an “engine conversion” for the recipient to be able to run on it.
Think through the gifts God has given your ministry–and is continuing to give your ministry–and ask yourself, “What kind of ‘engine conversion'”–i.e., personal and corporate transformation–“is God calling me/us to in order to be able to ‘run’ on this…without growing weary?”
That kind of approach might lead us to suspect that in the midst of recession there’s really no downturn in giving at all…