Last month, I started serving in a new position at the Portland Chinese Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. This brings to an end a transition period that has lasted a year and a half. Now that things are beginning to settle down, I want to share my reflections about this time of transition.
An Uncertain Future
When we moved up to Oregon from California, all our friends assured us that we would be able to find new jobs very quickly. “With your skills, you won’t have any problem finding new positions.” Unfortunately, we believed them. But finding new positions turned out to be more challenging than we had imagined. We had our ideas about how things would go and a projected timeline. What happened was something else. Like many people, I like to have a plan and know where I am going. We get a sense of security from knowing what (we think) is going to happen. But in reality, there is much that is beyond our control. This transition was a reminder of that. Ultimately, only the Lord really knows what is going to happen. Our plans are only tentative. We need to trust in Him.
“The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Prov. 16:9)
Despite our very limited income during this time, we have always had a place to live and food to eat. My former church generously provided some financial support. I was able to earn some income as a freelance web developer. Relatives and friends offered us places to stay. There were two occasions on which it was nearly time to move out, but I wasn’t sure where we would go. But God always provided for our needs.
That experience inspired the title to this post. For nearly 40 years in the wilderness, Israel had to rely on God on a daily basis for their sustenance. Each morning they gathered manna, and it could not be kept for the next day (except for the Sabbath). Each day they had to trust God to provide a fresh supply of manna. This is a long ways from our usual experience. We set up savings accounts and financial safety nets. We have insurance. We like to think that we are prepared for anything that might happen. In that situation, we don’t feel much need to trust in God for daily provision. We already have that covered.
Thankfully, we were not forced to spend everything we had in our emergency fund. We were never down to our last dime. We still had insurance. But we realized that we couldn’t simply live off of our savings, and that forced us to trust in God’s provision. Now that we have our own place to live again, God continues to be gracious to us. Friends have given us a washer/dryer, a leather couch, and a brand new kitchen table and chairs. God is still taking care of us.
Even in the midst of this transition, I sensed that God was allowing us to face uncertainty in order to teach us to rely on Him. Maybe I had become a little too comfortable working in the same church position and living in the same house for 17 years. House plants grow better if they are transplanted once in a while. I guess we needed to face a change as well.