08 Jan What If?
By Phil Waldron, CEO
I just re-read Timothy Keller’s book entitled, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. In the book he tells a story that illustrates how much we should feel the need to be in prayerful conversation with God throughout the day.
He says, “Imagine that you go to the doctor and the doctor says, ‘you have an incurable disease. Nothing that we can do will cure you of this terminal illness. However, there is a pill that you can take on a daily basis that will give you a normal life. The one thing that you have to remember is to take this pill every day because if you don’t you will die immediately. If you miss taking this pill even for one day you will die immediately, and nothing can be done about it.’” Keller then posits the question, “How desperate would you feel about taking this pill?” He then says, “What if this is how we felt about our prayerful communion with God?” How would this type of intense desire for prayerful communion with God look in our everyday lives? What if you and I began this year to seek God in prayer with this same kind of intensity? How would it change who we are and what we do as a result?
As we look back over our experiences these past 15 years here at Mission UpReach and as we look forward to our future, I cannot help but recall many of the scriptures that admonish us to pray with both the faith and trust of a child combined with the desperation of a drowning man. Matthew 7:7-11 comes to mind often. It both encourages and challenges me to seek God in prayer. If you will remember, Jesus says:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
We have often seen God provide in fantastic ways, even in the midst of our struggles. Sometimes at the darkest times in our history, we have seen God provide and bless. This following example that I am about to recount to you really seems to be a very “little” example of what we have seen time and time again with His providence:
Years ago, we were helping a young girl, Cindy Mendez, who has spina bifida and at the time she had two clubbed feet as well. The Shriner’s hospital in Tampa, Florida had agreed to help her, but when we got the confirmed appointment, after almost two full years of work to get her accepted somewhere for treatment, we did not have any money to purchase plane tickets. We had less than two thousand dollars in the Mission UpReach checking account and almost nothing in our personal account. We needed to buy three plane tickets, one for me since at that time I was her legal and medical guardian, one for Donna because I didn’t want to travel alone with Cindy, and one for Cindy.
When we finally got the call with the good news of Cindy’s acceptance into the Shriner’s program, Donna checked the airline ticket price, and they were $800 each. This was a devastating blow after all of the work that had gone into getting Cindy accepted. Emotionally, we “dropped into the sub-basement level.” Donna, Harrison and Laura and I were all together at the time while visiting the Oklahoma Christian University campus, so in a foyer of one of their buildings, we stopped and prayed together as a family. Donna out of curiosity checked the airline ticket price again and they had dropped to $171 each. She immediately bought them. We were ecstatic. We prayed again and thanked God for His provision. After praying a prayer of thanksgiving, out of curiosity, Donna checked the price of airline tickets again and they had gone back up to $800. This was in the space of minutes that all of this transpired. We did not doubt for one second that God had done something wonderful.
This year, we are starting the year with an uphill battle. We did not make our year end campaign goal as we had hoped. And we have been challenged on a number of fronts in our agricultural operation as we renovate our chicken processing plant from manual processing to a more automated, mechanized processing.
Please keep us in your prayers. God truly is the perfect Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children. We pray that this year, 2024, will be a year filled with His presence in our ministries and activities. We pray that His will be done and not our own. We pray that He will send workers to harvest the many, many souls that He has prepared to receive the implanted Word that transforms lives. And we pray that He will imbue us with wisdom and skill in stewarding these valuable resources that He has placed in our hands as leaders of Mission UpReach.