Many people ask, “How are your needs met in Anawim?” Our response is always, “God provides for us.” We are usually rebuffed at this point, as if we didn’t really answer their question. Yes, we receive donations from many people, both financially and stuff. But we do not often ask for donations, and when they come, we know that God must have told these people to give to us.
It is easy to develop a ministry based on donations. Building trust so that people would be comfortable to donate to your ministry takes time, but once some donations come in, then you can establish the ministry based on what you receive. If you receive food, you can have a food ministry. If you receive clothes, you can have a clothes ministry. But the way we always ran Anawim is not to have our ministry based on what we receive or on what people think we ought to do, but one what God’s will is. God called us to a certain ministry, to do specific tasks. We will do those tasks, even if we do not receive donations to do those tasks, even if we aren’t appreciated for what we do.
Ezekiel and Jeremiah were both called to similar tasks. They were told by God to speak his word to people who wouldn’t listen (Jeremiah 1:14-19; Ezekiel 2). This seems like a fruitless task. I can hear people today counseling these prophets on their call: “If no one listens to you, why do it? And besides, how are you going to make a living? If no one listens to you, how will you gain what you need to live? There’s not much money on laying on your side for a year, or for being thrown into a well.” However, the point of what we do is not how much money we receive. Nor is it how much approval we got. The only approval that matters is God’s, because he alone is the one who called us to the task.
God also is the one who provides for us. We are the workers of God, therefore God provides the salary. Yes, God provides through his people, and God provides through unexpected avenues. There was the time that a large package of meat fell off of a truck right in front of one of our homeless folks. He called us immediately and we had meat for months. There was the time that my family was fed because someone else had brought in some pizza that he had found in a dumpster (still in a package). There was the man, whom we had never met, who called us offering us food on a regular basis, which now provides quite a bit of the food for our three meals a week. God does tell his people to help us, as when we received our house this last year, which was given by a single donator. But we depend on God for what we need.
God is our boss, our employer. As our employer, he is the one responsible to provide us our wages. We work hard, so we deserve our wages. But if our wages are late, what human being can we call to tell them we need our money, please? No one. We can only call God and have him determine our wages. He does not provide them regularly, nor are they usually monetary. But he provides and our needs are met—whether we ask people or not. He is the strength, the one with the resources. We are here to do his work, dependent on his resources.
I pray that we might never do anything apart from the desire of glorifying God or that of helping the need of another. Every time that I attempt to meet my own needs my own way, seeking my desires or building myself up, it results in depression, self pity, and reduced energy. If I focus on my own needs, I find that I have no ability to meet anyone else's. If I center in on my desires or accomplishments, I find that I can no longer build God's kingdom, or have time to meet the real needs of others around me.
However, if we focus on God's kingdom and in doing his righteousness, then we find that our needs are miraculously met. We no longer need to scurry about, trying to make this happen or that happen. I no longer need to force others to do my will for my purposes in order to meet my needs. Rather, if we focus our attention on seeing God's will accomplished, our wills softly blends into his. And then our will is accomplished— not on our power, but on God's. If we focus our attention on building God's kingdom, instead of accomplishing our own purposes, then our goals become infused with the kingdom of God. Then the kingdom is built, not by our anxious drivenness, but by God's power. If we focus our attention on seeing God's name sanctified, instead of stressing that our needs must be met, then we find that our needs are met. Our daily bread is provided, by God's hand. Our daily warmth is provided, by God's hand. Our daily rest is provided, by God's hand. And if one day our resources are scarce, the next day I will find they are met. If one day we go hungry, the next God provides more than ample for what we need.
This is not just a matter of simplicity of lifestyle, but rather simplicity of focus. We no longer have a list of needs that we want God, the government, our family and our friends to meet. Rather, we have God. And in lifting before him our desire to see his will be done, all is accomplished and more. Our focus is single. We do not have two masters— God and our needs who wage endless war for our hearts. Rather, we give our needs up to God and God alone reigns. Thus, we need no longer fret; we need no longer clamor; we need no longer be weighed down by burdens that seems beyond our control. Rather, we are at peace.
This is our salvation. Our salvation is the peace in our hearts that all our needs we can hand off to God. Our salvation is that God will meet those needs. Our salvation is that God is beholden to us, even as we have covenanted ourselves to him. Our salvation is the wholeness we achieve when we stop listening to the ringing voices in our ears which say, "You need this! You should have that! You must do this!" and listen only to God who says, "All you need I will give you. All you must do is found in my righteousness. All else is wind and shadow. I am the reality. I am the true."
One might say, "That is just the path to poverty." I suppose so, if one looks only by the sight of the current age. But I am confident in this: The next age holds so much more, that we are willing to wait for riches until the next life. God has so much more in store for us than this life can offer. So we must make the choice—poverty in this age (by this world's reasoning) or poverty in the next.
Yet, if our focus is as simple as God and God alone, are we really on the path of poverty? I suppose it depends on whose definition of poverty one uses. If you mean poor in wealth, poor in the noisy, pointless entertainments of this world, poor in the pursuits and stresses of accumulation, poor in this world's power, poor in covetousness, poor in vanity, poor in pursuits that liquefy our minds, poor in the streams of never ending products and false consolations—then we accept that poverty readily. In order to gain that poverty, we also gain the Holy Spirit, we also gain the love of Christ for all men, we also gain peace in our hearts, we also gain a community of givers and lovers, we also gain God who is for us and within us.
Thank you, Father, for all your love for us. We are waiting on you, longing for your provision. Thank you, Lord, that you listen to us and will provide for us to do your work. Thank you for helping us live day to day.