May 22nd 2011. Two weeks before I deployed to Kuwait for my second round in the Middle East while in the Air National Guard. This happened. Our house did pretty well considering, but the tornado wasn’t so nice on my truck… as you can see. It was totalled.
We had insurance coverage and got about as much money as I originally paid for the truck!
But then God asked me to do something crazy. He asked me to give the truck money to the church.
I was about to deploy and I didn’t need any vehicle for at least the next 6 months, so that wasn’t a problem. I started to ask God about it and I felt like He was saying, “Honor me in this and I will give you a truck.” So we started praying. I didn’t tell anyone that we were looking for another truck. I didn’t need to. My heavenly Father knew.
Sept 18, 2011 Ali Al Salem, Kuwait:
Father, you are teaching me to hear your voice. I am attempting to walk in obedience to what I hear. I believe that you told me to give away the insurance money for my truck. I did. I did it with an assurance that you would provide as you have always provided… increase our faith. I have told Michelle that you will provide. I don’t want to trust any thing or person, bank account or charity. I want you to prove to me and my wife that you can be trusted to provide. This is my first time ever asking for such a specific need that is really a need. Prove yourself as we give you opportunity to display your power and love. I am asking for a truck, not a car, and not money… Or a work van. Glorify yourself.
My wife and I have been doing the one-car thing for the last year and a half since returning from Kuwait. We figured that God would give us a new vehicle when He thought it was a good idea. We didn’t want to take on extra expenses with insurance and gas unless it was clearly God providing as we started full time ministry.
We learned to use the amazing metro system here in Minneapolis. I got into shape biking some more. I learned how many 2x4s I can fit in the Corolla with the back seat down. I learned how to ask my friends who own trucks for help (I was gutting and remodeling our living room, entry way and both bathrooms during this time).
Last week we were offered a car for free. I wasn’t sure what to make of that since we had been praying for a truck for almost two years.
May 2nd, 2013. Text: Please call at your convenience re: Truck 763-xxx-xxxx.
Guess what? God hears. God is faithful. You can bank on his faithfulness.
So I went over to the house of a family friend tonight because he was going to give me a dollar by which I was going to “buy” his truck from him for a dollar. You can’t make this stuff up.
So why did it take two years?
Last week God told me something while I was driving to do a full-day session of Prayer Resolution with a missionary who was in town. I was asking God for provision and reminded Him of the scripture, “Seek first my Kingdom and righteousness and everything else will be added unto you…” I told God that I really was seeking His kingdom first.
Holy Spirit convicted me.
I stopped dead in my thoughts.
“You haven’t been seeking the Kingdom, you’ve been trying to advance it.” The thought flashed through my mind.
I pulled a “Martha.”
God told me that the promise is not for those who seek to export the Kingdom, but those who enter into the Kingdom themselves. “Seek first…”
Our heavenly Father see his children. El Roi is the name that Hagar gave God after she ran away from an abusive situation and when God told her she was pregnant. It means “You are the God who sees me.” God told her to name her son Ishmael, which means, “God hears.”
Hudson Taylor eventually became one of the most influential missionaries to China. He embraced the culture fully, even dressing like them and speaking their language constantly. After establishing the China Inland Mission (now OMF) and nearing his second trip to China he was told by skeptics:
“You will be forgotten. With no committee to represent you at home you will be lost sight of in that distant land. Claims are many nowadays. Before long you may find yourselves without even the necessities of life!”
Living off of faith does not feel like a sure thing. There is risk. You are not in control. Scripture teaches followers of Jesus to have self-control, not situational-control or other-person-control. Be in control of how you act, respond, and believe. Trust God with the “other.”
Nothing before, nothing behind;
The steps of faith
Fall on the seeming void, and find
The Rock beneath.
-John Greenleaf Whittier
This evening while Michelle and I were in bed together and our 1 month old son was having supper I picked up Hudson Taylor’s Biography which I have been reading for some time now. I was so struck by Hudson’s response to the critique above that I read it out loud to Michelle.
I am taking my children with me, and I have noticed that it is not difficult for me to remember that the little ones need breakfast in the morning, dinner at midday, and something before they go to bed at night. Indeed, I could not forget it. And I find it impossible to suppose that our heavenly Father is less tender or mindful than I.
Within a minute of reading this, my phone started ringing. Frustrated that I would have to stop reading a book I thoroughly enjoy, I answered. It was my good friend Tim. He said he had something he wanted to drop off. A few minutes later after borrowing (Minnesotan for “lending”) him a book and returning a putty knife he had forgotten at our house while helping me paint yesterday he told me he needed help bringing “it” in. He said that God had put us on his heart and he is in the practice of obeying impressions like that faithfully. In the back of his truck was this:
Matthew Chapter 6:
25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifeb?
28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
God’s promises are secure and we can bank on it with our entire lives. He is faithful.
At 6:30am Saturday morning on Jan 12, 2013 Isaac Hawk Banker was born into the world. 7lbs 12oz of God-given blessing. 21 inches long.
God promised Abraham and Sarah a child. Abraham tried to fulfill God’s promise on His behalf, through his own human effort. The result of that attempt is symbolic of religion’s attempt at earning our way to God. God alone fulfills His promises.
The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. Galatians 4:23-24
God spoke to me over a year ago about having a child for us even though we had been trying on our own effort to get pregnant for two and a half years. Today God fulfilled what he had spoken to me. Even though I was never fully convinced that I had actually heard God (until we found out we were, indeed, pregnant), I told God that I believe Him. I doubted my ability to hear His voice, but didn’t necessarily doubt Him. I’m convinced that faith doesn’t mean we have to be convinced about our ability to follow Him (i.e. do everything right), but instead have faith in His faithfulness and take Him at His word. So, even though I doubted, my doubt was in myself and He remained faithful to what He was telling me. Faith means trusting God to be faithful to His word. Faith doesn’t mean conjuring up a self-imposed belief that requires unquestioning loyalty to said belief in the face of all opposing facts. Faith is relational.
Isaac was the name of Abraham’s child of promise whom God provided supernaturally in His timing. Our own Isaac is also our little child of promise that God fulfilled in His timing. Our pregnancy was impressed on our hearts months in advance and confirmed by a prophetic word just days before we found out about the pregnancy. Isaac is a child of promise.
When going through Prayer Resolution prayer-counseling, God had broken the power of a lie in my life that was in regard to my identity and we had asked God for a truth to replace the lie. The picture that I ended up getting was of a hawk. God used this imagery to show me who I am and who I am not.
My dad was always really good at spotting hawks on street lights and in trees as we drove around when I was young. I seemed to have inherited his special skill. Every time I see a hawk I am reminded that God spoke to me and is concerned about my identity being properly founded.
I like seeing hawks in the middle of the city. They don’t seem like they fit here. Something about the wild side of nature thriving in the middle of our fake concrete jungles. A reminder of the God-created way in the face of our man-created “prosperity.”
I want little Isaac to know that His identity has been determined and it has nothing to do with the world that surrounds him. He is valuable and full of worth right now, today, before he has ever had a chance to do anything good or bad and before anyone else can do anything good or bad to him. He is who he is and that’s all he is ever supposed to be.
We are praying that someday little Isaac will choose to enter into another family. His heavenly Father is the one who created this little one with so much value and worth and we are all looking forward to and longing for the day when this child chooses on his own to enter into intimacy with God Himself through faith in Jesus Christ (not human effort). And, if He chooses otherwise, his value and worth haven’t changed a bit.
That’s our last name. It only makes sense.