May Our Faith Be Bigger Than Our Business Plans

I’ve been deeply moved by the biography of Lilian Trasher, a young missionary to Egypt in the early 20th Century. When Lilian was just a teenager, the Lord began speaking to her about her future on the mission field, even frustrating her career pursuits through a complete misunderstanding about a journalism job she was actually chosen for but mistakenly told she did not get. The Lord wanted her in Egypt and to Egypt she would go.

In her early 20s, Lilian and her sister booked fare on a boat from New York to Alexandria before they even had the money for the tickets. The funds miraculously came just hours before they needed it. Her life remained a constant trust-fall of this kind, as she consistently moved where the Holy Spirit was leading before she saw any path to get there. Like a quarterback throwing a pass before the wide-receiver breaks on the ball, she just knew God would be there when the time was right.

Lilian unexpectedly started what is believed to be the first orphanage in Egypt when a dying mother thrust her sickly baby into her arms. She had no building and no budget, and would spend each morning on her knees asking God for literal daily bread. If the Lord didn’t provide, the growing group of children would not be able to eat that day.

The Lord always provided.

I wept as I read of her ‘life-literally-depends-on-it’ faith and this convicting thought would not leave my mind:

I have access to so much, and yet I wonder if God will provide. She had nothing, yet was confident that He would.

Faith in the Marketplace

We recently hosted a pitch night for those interested in our vision for a Marketplace and Missions campus here in Indianapolis. The room was full of talented, influential, and even wealthy people. I talked about our team – developers with decades of real estate experience, attorneys who have helped navigate countless projects of this magnitude, creative architects, brilliant contractors, engineers, commercial property managers, even botanists – who are walking alongside us to help bring this vision to life. The Stone Table is surrounded, not just by access to financial resources, but by people – subject matter experts with years of experience in getting projects like this done.

While we don’t know exactly how we are going to fund and create this project yet, we have access to a sizable network of resources and people who do. And then I thought of Lilian, a young woman with nothing but her confident trust in the Lord, on her face before God every morning believing he would give her just enough to get the orphanage through that day.

How do we marry these things together – detailed planning and daily trust? Is it possible to tap into both in our Western marketplace context? The Bible explicitly says things like:

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (Proverbs 15:22).

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” (Luke 14:28)

But Scripture is also crystal clear:

“And without faith it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11:6)

What Jesus Desires Most

If I’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that trust is what God desires most from us. Complete dependence on Him allows us to function as we were originally designed. From daily bread to the gift of salvation itself, throwing ourselves completely and totally on Jesus is what allows us to flourish as fully human.

And yet as image bearers of our Creator, we also carry a responsibility to steward God’s resources and to partner with Him in His work in the world. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)

Planning and faith are not opposites. In God’s Kingdom, I believe they’re partners. We make plans, we surround ourselves with expert counsel, and we throw ourselves fully on Jesus like our next breath depends on it (because it does).

As I wrapped up our event, I shared this closing challenge with all our potential partners and investors:

I’ve seen plenty of people do reckless things and call it faith. I’ve also seen plenty of people cower in fear and claim that it’s wisdom. We are walking in that Kingdom tension, and we will prayerfully wait for God to make His will clear. We are counting the cost, we are seeking wise counsel, and we are developing a plan. But like Lilian Trasher, I want our trust to be even bigger than our plan. Because “without faith is it impossible to please God.”

How does that resonate with you? How do we walk in our role as image-bearers and stewards of God’s creation while still trusting fully and completely on His sovereignty and grace to provide for our every need in His time and with His resources? How can we make sure our trust is even bigger than our plans?