We just finished reading aloud George Müller: The Guardian of Bristol's Orphans. While it's not the first time I have read the book, I'm still shocked and inspired by this life of faith. My dad used to pay me to read missionary biographies when I was a kid. George Müller was his favorite.
As I read back through this book with my kids, I could see why my dad esteemed this man's life. Although he started off as a liar, a cheat, and a thief, (a phrase I grew up hearing when my dad shared his testimony), when George came to know the Lord, he lived his life sold out for God.
Even though these books are designed to be read by children, they continue to inspire and encourage my faith when I need it the most. My heart has been heavy lately, and it's men like George Müller that remind me to lift my eyes from my circumstances and focus them on my Savior.
I am so weak when it comes to skeptics. Whenever I feel like I have a sure direction from the Lord, I struggle with all of the nay-sayers. What does this say about my faith?
George Müller took a different approach to challenges. He saw them as unique opportunities for God to show off.
Through prayer and faith, George Müller trusted God to:
- Provide for the daily needs of his family and over 2,000 orphans.
- Raise money to build five orphan houses.
- Fix an expensive boiler in the dead of winter without any of his children getting sick.
- Lift a fog so that he could arrive on time to a speaking engagement.
It didn't matter how great or how small the issue was, George committed it to prayer. He comments:
I have known my God for fifty-two years, and in all that time I cannot recall a single instance where he has not answered my prayers." - George Müller
Reaction: Pray like you believe God will answer—because He does.
Generosity Fosters Prosperity
Our society looks upon the wealthy as favored by God. Frequently, I've even heard pastors speak as if the dollar amount in your bank account is a reflection of God's favor. While there have been many wealthy people that serve God in mighty ways, I believe George Müller's financial practices tell a different story.
Many times in his life, Müller was unsure of where his next meal would come from, however over 1.5 million pounds passed through his hands over the course of his life. When he died, however, his estate only amounted to 160 pounds. It wasn't that he squandered the money, rather he invested it in the Lord's work.
As an orphan was preparing to leave the care of the Müllers, they had to have one final interview with George. His advice to the young adults was to hold tightly to the Word of God rather than money:
Not only did he care for orphans, but he gave generously to missionaries. Remarkably, he never spent a penny on something other than its designated purpose.
Reaction: Money is a tool for God's work—spending can be just as honoring to God as saving.
Faith is a Lifelong Pursuit
But what about my retirement? My husband and I live a fairly alternative lifestyle. We both work from home. While there are great benefits like having time together and with our kids, we miss out on 401Ks and retirement packages. I resigned myself to just working for the rest of my life. On the last day of George Müller's 92 years, he still took care of his duties at the orphanage. His life wasn't over when he hit a certain age.
I remember when I was in school, I kept living for the day I'd be out. The challenge with this perspective is that I didn't value the present. There were greener pastures. In the same way, if I focus my life now on the glamour of retirement, I'll miss the blessings along the way. Retirement isn't the only good life.
Reaction: Live like there's no tomorrow—all in for the glory of God.
When I find myself discouraged in life, there is no better remedy than reading about a man or woman of faith, who endured difficult lives, yet experienced heaven on earth. I long for heaven daily. Living in obedience to the Lord is the closest I can get while here on earth. George Müller counted it a blessing to live such a long life. The Apostle Paul said it best, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)