Great leaders spend their lives pursuing clearly stated goals. William Wilberforce, for example, said, “Almighty God has set before me two great objectives, the abolition of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.” I am finishing up a biography on the life of George Müller. He, too, had a clearly stated goal in life. Next week I hope to write a book review of that biography; but for this week, I simply want to highlight the one aspect of George Müller’s life that stands out above the rest.
Müller’s Goal in Life
Müller repeats his “mission statement” over and over again in his own journal. Here is his first and foremost goal, recorded as the main reason for why he decided to begin building the orphan houses on Ashley Down:
“That God may be glorified, should He be pleased to furnish me with the means, in its being seen that it is not a vain thing to trust in Him; and that thus the faith of His children may be strengthened.”
Trust in God is a good thing, we agree. But the big difference between Müller and many other Christians is that he wanted people to realize it is not a vain thing to trust in God alone for provision. Müller purposefully stripped away any dependence on human means to highlight God’s powerful orchestration of events. And this was no passive dependence. Müller prayed and then worked for God, believing He would answer. If anything, Müller’s biography has reminded me that it is indeed a safe and delightful and rewarding thing to trust in God alone.
We rarely allow ourselves to we feel as if we need to depend on God alone. Sure, we may get a flat tire, or our water heater may give out, or we may face a medical emergency. But most people have their “plan B,” their smart phone handy, or their emergency fund. We don’t like to be exposed to risk or hazard. Yet George Müller discovered the value in stripping away the human “props” that rob glory from God.
God’s Goal for Our Lives
Self-preserveation is natural, but what happens when God forces us to be exposed? David lived much of his life under the threat of danger, exposure, and even death. Early on he ran from Saul, and late in his life he runs away from his own son Absolom. He was forced to depend on God alone. He and other psalmists make this point. I have bolded certain phrases for emphasis.
“I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from You.‘”
Psalm 16:2; 140:6; cf. 75:4
“For You are the God in whom I take refuge.”
Psalm 43:2a; 71:1a
“Behold, God is my helper;
the Lord is the upholder of my life.”
“For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress;
I shall not be greatly shaken.”
Psalm 62:1-2, 5-6
“On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.”
(see also Psalm 27:9d; 51:14b; 25:1; 28:2b; 40:17; 70:5)
We may have our “plan B,” or “plan C,” or “plan Z,” but I think God delights to knock out all those props from underneath us to show us and others it is not a vain thing to trust in God alone. He takes away the facade of dependence and makes us genuinely trust in Him. That social media post, that big step forward in your career, or that beefy retirement account can’t ensure your future; only God can do that. I do think we can make a biblical case for wisdom, preparedness, and planning. But when we seek to substitude our plans for dependence on God alone, we have bowed to the idols of self-control and ease. One of God’s goals for the Christian’s life is that we would show it is not a vain thing to trust in God alone.
Our Goal for Our Lives
If this is one of God’s main goals for the Christian life, we need to be serious about making it our goal. We need to pray that God would give us the spirit of Job, who reflected sage-like wisdom and utter humility before the Lord with these words,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.”
We are dependent upon God from the day we are born. This is why it is so important that every Christian spend private time in prayer with God every day. Not a day goes by that you or I will safely live independent of God. I say “safely” because many Christians will choose to live independent of God today, but that is not a safe place to be. We buy into the lie that security rests in our own hands. But security rests in the hands of God alone. In every stage of life, may we prove that it is not a vain thing to trust in God alone.
“For You, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon You I have leaned from before my birth;
You are He who took me from my mother’s womb.”