Erwin McManus told a story where he was preaching at a conference. A girl approached him afterwards and told him that she had sensed "God's Calling" to go into the mission field. But she was waiting. Waiting on the money to come through. Someone had told her that if the Lord wants you to go, then He'll provide the funds first. McManus - as compassionately as he could - looked at her and told her something to the effect of: "I don't think it happens that way. Who says God will provide all of that first? How do you know He isn't waiting on you to STEP OUT - to ANSWER the call - so that He can provide every last thing you need?" So, knowing that God "will supply all of our needs according to His riches" and that He won't call us to anything that He doesn't equip us and strengthen us to do, how does all of this work? What comes first? His provision? Or our obedience?
In the Gospels there's a story about Peter walking on water. People who've never even read a Bible have heard about this story. [Christians have been exploiting it with cheesy t-shirts and bumper stickers for years.] I believe in that story of provision, protection, obedience, and power lies a glimpse of the answer to this question. When Jesus told Peter, "Come to me", he didn't tell him, "Peter, I'm about to do something with you that people are going to talk about for thousands of years!" He didn't say, "Get out here and let me teach you how to surf barefooted!" He just said, "Come to me". And Peter did. He stepped over the threshold, jumped out of the boat, and he walked on water. AWESOME! Provision follows obedience.
When God told Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, up to the mountain and sacrifice him, He didn't give away the ending. He didn't leak the news to Abraham that He was going to provide a ram for him to sacrifice instead. He just told him what to do and where to go. And he went. And when Isaac asked his dad, "Where's the animal for the sacrifice?", Abraham looked at his son and told him calmly, plainly, and with all the confidence in the world, "God will provide". And He did. Provision follows obedience.
Right now - or maybe in the very near future - the Lord may call you to do something - or go somewhere - that comes along with a GIGANTIC question mark. HOW will I pay for this? WHERE will this ultimately lead me? WHO will go with me? Or will I go it alone? WHY, Lord? Why me? WHAT do you want me to do when I get there? A HUGE question mark. Question marks are OK, but you can't let them determine your steps or decrease your faith. You can't always wait for the question mark to be erased. Sometimes, it will never be erased. If God calls you to plant seeds, you may not seem them grow...or even watered! But HE will water them and HE will grow them. HE will provide! And whatever He may be asking of you, remember: Provision follows obedience.
Have you discovered or experienced this in your life?