About a year after Ty and I were married, I lost my job. The small graphic design firm that I worked for filed for bankruptcy, so we suddenly found ourselves living off of his Young Life Internship stipend- all of which had to be raised ourselves. We were toying with the idea of starting The Happy Envelope, but with our extremely limited resources, we just weren’t sure. It was during this season that we were introduced to the incredible story of George Muller, through a biography that someone gave Ty.
George Müller was the son of a wealthy aristocrat in then Prussia, current day Germany, in the early 1800s. In his younger years, he sowed wild oats and lived a life of debauchery and pleasure-seeking, until one day he had a spiritual encounter that sent him on an about-face towards the Lord. While the entire life of George Müller is interesting, here’s the meat: Mr. Müller set up orphan houses in England and was responsible for the care (food, shelter, clothes, education) of over 10,000 orphans over his lifetime. While that’s amazing, it's not actually the thing. He did it all without ever asking for donations of any kind from people but relying solely on prayer.
George Müller relied one hundred percent on the Lord to meet his needs. He never presented those needs to people, but only directed them to God. He never went into debt. He believed so wholeheartedly in prayer and God’s provision that in one well-documented instance, he sat down for breakfast with his orphanage staff and all the students (about 200 people at the time) and prayed thanks even though they had nothing to eat. Moments later, there was a knock on the door and it was the local baker, who had felt a heavy pressing on his heart that morning to deliver a load of bread to the orphanage immediately.
Müller is quoted as saying, “Every child of God is not called by the Lord to establish schools and orphan houses and to trust in the Lord for means for them. Yet, there is no reason why you may not experience, far more abundantly than we do now, His willingness to answer the prayers of His children.” This was a man who fully devoted himself to prayer in belief that he was talking to the one who could actually attend to his needs. He genuinely delighted in the Lord and believed that He would equip and provide for every need of every day.
This is a remarkable life. There are multiple biographies about this man because his story is inspiring and astonishing. But should it be unremarkable? Isn’t his approach exactly what all Christians are called to? Probably not providing for thousands of orphans, but just in our heart posture for day to day life and needs? We say that we believe that God is King, that he has power and authority, that He moves mountains and changes hearts and that the entire world’s worth of wealth is in his hands. And we also believe that we are his children, that he loves us, that he “inclines his heart towards us” and when “this poor man cries, the Lord hears him and delivers him from all his trouble.” In short, God is able and God is willing. We say we believe those things… so why don’t we trust him like George Müller did?
So, Ty and I read the biography together. We loved it and discussed it and found it fascinating, but then we put it down and walked away. There was no epiphany or light-bulb moment. It is only in retrospect that I see why God orchestrated that book into our hands early in our marriage. He was well aware that we’d need the encouragement of George Müller’s story soon enough.
Over the next weeks, I’m going to tell you some stories. These are stories from my life and they are stories about prayer, about God’s remarkable provision, and about his guiding hand. I’m more and more convinced that we are given our experiences, not to hoard them—learning and growing only for ourselves—but to share them for the benefit of others. My hope is that you’ll be refreshed, encouraged, and maybe even astonished enough to try Him out with wherever you’re lacking. Maybe you’ll even find yourself satisfied in ways you never thought possible.
“After the Lord has tried our faith, he, in the love of His heart, gives us an abundance. For the glory of His name and for trial of our faith, He allows us to be poor and then graciously supplies our needs.” –George Müller