When the year began, none of us expected a pandemic would turn our lives upside down. Yet here we are! I pray you are well. I am well and getting along fine with minimal interruptions to my daily routine.
I am grateful to share an update with you. God is still at work. He is still speaking to us. In this update, I share a recent experience I had in learning to trust God more. I hope you are encouraged when you read it.
Update on the Giving Challenge and the Love One Another Challenge
Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2020 Giving Challenge in April despite the pandemic hitting at the same time. The Giving Challenge is a matching grant campaign provided by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with funding provided by the Patterson Foundation. We participate in this unique giving opportunity every eighteen months. This time I did not feel comfortable marketing the matching grant campaign with so many people out of work and struggling financially. Instead of marketing it on social media, I only shared the information with you, our core supporters. I was surprised by the response. With matching grants, the ministry received over $4,000.00 because of your generosity. These resources help tremendously, especially with the external work of the ministry shut down for the foreseeable future. Thank you for your kind and generous giving!
Publicly, instead of promoting the Giving Challenge, we asked our Facebook friends to find someone in need and meet those needs instead of giving to the ministry. We called it “The Love One Another Challenge.” For several weeks, I updated Facebook with thoughts on how loving others matters. Again, the response was outstanding. I don’t know the exact amount of gifts made to others. However, I received many stories of how God was using folks like you in radical ways to meet other people’s needs. One artist sold several pieces and used the income to bless a waitress with a need. Some used their government stimulus check to meet someone else’s needs. Someone gave an extra car they had to a family with a transportation need. It was exciting to watch God moving people to love one another. From my perspective, this giving blessed me as much or more than the Giving Challenge matching grant campaign. As a ministry, our goal is to influence others to love God with abandon and to love others selflessly. It was a blessing to watch others fulfill the mission of our ministry through their kindness and generosity.
As a ministry, we have a small group of friends who support the ministry on a monthly basis. If you’re interested in supporting the ministry with a one-time or monthly gift, click here for our secure giving platform: https://timothymark.com/financial-support/
In the holding pattern
As uncertainty over the virus continues, I am focusing my efforts on the final edits for a new book and working on new music. In time, I look forward to ministry in Seattle, southern Michigan, Bolivia, and Asia with prayer gatherings and house church planting. Thank you for your part in all that God is doing through your prayer and financial support. You are a blessing!
Learning to trust
As you can imagine, ministry wise, everything is in a holding pattern right now. Here in Florida, my home is in an area with minimal impact from the virus. I am not traveling with the prayer gatherings or house church planting ministry. I have had only one ministry event since the pandemic began. At this time, there is nothing on the schedule for the rest of the year. However, seeing God at work motivates me for the ministry ahead.
In June, a conference center in New Hampshire asked if I would speak for seven sessions in a Family Conference. The conference was in two weeks! Oh my! I said, “Yes,” and immediately started praying. It is pretty much impossible to prepare seven messages in fourteen days. So my goal was to spend as much time in prayer as possible. I wanted to make sure my heart synced up with the Father’s heart. If I could align myself with his heart, he could say what he wanted to say through me. I chose to surrender my voice to the Holy Spirit. I decided to focus on sharing my passion instead of points. I would share my hunger for a relationship with a loving God. And I would wait for the Holy Spirit to tell me what he wanted to say.
I wish I could say I trusted God fully in this, but the reality is I went back and forth with God on whether I would trust him or not. What if I didn’t prepare well enough, and I look like a fool when I speak? What if I only have ten minutes of material but am expected to share for forty-five? One day, in a moment of panic, I heard the still small voice of God speaking to my spirit. “Tim,” he said, “I am only giving you two weeks’ notice so you will not over-prepare. I want you to rely on me instead.”
The Holy Spirit reminded me that I had decided to focus on sharing my passion instead of points. He just kept saying to me, “Tim, will you trust me to speak or not?” For two weeks, it was a reoccurring conversation with him. Would I trust him or not? Some days I felt a surge of confidence. Other days, not so much. I am not the Apostle Tim. I am just Tim trying to follow God the best I can. Notice the issue was not for wisdom to know what to share at the conference. The question was whether I would trust the Holy Spirit to speak through me. Was I willing to step into the pulpit with little preparation and let the Holy Spirit have the floor? As a result, I spent more time in prayer than preparation. And, oh my, what a difference!
I’ve never seen anything like it. Session after session, the Holy Spirit took over the room. In one session, I started the introduction and finished speaking forty-five minutes later. It was then I realized I had never walked back to the podium. The sermon notes I had prepared sat unused in a neat little stack on the podium. Yet, from my perspective, it was the clearest I have seen the Holy Spirit move while I was speaking. It was shocking.
I am still riding the high from the week of ministry. What a privilege! I believe the lesson God taught me in trusting him will stay with me for a long time to come. Just yield. Let go. Let God take over. Imagine what God could do if we yielded fully to him.
My story is unique to me, but I suspect the principle behind my experience is universal to all who follow Jesus. We surrender to him. We lay down our abilities, our talents, our desires, and we follow Jesus. Jesus then takes our abilities, our talents, and our dreams, and the Holy Spirit uses them to bring others to the Father’s love.
Friend, is the Holy Spirit speaking to you, asking you to trust him more? What area of your life are you struggling to let go and let God take control? When we surrender to him, we find he does much more than we could ever think or imagine. Trust him today!