What is God Up To?

This is a pop quiz.  I will say a name and you tell me what he did for the King that mattered.


George Müller.

Orphanages in Bristol, right?

Well, maybe not.

Yes, it is true that he started a huge ministry which cared for over 10,000 orphans.  It is also true that he was a passionate believer in receiving by faith, without sharing his needs with anyone but God and his staff. Many are the stories of his sitting down for a meal with the orphans, with nothing prepared, and after prayer time, the food would be delivered.

Müller also was a pastor, and he started over 100 schools which educated 120,000 students.

But in a way, all of those things were merely the playing field.  You see, George Müller was a Prussian by birth with the redemptive gift of Prophet.  In his youth he walked far from God. When he met God, he became a wild, passionate Christian and decided to go to the mission field as his most extreme service to God.  Vintage Prophet extreme idealism.

He became ill and was not able to go, and that diverted him to the ministry in England.

I wouldn’t have wanted to be around Müller much in those days.  He was hard, driven and hugely insensitive.  His wife took the brunt of it.  She was from a wealthy family and her family was horrified when she fell in love with this impoverished foreigner.  As a way of buffering her life ahead, they loaded her down with wedding gifts.

Müller, however, had a few unresolved issues in the area of receiving from others, so he promptly decided that living comfortably on gifts from the wedding was unholy.  He bullied her into giving away all those possessions so she could share his poverty (although you can be assured he gave a theological spin to it).

He pastored in the same bombastic way, assaulting his congregations with his theological views.  With his hot temper, deep obsessions and his claim that God was in agreement with him on all points, he carved a path that left many bruised and discarded people along the way.

When he shared with his congregation his vision for the orphans, they were unanimous in telling him that this was not acceptable to them at all.  He ran over them roughshod and did it anyway.

But over the course of the years, God worked on him as well as through him.  His theology became broader and his character much more Christlike.

Thus it was that he began his career as a missionary.  The following notes are from Wikipedia.

In 1875, at the age of 70 and after the death of his first wife in 1870 and his marriage to Susannah Grace Sanger in 1871, Müller and Susannah began a 17 year period of missionary travel:

From To Itinerary
26 March 1875 6 July 1875 England
15 August 1875 5 July 1876 England, Scotland and Ireland
16 August 1876 25 June 1877 Switzerland, Germany and Holland
18 August 1877 8 July 1878 Canada and the United States (including a visit to the White House)
5 September 1878 18 June 1879 Switzerland, France, Spain and Italy
27 August 1879 17 June 1880 United States and Canada
15 September 1880 31 May 1881 Canada and the United States
23 August 1881 30 May 1882 Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Turkey and Greece
8 August 1882 1 June 1883 Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, Russia and Poland
26 September 1883 5 June 1884 India
18 August 1884 2 October 1884 England and South Wales
16 May 1885 1 July 1885 England
1 September 1885 3 October 1885 England and Scotland
4 November 1885 13 June 1887 The United States, Australia, China, Japan, the Straits of Malacca, Singapore, Penang, Colombo, France
10 August 1887 11 March 1890 Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Ceylon and India
8 August 1890 May 1892 Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy

Wrap your arms around this picture.  He traveled over 200,000 miles in 17 years, when he was over 70 years old, without an airplane.  He was fluent in English, German and French, but often preached through a translator when those languages did not serve.

Everywhere he went, he left a trail of literature from his ministry, to help grow those whom he had touched.

Talk about astounding endurance and passion!

My point is this.  His heart was for missions.  I don’t know for sure, but I have every reason to believe this was his design.  But he was not ready to walk out his design in his youth, even though the passion was there.

God ambushed him early in life and spent the next 30 to 40 years getting him ready for his missionary career.  Then, at age 70, he was well-rounded, significantly more user-friendly, and had moral authority from his previous work.  It was then that he was released by God.

So what about you?  Did you have a fire years ago, but you have been doing something else lately and feeling that it is pointless?

Maybe you want to revisit that feeling.  Is there any chance that God has been refining you over the last few decades?  Is there any chance God will relight the fire that was there in your 20s and send you out with huge wisdom, character and authority, to do the original calling?

Copyright March 2011 by Arthur Burk

From the Quarterdeck, in Anaheim

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12 Responses to What is God Up To?

  1. Lu-Ina says:

    Can’t wait to see what is God going to do in my life, now that I have surrendered.

  2. Sheila says:

    I don’t have much time to visit this blog, but how is it that every time I do, I resume my daily life feeling as if I could soar like an eagle? 🙂

  3. Susan Reeve says:

    so much like the work God did with Moses. again encouragement that age matters less with God than with myself. God knows the right timing from the stand point of the heart not the calendar.

  4. J. David Muray says:

    When I first was tackled by God it came out of nowhere. Though I had grown up in a christan family I was not perusing after God, but he was perusing after me. He caught my attention by letting me experience the other darkness. Who can respond to that in any other way but to say “I will call you Lord and will live with you as Lord….of all”.
    That was February 17 1972 and my first assignment did not meet with my approval. Though I am defiantly not a crier many was the night that I went to sleep crying during that 5 years. Many was the time that I asked why was I spending my time doing things of no consequence to my way of thinking. Always the answer was “If you can trust me to guide your life I will make it a thing of beauty.” That was almost 40 years ago and he still has me doing the things that appear to be of no consequence. But…the thing that He is making more real to me every day is that this life is but a breath and his planning is for eternity.
    Even if in this life I never do anything that the world or the church, considers to be of significance. I still believe the promise that he has made to me to still be true. Why? Because; he still tells me whenever I ask about his planning.
    “Do you still trust me?”
    And I know that he is one who never reneges on his promises.
    There are ages (note the plural) still to come and he is still Lord of all, even time.

  5. Derick Gross says:

    When you’re my age something like five years feels like eternity, any word now that something will take that long will not be accepted easily…although it is a possibility and a reality.
    I think it is good to live for a far redemptive purpose but i also think that you cannot live with the idea that that one redemptive purpose (or goal) is the true fulfillment of who you are.

  6. George says:

    Your revelations give me a whole new dimension in studying Gods Word. While peeling back the layers of the “onion”, I now see that each layer has two sides to be alert to.
    Thanks so much and may God continue to bless you with His awesome wisdom and understanding.


  7. Kate Mazur says:

    “Yay, yay, yay!” is all I’ll take the time to say!!!!!

  8. linzi roberts says:

    We prophetic people sure need to have some rough edges smoothed, but PTL! He uses us where we are at!
    Are you familiar with “Rees Howells Intercessor’ by Norman Grubb. I am reading the book again after 30 years. He is as much an inspiration to me today as he was in 1981.

  9. Amanda says:

    I have just come thru my desert period of 5 years. Only now am I able to
    understand what God was doing during that time…the brash harsh rough side of my prophet design had to be smoothed and softened and my wild very vocal passion brought under control…boy what a ride! Excrutiatingly painful but at times also exhilirating…amazing amazing Father God! I’m so looking forward to something new, to stepping in to the new season of His Plan for me. This post is very encouraging and also alerting at the same time. Thank you!

  10. Colleen says:

    I am a new subscriber and this was a great post! Thank you for being so honest and candid in how you revealed the basic personality of some one who is only esteemed highly in christian circles. Often only the positive side of the story is told but in real life it is often ‘not so pretty’ how things get done. Another reality check about how God is not dependant on human perfection while He still is always moving forward in creating in us more of the image of His Son’s true image.

  11. Kerrie says:

    Yes, God sent me on 2 mission trips and then planted me locally mission wise with those on the street, but hasn’t let me leave the country for a few years even though it is my desire/His planted. But I feel the purpose in the present calling and the preparation for the Middle East call. And even a new calling where Gd has moved us w/ mentally challenged and broken neighbors…God is good.
    Thank you!

  12. Pat says:

    Well said! I often ask God if He remembers how old I am. I so often feel that life and destiny have passed me by. Perhaps there is still time in the latter years… Maybe, just maybe, I still have a few rough edges to be smoothed off…

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