I spend a lot of time writing funding applications and feeling frustrated that I am not rich enough to pay for all the things I want to do! As a Christian, I’m called to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), but I’m also called to be responsible and not reckless. God often gives me ideas for projects, and I work on the basis that if it’s His idea, it’s His responsibility (not mine) to fund it. He is Jehovah Jireh, the great provider, and I have seen His miraculous provision often enough to know that He never lets us down.
But, of course, that’s easy to say when He has provided, and not always easy to believe when you’re in that waiting period when you’re not 100% sure that this ‘idea’ is God’s and not yours. Jeremy Camp’s song ‘Ready Now’ is one I really identify with:
‘Three, am I really gonna do this?
Are You gonna carry me through this?
Two, is it really something You want?
Should I maybe get a parachute on?
One, can I find the nerve?
Is it gonna work?
Is it gonna hurt?
God, just say the word.’
A long time ago I felt God tell me that He wanted to give beauty for ashes to Goldthorpe and I’ve been heavily involved in community art projects ever since then as my way of involvement in this aim. One such project is to paint positive, colourful messages of hope all over the place. For me, this is as much about a spiritual statement asserting that God is the God of hope (Rom 15:13) as it is about art.
I wanted to start with a statement in our own church yard, on the wall. I wanted to have the line from Rend Collective’s anthem ‘Build Your Kingdom Here’ on the wall: ‘come, set our hearts ablaze with hope!’ – a prayer I pray on a regular basis.
Last year (November 2023) a funding stream called Pride of Place asked for artistic applications and I thought of this project. I found out about costings for having the wall rendered (and gulped at the prices) and submitted an application. Projects needed to be spent by March 2024. Not a great time to be rendering a wall in winter, but hey…if God’s in it…
I heard nothing back. Ah well. Wait and see. I do that a lot. I don’t enjoy it, but I’ve learned that God isn’t always in the same hurry that I am! I didn’t forget about the project. I would look wistfully at the drab grey wall frequently and yearn for colour and hope, but that was as far as I could go by myself, and so I simply had to wait and see.
The subject of hope (and its enemy, despair) has been on my mind a lot lately. There seems plenty to despair about both locally, nationally and internationally. I’m reaching the end of the school year where I need funding for the Parent and Toddler group and the arts’ festival’s approaching, so I need money for that as well, and I don’t really do well at these times. Each year I can feel anxiety fluttering within, and it takes determination and faith to keep holding on to God. The practical demands chafe against the faith element on a daily basis.
This morning I received a notification from an artist I admire called Hannah Dunnett. She has a new card for sale focussing on Romans 15:13: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ I felt God’s nudge within: ‘Are you going to overflow with hope or wallow in despair?‘ It was time to think about hope again!
Ouch. That sharp scalpel point of God’s word piercing again.
“O.K. I get the point. I’m going to hope.”
I walked into the church yard this morning and looked at the wall again. Hope. “I haven’t forgotten the project, God.”
It turns out neither had God.
Because when I got home, I had an email full of apologies saying that our application for funding had been successful but they had forgotten to notify us. Even though the deadline had passed, they hoped they could still be involved with this project.
Now if you are involved with funding applications, you know this rarely happens. Deadlines are deadlines, after all. But when we bought the church building on Market Street, we saw not only one miracle (getting a grant for £160,000 to buy the building) but two (we had to give the grant back because of timescales… and then were given it again!) So God is definitely the one sorting things out with funding!
It looks like my crazy idea was from God after all. And so let me encourage you, wherever you are and whatever you are waiting for in God, to hope against hope, just like Abraham, even when there seems no reason to hope, even when it’s so much easier to despair. Because the God of hope can do things we can’t, and therefore we really do have hope.