George Müller (1805-1898): Although from Prussia, George spent the majority of his life in England. He is most well-known for being the founder and director of the Ashley Down Orphanage in Bristol, England where during the course of his life, over 10,000 orphans were cared for. He also founded the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad which helped aid numerous schools, supported “faith missionaries” such as Hudson Taylor, and distributed 100’s of thousands of Bibles, New Testaments and other literature. He is not well-known because of what he accomplished but how. Despite needing a lot of finances, supplies and other resources to make this all possible, Müller never once asked for help from anyone but simply prayed with child-like faith for the Lord to provide for all of his needs. He kept meticulous records of his specific prayer requests and God’s answers to each one and would publish an annual report of them as a means of challenging men and women in their faith and to “provide visible proof that God is FAITHFUL STILL…”
For the longest time after having heard stories of Müller’s life, I pointed to him as an example of what the apostle Paul meant when he listed faith as a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:9), distinguishing this particular gift of faith from the faith all believers in Christ have in common. In 2011, I finally got around to reading Müller’s autobiography. Just before the end, he pauses to specifically address this passage and to deny his faith as being that which Paul was referring to. Müller’s life mission was to inspire people to fully trust in the Lord and believe His Word to be true. His faith was nothing special, the only difference is he deliberately put himself in a place where his faith would be tried (and thereby strengthened as often as it prevails) on a daily if not hourly basis. He explains how when faith faces a trial and perseveres through it, it is refined and grows stronger to face the next challenge. If it falls short in the face of a trial, it will be weaker than before when the next trial comes along. When we start to take matters into our own hands rather than turning solely to and waiting patiently on the Lord, our faith is weakened. I don’t know about you, but I want my faith to grow ever stronger and in order to achieve that, I know I will need to face many a trial. Maybe I’m alone in this but I find a life of faith to be one of excitement and adventure! Say for example, you are a millionaire and rarely face a trial your money can’t solve. Where’s the action? The suspense? The opportunity to stand by and wait expectantly for the Lord do something awesome and wonderful and beyond our wildest imaginations? I know my God to be BIG, so much bigger than I can ever comprehend and I love him for it! He is all-powerful. And perhaps most importantly, He is good. He has our best interests at heart. He knows what we need and desire and what is best for us so much more than we know ourselves!
“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible.
There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible.
Faith begins where man’s power ends.” -George Müller
While I look forward to meeting Müller in heaven, his life was lived in such a way that it is easy to see how God is the one who empowered him to do all that he did. It’s not him who accomplished anything at all, but He who “will meet all (our) needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). He can’t even take credit for his great faith for it is Jesus who is the Author and perfecter of our faith. Over one hundred years after his death, Müller’s life continues to “provide visible proof that God is faithful still…” It is my desire the Lord will be pleased to use this broken vessel to do likewise.
One final thought: I just can’t help but think the radical life of faith Müller lived is the same (or something close to) the life Jesus had in mind for everyone who would put their trust in Him. Why then is it so hard for us to live as Jesus instructs us to when he says in Luke 12 (see also: Matt. 7:7-12, 21:21-22; Luke 11:1-13, 18:1-8; John 14:12-15),
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?… O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things and your Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”
“The joy which answers to prayer give, cannot be described; and the impetus which they afford to the spiritual life is exceedingly great. The experience of this happiness I desire for all my Christian readers. If you believe indeed in the Lord Jesus for the salvation of your soul, if you walk uprightly and do not regard iniquity in your heart, if you continue to wait patiently, and believingly upon God; then answers will surely be given to your prayers. You may not be called upon to serve the Lord in the way the writer does, and therefore may never have answers to prayer respecting such things as are recorded here; but, in your various circumstances, your family, your business, your profession, your church position, your labour for the Lord, etc., you may have answers as distinct as any here recorded.”