“’Royal Way’ should be the name of our boat,” I told Ryan. He wholeheartedly agreed. Once we were settled a few days at my in-law’s house (in March), I rummaged through their garage to find the boxes that contained our books. “God’s Smuggler” by Brother Andrew, I found it! Our kids needed to know the meaning behind the name of our boat. After tucking them into bed, I found the chapter I wanted and began their bedtime story.
“The real purpose of this training,” Mr. Dinnen told me, “is to teach our students that they can trust God to do what He has said He would do. We don’t go from here into the traditional missionary fields, but into new territory. Our graduates are on their own. They cannot be effective if they are afraid, or it they doubt that God really means what He says in His Word. So here we teach not so much as ideas as trusting. I hope this is what you are looking for in a school, Andrew.”
“Yes, sir. Exactly.”
“As for finances- you know of course, Andy, that we charge no tuition. That’s because we have no paid staff. The teachers, the London people, myself – none of us receives a salary. Room and board and other physical costs for the year come to only ninety pounds – a little over two hundred and fifty dollars. It’s as low as this because the students do the cooking, cleaning, everything, themselves. But we do request the ninety pounds in advance. Now I understand you will not be able to do this.”
“Well, it’s also possible to pay in installments, thirty pounds at the start of each session. But for your sake and for ours we like to insist that the installments be paid on time.”
“Yes, sir. I altogether agree.”
I did agree too. This was going to be my first experiment in trusting God for the material needs of life. I had the thirty pounds I had brought from Holland for the first semester’s fee. After that I really looked forward to seeing how God was going to supply the money.
During the first few weeks, however, something kept happening that bothered me. At meal times the students would frequently discuss inadequate funds. Sometimes after a whole night in prayer for a certain need, half of the request would be granted, or three-quarters. If an old people’s home, for example, where students conducted services, needed ten blankets, the students would perhaps receive enough to buy them six. The Bible said that we were workers in God’s vineyard. Was this the way the Lord of the vineyard paid His hired men?
One night I went out for a long, solitary walk. On several occasions students had warned me not to “go into Patrick.” Patrick was the slum sitting at the bottom of our hill. It was, they said, the home of addicts, drunks, thieves, even murderers, and walking its streets was unsafe. And yet this area drew me now as if it had something to say.
All around me were the dirty gray streets of Patrick. Litter blew across the cobblestones. The September air was already raw. Before I had gone five blocks I was accosted two times by beggars. I gave them all the money I had in my pockets and watched as they moved without pretense toward the nearest pub. I knew that these drifters, begging in the streets of the Glasgow slums, would receive a better income than the missionaries-in-training at the top of the hill.
I could not understand why this bothered me so. Was I greedy? I didn’t think so. We had always been poor, and I had never worried about it. What was it then?
And suddenly, walking back up the hill toward the school, I had my answer.
The question was not one of money at all. What I was worried about was a relationship.
At the chocolate factory I trusted Mr. Ringers to pay me in full and on time. Surely I said to myself, if an ordinary factory worker could be financially secure, so could one of God’s workers.
I turned through the gate at the school. Above me was the reminder “Have Faith In God.”
That was it! It wasn’t that I needed the security of a certain amount of money, it was that I needed the security of a relationship.
I walked up the crunchy pebble walk feeling more and more certain that I was on the verge of something exciting. The school was asleep and quiet. I tiptoed upstairs and sat by the bedroom window looking out over Glasgow. If I were going to give my life as a servant of the King, I had to know that King. What was He like? In what way could I trust Him? In the same way I trusted a set of impersonal laws? Or could I trust Him as a living leader, as a very present commander in battle? The question was central. Because if He were a King in name only, I would rather go back to the chocolate factory. I would remain a Christian, but I would know that my religion was only a set of principles, excellent and to be followed, but hardly demanding devotion.
Suppose on the other hand that I were to discover God to be a Person, in the sense that He communicated and cared and loved and led. That was something quite different. That was the kind of King I would follow into any battle.
And somehow, sitting there in the moonlight that September night in Glasgow, I knew that my probing into God’s nature was going to begin with this issue of money. That night I knelt in front of the window and made a covenant with Him. “Lord,” I said, “I need to know if I can trust You in practical things. I thank You for letting me earn the fees for the first semester. I ask You now to supply the rest of them. If I have to be so much as a day late in paying, I shall know that I am supposed to go back to the chocolate factory.”
It was a childish prayer, petulant and demanding. But then I was still a child in the Christian life. The remarkable thing is that God honored my prayer. But not without first testing me in some rather amusing ways….
…I never mentioned the school fees to anyone, and yet the gifts always came at such a moment that I could pay them in full and on time. Nor did they ever contain more than the school costs, and-in spite of the fact that the people who were helping me did not know one another – they never came to together. God’s faithfulness I was experiencing continually, and I was also finding out something about His sense of humor.
I had made a covenant with God never to run out of money for school fees. My covenant said nothing about running out of soap. Or toothpaste. Or razor blades…
Throughout this time I sensed that God was playing a game with me. Perhaps He was using these experiences to teach me the difference between a Want and a Need. Toothpaste tasted good, new razor blades shaved quicker – but these were luxuries, not necessities. I was certain that should a real need arise, God would supply it.
…And so the game moved into a new phase. I had a name for it by now. I called it the Game of the Royal Way. I had discovered that when God supplied money (or need) He did it in a kingly manner, not in some groveling way…” God’s Smuggler. Brother Andrew with John and Elizabeth Sherrill, (1967).
I closed the book. That is why our boat’s name is Royal Way. It is in honor of the Game Brother Andrew played with God, a reminder of the of game we felt God wanted us to play with him. Ryan and I knew, through this boating adventure, God was calling our family into a personal, intimate relationship and faith with Him. We didn’t want to ignore or pass over this invitation!
That is the story behind our boat’s name, and the game we play on this adventure.