God Provides. Do you forget too?

I’ve been chewing on my post about biblical womanhood for a while, and I haven’t been able to get my thoughts just right yet (hence my few weeks of a hiatus). For now, I want to remind you of something that I forget all too often: God Provides. He provides so much for us, and He comes through ALL THE TIME. Sometimes, it takes the big stuff to remind me of this simple fact, and then I remember how He has provided over and over in other ways!

If you haven’t realized yet, Dan and I are going to El Salvador in two short weeks for a missions trip (check out our posts about the trip!). We needed $4000 to go on the trip, and we were not going to be able to put any of our own money into the trip… I was very hesitant about committing to going, so before I jumped in with two feet, I prayed very specifically. My prayer went something like this: Lord, this trip scares me a lot but it seems like you might be wanting us to go. I gotta trust YOU to provide these funds and show us that we are supposed to be going. Help me trust you through this process. Help me feel your hand guiding us to El Salvador. Amen. And then we committed to going. During our preparations, I kept throwing prayers of trust at the Lord, especially when I was overwhelmed by raising support (it’s quite time consuming!).

Actually, it is a huge blessing that I did keep praying throughout the preparation process, but it can be so easy to try to trust in myself instead of constantly trusting God. I obviously had moments where I was less than good at trusting God, but overall, I really relied on Him, prayed often and specifically, and did not let this trip become about what I could do.

I’ll be honest, 3 weeks ago, we had about $1000 in our account. Then one Sunday, we learned we would receive a $1000 grant and that Dan’s church was sending us $1000 from a love offering. Today, we learned that we have $3250 in our account. We still have 2 weeks to raise the rest of the funds, and so we are still praying and reaching out to people, but we are SO much closer than we were and I KNOW that the Lord will provide the rest of the funds too.

I forget that God will provide. I am getting better at remembering to pray for His provision, but I forget that He does come through. The only positive in this is that I get super excited when I see His work! But I think I am missing a part of the trusting part: believing that He will provide. I always will say that He provides, but do I (or you) really believe deep down that He will be providing what you need?

Matthew 6 holds a pretty common passage about how God provides:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25-34 

Jesus is reminding people that God provides for birds and flowers, and that since we are so much more valuable than flowers, that we should feel confident that He will surely provide for us! His answer is to seek God and know that we will have what we need, and to not worry about it, but simply trust.

As a hard-core worrier, this kind of stuff really convicts me and challenges me to live a different kind of life. But I know that true trust in the One who has made ALL things is the best way to live, and so I am actively praying, reading, and trying to trust with all my heart in HIM. And guess what? He does show me His consistent provision, in both the big (El Salvador!!!) and little ways* 🙂

 

*I wanted to provide some examples of the little things He provided me with in the last week:

  • several days of really great sessions with my clients
  • not having to leave the house on a rainy Saturday
  • having 2 midterms that were not that bad
  • getting out of a 3 hr class early because all we had to do was take our midterm
  • enjoying a dinner with friends
  • having an adorable cuddle-puppy
  • seeing family on a spontaneous trip
  • having time to get work done
  • and I could really keep going 🙂
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Trusting God Hurts.

What does it mean to trust God? We often say things like “if we trust God, then everything will be alright”.  This is 100% true, but probably not in the way that you expect.

If we trust in God He will care for you, it may change your perspective of God and/or the situation, but it will not make everything “alright” as we may think of it.  Jeremiah 29:11 is just as true for Daniel in the lines den, Shadrach Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, and Jesus on the cross.   Gods plan, (and by extension our trust in that plan) is for our good, because He loves us, but sometimes the things that are for our good can be painful.  Sometimes, that means ripping our safety net out from underneath us.  Sometimes, trusting God means having to step away from our place of comfort.  Sometimes, living according to Gods plan can be painful, hurting us deeply.

This is a thought that I have had for a while and would love to hear your perspective on it. Please comment on this blog to continue this conversation.

Recently, I have taken this idea to the next step.  I often think about what an ideal Christian life is or what it should look like; rarely do I actually take these ideas and test them against what God has said, and then (this is the part that I usually fail at) let it transform my life.  The question God recently confronted me with was: What am I not trusting God with? What am I clinging to that is preventing Him from using me more fully?

If I am honest, I am still not sure that I have a good answer to that question.  The hard part is that, I think, the reason that I do not have a good answer is because I have not let go of whatever thing I am clinging to enough to see that I was clinging in the first place.

Okay, so that seems convoluted, but imagine that you have are blindfolded and someone hands you an object and tells you to hold it close, and don’t let go.  Now you take the blindfold off and continue with life, clinging to this object obscured from view by your chin.  It is not until you can let go that you can see what you are clinging to.

I am going to continue to search my heart to see what it preventing me from more fully trusting God, using Psalm 139 as my guide for my prayer:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Will you join me in the search for the things that we are clinging to that prevents you from trusting God?

 

I am a Control Freak

For those of you who know me, you may not think that I am a control freak, but I am.  I tend to be rather easy-going and flexible.  I can roll with the punches.  I am resilient and versatile.  and I am a control freak.

God has recently been shedding light on my desires for control.  Some people try to have control on projects, on their household, or on their relationships; I have a tendency to keep trying to vie for control of my salvation.  I want to control my life.

Explicitly, I know that this is not a healthy mindset to have.  Implicitly, however, I see myself working hard to be able to control my future.  I kept trying to plan my life, and take control of everything that is going on instead of relinquishing control, and letting God (who knows much better than I do how to control my life effectively) have control of my life.  A few months ago, I resolved to make it happen…

Yup, that’s right.  I decided that I would take control of letting God have control…  Over the last few weeks, God has been teaching me just how stupid that sounds.

Our church is working through Ephesians so a few weeks ago, our pastor preached on Ephesians 3.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

– Ephesian 3:14-21 NIV

It was a great message, but I didn’t feel that it was talking about my subtle appetite to have control.  I continued to try to give God control by reading my Bible more and listening to Podcasts.

A week and a half later I was out for a run, listening to a Podcast by Tim Keller on the Glory of God.  A great sermon based on this passage (among others) in Ephesians:

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

– Ephesian 3:14-21 ESV

Amen, God is great and glorious, and we can He can do even more than what we ask of Him when we pray.  He is a great God.

I worked really hard to give God control of my life.  I deleted the games from my phone and spent the time on the toilet praying instead of playing.  I made a point to talk to people about “spiritual stuff” so that I could be trying to think about God more.

A few days later I was reading my bible and read a passage that seemed a little familiar.

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

– Ephesian 3:14-21 NKJV

And then this week, I listened to a Podcast by Francis Chan and he spend a lot of his time on this passage:

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

– Ephesian 3:14-21 ESV

Sometimes, God speaks to you to answer your prayers and we ignore what He is trying to say.  The great thing is that God is  in control.  He had a message to get across to me, and he Got it across.

I may have decided that I was going to give God control, but I was still keeping control of how I gave him control.  I tried to learn his will, but instead of letting the Master teach me, I kept trying to teach myself.

The biggest take away from Ephesians 3 that I needed to hear was in verse 16; it was not up to me to try harder to be better.  We give God control, not by trying harder, but allowing Christ to grant us the strength when we are filled with the Holy Spirit!  It is only through the Holy Spirit that we will every understand His will for us.  No amount of trying will ever get you there.