In part 2 of this mini-series of posts, I mentioned that it’s not always easy to rely on God’s provision. I’m pretty sure this resonated with many people. And it continues to be a lesson I’m learning, too. Again and again . . .
Like the Psalmist, who among us hasn’t gotten to the point in our relationship with God, when over troubles related to health, family, job or money, we’ve thrown up our hands and cried aloud, “What do you want from me, God?”
Actually, although that’s likely a sentence wrung from extreme emotions, it’s the perfect place to start, or even the perfect hand-hold to find on the arduous climb up the steep mountain of faith.
What does God want from us? In Micah 6:8, we read an answer: “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Great answer, Micah, and it looks terrific on a plaque we hang in our family rooms, but what exactly does that mean?
Jesus gives us a little more insight in Mark 12:30-32: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
It’s still not a step-by-step manual, is it? And to be honest, I could write a book on this topic (thousands have done just that; go to the Christian Living section of any faith-based bookstore). But let’s start here. to love someone, anyone, the first step is to get to know that person. God desires to be known by us. This is basically the theme of the Bible. He yearns for us to be so close to Him, to find intimacy with Him, to seek it with our whole beings. Only then can we even begin the process of loving Him.
What you will find is that part of the nature of God and how he expresses His love is His desire to provide for us. He is drawing us closer by asking that we rely on Him, and as we grow in Him, He will ask us to depend on Him more and more. It means relying on God rather than humans, banks, institutions, jobs, pay checks, book sales, IRAs, 401(k)s, insurance . . . none of those are evil, in and of themselves, but when we put our faith in them above God, they take on an unhealthy role in our lives and in our faith.
This is not something we learn once and live out forever. It’s a daily activity, sometimes hourly, even. For me, personally, I have to be reminded frequently.
The other day, my daughter brought me the money for her phone bill. She’s living at home and works, but I know she doesn’t make a lot. I asked if she was sure she wanted to pay that bill just now; I could carry her a bit, if it would make things easier on her.
“No, I need to do this,” she replied. “I have the money right now, and while I want to just hold onto it, I feel like God is asking me to let it go and trust Him.”
I was convicted by her words, because I’d needed to hear just that. I was reminded of something I’d read years ago: if we are holding onto something tightly, it is impossible for us to receive what God wants to give us. Try it. Make a fist, and try to catch something–anything. It’s virtually impossible.
This means that God wants us to be givers so that we can be receivers. Giving out of lack is a recurring theme in scripture, which means it’s something Jesus is asking us to do. If He asks something from us, it’s for our good. He doesn’t ask us to do things out of petty caprice. Each and every command is for our protection or growth.
I’d challenge you, then, if you are feeling a lacking or anxious about anything regarding what you have, act against conventional wisdom. Give. Give so that God may provide for you. Give so that He may bless you even more than you have given away; God will never be out-given.
I think of the widow, giving her last coin in the temple. I remember a story Catherine Marshall shared about a woman who owned a motel that she had dedicated to the purposes of God. She found herself with unbooked rooms for a long time, and her coffers were emptying fast. While praying, she felt moved to send the last of her funds to a ministry in New York.
Any financial advisor would call this madness. But God’s wisdom is often unappreciated by the world. In faithfulness and trust and obedience, this motel owner sent off the check.
That very night, every room in the motel was full, and so it remained for weeks, giving her more than enough to pay her bills. God will never be outdone by our generosity!
I’m embracing this lesson today. I urge you to try it. Give out of what you have. Open your hands and see how God will fill them. Trust, have faith and obey. Let Him bless you, even as you bless others.