Friday, September 5, 2008

A Vision of Provision

This is an article that I wrote for my church a while back . . .

About a year ago, my husband and my son boarded a small private plane that was being piloted by my father-in-law, who had received his pilot's license the previous year. Yes, I was very nervous, but I tried to conceal those feelings and trust that Kevin's dad could not have obtained a license unless he really knew how to fly a plane. But still, I was sending my beloved husband . . . and my only son (who really loves his Mommy!) . . . into the wild blue yonder . . . in a very small aircraft. I bit my lower lip while telling them good-bye and then waited for my husband's final words to me (hoping that they weren't literally his final words to me). "Carrie," he said. "Yes?," I asked, waiting for the most romantic words to trickle from his tongue. "I know this isn't the best time to talk about this, but you need to know where the life insurance policy is . . . " I can't really tell you what he said after that, because my heart jumped up into my throat; my vision blurred; and my ears wanted nothing to do with what he was saying. Are you kidding me?! was all I could think. So I spent the next few hours anxiously awaiting the phone call that told me they were on the ground (safely). The call came much later than it was supposed to, so my blood pressure was sky high! But they were fine.

I couldn't imagine losing Kevin. What would I do? How would I make it? We have three children who need their Daddy. How would I provide for us financially? I think that these are pretty normal thoughts, although in today's society we do have things like life insurance policies (that Kevin so kindly reminded me of) to help take care of loved ones who are left behind. And I'm sure I could find a job somewhere, but then who would take care of my children while I'm at work? I want to be the one to take care of them!

Obviously, these thoughts could go on forever. I could literally make myself go crazy with them. But the reality is that women become widows every day. They are suddenly left alone and no longer have their soul mates sitting beside them ready to give advice or even just to listen. A long time ago, a "certain woman," as the Bible calls her, found herself in this very situation. She was left alone with two sons and creditors banging on her door, threatening to take her sons as slaves if she couldn't pay up. I can only imagine how frightened and confused and desperate she must have felt. To whom should she turn? Well, her husband was a son of a prophet, so she went to the prophet Elisha to ask his advice.

"What do you have in the house?," he asked her. "Nothing except a jar of oil," she replied. Where is he going with this? she probably wondered. He then proceeded to tell her to go ask all her neighbors if she could borrow empty vessels from them and then to go back into her house with her sons, shut the door behind them, and begin pouring her oil into these vessels. Okaaaay. Whatever you say, Elisha. She apparently didn't ask him any questions out loud. After all, this is the guy who, just a couple of chapters ago, got two bears to destroy 42 young boys for calling him "baldhead"! Yeah, you don't mess with this guy, nor do you question him when he tells you to do something.

So this "certain woman" and her sons did just what he said. And what happened next was simply a miracle. They began pouring oil from their own jar, and it just kept flowing until ALL of the borrowed vessels were full! I wish I could have been there to see the looks on their faces and hear their comments as they saw this happening. I'll bet the boys were especially excited, and however you say "No way!" in Hebrew probably escaped their lips a time or two. And what must their neighbors have thought? I'm sure they were full of questions about what really happened behind those closed doors.

I find it really interesting that God so often chooses to perform His miracles behind closed doors and with only a handful of eyewitnesses. Jesus even told some of those whom He had healed not to tell anyone about it. I'm not sure why that is. He also seems to enjoy healing and helping people in very creative and unusual ways--using things like mud and spit, a fish with a coin in its mouth, a rod that turns into a snake and then back into a rod again, or even a talking donkey! In this case, He multiplied enough oil to allow this woman to sell it and pay off her debt as well as have enough money leftover for her and her sons to live on. Truly a miracle!

I personally haven't experienced anything quite like this woman experienced. When Kevin was in college, he received a large box of samples of shaving cream, and he didn't have to buy shaving cream for TEN YEARS!!! Yes, it's true that he doesn't like to shave all that often, but that's still a very long time to go without having to restock. That's about the closest example I can come up with to compare to the never-ending oil spill. But that wasn't a miracle--just a big promotion by Edge. Now if he had gotten ten years' supply out of just one can--well, that might be comparable!

God's love, compassion, and concern for our daily lives is always so overwhelming to me. He cared about this woman, and He performed a miracle through Elisha so that she could keep her sons with her and not ever have to worry about money. The oil is such a picture of His love for us--filling us up completely and constantly--more than enough for all of us! God promises never to leave us or forsake us. He promises to provide for our needs (our true needs, not our wants for things like big screen TVs). He tells us to look at the birds and the flowers and how much He cares for them but how much MORE He cares for us, His children. I think about how much I love and care for my own children and how I would do anything in the world to provide for them. That doesn't mean that I spoil them or give them everything they want. I even allow them to go through tough experiences in order to teach them a lesson. They receive consequences for their poor choices. But it doesn't mean that I don't love them. It is because I love them that I discipline them. And while they might get angry at me at the moment, they never question my love for them. Neither do they wonder if I'll give them something to eat or a place to sleep for the night. They know that they are being provided for, just as God provides for us. His love is rich, and His promises are true.

My challenge is for each of us to be aware of how God provides for us on a daily basis. I think that we take far too much credit for how our needs are met. And I'm not just talking about our physical needs. We all have spiritual, emotional, and mental needs, too. We should be aware and be thankful for those times when God sends just the right person into our lives to give us advice or a listening ear, when He provides an especially beautiful day that lifts our spirits, or when He brings a particular song or Scripture to our minds that was exactly what we needed to hear from Him at that moment. And look for His creativity in your life! It may not be as amazing as never-ending oil, but it is still amazing. His speaking to you might also occur behind closed doors, and you might be the only eyewitness, but that just means you can praise Him and thank Him and act as crazy as you want, because it's just the two of you! You can even shout, "No way!" in Hebrew, if you want.

1 comment:

michael and anne said...

Thanks for posting this. Because I read it yesterday, I could go to church with a better attitude today. He has given us so much, most of all, himself. And that's enough.