Devotional Archives--God's Provision
June 21, 2004 —
he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to Him.”
I forget the promise I made to the Lord. I worry and whine instead of
few years ago we went through a lean time. I was very frustrated with my
kitchen table and chairs that kept falling apart. A business deal fell
through and with it my dreams for repairs and upgrades in our home. I was
disappointed and felt a bit abandoned. A friend of mine gently reprimanded
me. “It sounds to me like you were trusting in that situation and not in
the Lord. You know He promises to provide for your needs.”
wasn’t so worried about my basic needs that day. I struggled to let go
of my wants. My friend had an answer for that as well. She told me about a
time when she’d had a bad attitude and how she eventually looked to the
Lord for some furniture she needed. She found just what she wanted at a
garage sale . . . and it was exactly her taste and style, not just
functional, but beautiful.
thought a lot about her story. I knew God met my needs, but hadn’t dared
to believe He might care about my style and taste. I prayed that day. I
told the Lord I wouldn’t be mad at Him if He didn’t give me my desire,
but that if He cared about my taste and my style, I really needed a new
told Him I liked the kind with a white tiled top and light blonde wood. I
hoped for four matching chairs and a bench to go across one side. “If
you give me one,” I prayed, “it will be like an altar in my kitchen,
reminding me You care about my tastes and desires. When I have hard times,
I will look at the table, remember Your care, and trust You for
after that, I left for a day of shopping garage sales. My husband and I
agreed on an amount I could spend if I found a table. I happened upon a
big neighborhood sale. I drove, then walked street after street of yard
sales. It was such a great find I called a good friend who also liked to
bargain hunting and suggested she join us, which she did.
found a kitchen set. It wasn’t my favorite style, but it was solid wood
and the right price. My friend, a talented seamstress, suggested ways to
remake the chair cushions to fit my décor. As we studied it the owner
interrupted us. The table had sold.
walked away, frustrated and told my friend how much I wanted a new kitchen
set. She looked at me kind-of funny and then told me how she had a table
and four chairs that were in her way. They had never been her style and
she no longer used them. Would I be interested?
friend went on to describe her table—blonde wood surrounding white tiles
with four matching chairs. When my husband found out he sent me to the
nearest furniture store for a matching bench . . .
table still sits in my kitchen, but often I forget the promise I made the
Lord. I don’t even think of the miraculous way I received it. I just go
about my business—serve meals on it, wipe it off, and clean under it.
do I take time to remember that it is also an altar—like the stones the
Israelites piled to remind them of God’s great work in their midst.
Sometimes I still fret about our future, furniture that needs to be
replaced, and repairs that scream at me. I let them nag at me and threaten
my ability to appreciate my home.
in the midst of my bad attitudes, a pretty little table sits in my
kitchen, waiting to be noticed. I’ve never stopped enjoying it. I like
the way the white top adds to the cheer of the room. I love to sit around
the table and visit with loved ones. This week my daughter cut roses from
our bush and they looked so pretty adorning it. Its beauty blesses me even
when I forget to say thank you.
not a name it and claim it type of Christian. I believe God reveals
Himself to me in the “no’s” in life as much as in the “yes’s.”
But I do believe the Word teaches me to trust Him for my needs and that He
cares about the desires of my heart.
Matthew 5:25 & 26 (NIV), Jesus says, “ . . . do not worry about your
life, what you will eat or drink; or your body, what you will wear . .
.Look at the birds of the air; they do no sow or reap or store away in
barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more
valuable than they?”
For some reason, in His infinite wisdom, God chose to say “yes” to my plea for that kitchen table. Maybe He wanted me to trust more fully in His heart of care for me. All I know is it was beautifully tender of my Lord to give me a tangible reminder of His love. I’m sad that sometimes I forget—and tonight I long to remember.
Father, don’t let me forget the miracles You’ve done in my life. Help me to remember Your care and trust in Your provision.
June 29, 2004 —
saved her money for months and accumulated quite a sum for a four-year-old
girl. Concerned, it dawned on me that I’d never talked with her about
giving to God. I’d taught her the importance of saving for something she
wanted—which happened to be a dollhouse—but hadn’t taught her the
importance of giving.
to church that morning, I talked to Sarah about giving to God. I told her
that she didn’t have to give an offering of her little stash since we
hadn’t talked about it before, but that it was important to begin
developing a life long habit of giving back to God a part of what He
blessed her with.
sweet little girl agonized over her decision. She wanted to give money
back to God, but had been saving faithfully, dreaming of buying the
dollhouse I couldn’t afford to purchase for her. I left the decision to
her, but told her not to worry—that you couldn’t out-give God.
the end she chose to dip into her saving and give God an offering. She
seemed at peace with her decision, but I saw the struggle as she pulled
the bills from her bank. A few days later some neighbors moved
unexpectedly. When the owners of the house they rented cleaned, they found
children’s toys left behind and piled them in a heap in front of the
house for the garbage man to pick up. A friend came to visit and noticed
a dollhouse!” she said. We grabbed Sarah’s hand and ran up the block
to the pile of discarded toys. In the middle sat a perfect dollhouse
trimmed in pink siding, with a little button in the nursery that, when
pushed, lit up the room and played a lull-a-bye. Thrilled, Sarah’s eyes
we reached down to pick-up the dollhouse, Sarah pointed to several items
next to it: a couple of dolls that fit the house, a fancy pink
convertible, and some dollhouse furniture. The three of us loaded the
treasures into our arms and walked home. It didn’t take long to sanitize
the toys and then Sarah and I rushed to the store where she spent her
savings to finish furnishing the dollhouse.
and I talked about how she could never have afforded all the items given
to her that day. We both knew they were God’s special gift of love to
her. He showed my little girl, first hand, that you couldn’t out give
had a similar experience as a child. I remember squirming in my seat at
church as the usher collected an offering. I only had one dollar, and
didn’t know when I could get another. I wanted to give something to
God—but I had no change, nothing but that bill.
fought with myself as the usher drew closer to my seat. It was all I had!
Surely, God didn’t want me to give it up! But in my little girl heart I
wanted to be bigger than my selfishness. I wanted to trust God with all I
had. I fought with myself until the last minute dropped the money in the
plate just as it passed me.
that day, my grandma took me “out back” behind her house. I remember
the creak of the screen door and the coolness of her covered back porch.
“Now you don’t need to tell anyone about this,” she whispered, as
she slipped a dollar bill into my hand.
remember looking down at the bill, wondering if she knew I’d given my
last one at church that day, or if God had just whispered into her heart
that He wanted me to have one. I never asked her—just took her gift,
wrapped her in a hug, and thought about how you couldn’t out give God.
was a time that I would have thought God was just doing His duty to Sarah
with the dollhouse and to me with the dollar. We obeyed, He repaid. We
deserved His gifts. I’m saddened I could ever think that way! As I’ve
matured, I see myself for who I truly am, and more importantly, see God
for Who HE truly is—and I know I deserve nothing.
He gives me everything—salvation, eternity, and wonder of wonders,
Himself. God didn’t give out of obligation to Sarah and me. We can’t
ever do enough good works to tip the balance in our favor. God gave out of
who He is: Love. He gave because He wanted to, because He cares.
I’m struck by God’s attention to the dreams and concerns of little
girls. Not only did He give more to my daughter than she could have ever
afforded herself, but He gave her a priceless peek into His heart. He
showed her He cared about her dream and that He saw her struggle to delay
it for something of greater value.
revealed His love and provision to a little girl who took a tiny step of
faith toward Him. I don’t think she’ll ever forget this very special
glimpse into how personal He is. I pray the experience shapes her life and
lives with her, reminding her that He cares about her desires—and that
she can never out-give God.
July 5, 2004 —
piles loomed around me—not just three or four—maybe twelve or thirteen
of them. I sat on the bottom step of my stairs, where I sort dirty clothes
into appropriate piles. Staring at the mess I asked God, again, to provide
a washing machine for me. Mine had quit in the middle of washday. (Okay,
so with multiple children it takes at least two days for me to do the
laundry, not one . . . J).
telephone rang. I chatted a minute and hung up, dumbfounded. A friend had
purchased a new computer system and felt the Lord wanted me to have her
old one. Was I interested? I laughed at the irony of it. I had prayed for
a computer system until the washing machine broke—then I’d abandoned
that prayer to pray for the more pressing need. Now, instead of a washing
machine, God gave me a computer.
I processed what happened, I felt God speaking to me. I’d just made a
difficult decision to home school my then kindergartner. I’d always
planned to home school my children, but I was pregnant (again) and, after
five years of nursing and diapers, I realized how much it required to be
home with little ones.
consumed my life. My energy waned, my creativity got lost in the constant
demands of menial tasks, and my vocabulary was degenerating into something
like, “Yes, nighty-night time. Give Mommy kiss . . . ” My dream to
write lay buried under a sea of diapers and preschool books. To home
school meant more years when the demands of mothering crowded out my
do you mean you’re not sure?” My husband asked. “Isn’t this what
we planned before she was even born?”
I just don’t think I can. With the baby coming, and all I have to do.
husband said if we needed to re-think things we could, but once I was told
it was okay to consider NOT home schooling, I couldn’t back out. I knew
God had given me the desire to home school. To turn away from the choice
would go against His will, the desires of my husband, and my own heart. I
shelved my writing dreams once again.
when the computer system arrived. It was as if God whispered to me as I
sat in piles of dirty laundry, overwhelmed by the mundane tasks of the
lifestyle I’d chosen. “I’m the keeper of your dreams, Paula.” I
felt Him say. “I know you want more than laundry piles. I gave you those
dreams and I’ll see them through.”
was eight years ago. After God gave me the computer system I wrote poems
about the children’s discovery of the world, annual holiday letters, and
page after page in my journal, but for five years I didn’t pursue
writing for publication. I went to the zoo, taught little ones to read,
and sought my Father’s heart.
three years ago, I sat down at the computer with no real plans. My fingers
started moving and three months later I had a 500-page novel. I’ve spent
the last few years entering the world of writing—learning the craft of
fiction writing, developing a website, launching my weekly devotionals.
The Lord began opening doors for publication and leading me day by day, to
the next step on my writing journey. When God gave me a computer system I
couldn’t afford to buy, He not only answered a prayer, but also
confirmed a dream.
is like that. He doesn’t only provide for my needs, He provides for my
Oh, by the way, we found a nifty washer/dryer set that even matched (hadn’t had that for awhile!) through the newspaper. He took care of my laundry, too.
Father, thank you for providing for my heart. I don’t always feel I have the faith to ask you for what I need, much less what I want, yet You stand there, loving and providing just the same. Give me the faith and courage to trust you with my needs and my dreams.
July 12, 2004 —
be remembered as the blizzard of ’96. For two days the airport was shut
down. No one flew in or out. The vendors couldn’t support the need for
food for stranded travelers. Transportation even to the nearby hotels was
first day the airport was operational after the blizzard my husband and I
were to fly out for our “gift from God” vacation. I’d prayed for
months that the Lord would give me some special time alone with my husband
before child number four arrived—the fourth child in six years. When my
husband was invited to participate in a focus group at an insurance
company’s national convention—and I was invited to join him for an all
expense paid trip to a five star resort—I believed God had answered.
down the airport corridors convinced God had given my husband and me this
time, I ignored the swelling crowds and repeated announcements of
cancelled flights. The baby, due in less than two weeks, didn’t keep me
from this trip. Certainly, God wouldn’t let the weather!
We reached our gate to discover our flight had been
cancelled. We were directed to the main terminal for flight reassignment.
My courage waned. My husband kissed my cheek and whispered, “You’ve
said this is from God. If it’s His gift, don’t you think we’ll get
happy ending to the story is that we miraculously made it on one of two
flights that left for Phoenix. Hardly anyone flew out that day but we did.
We spent our mini-vacation in surroundings unlike anything either of us
had experienced—a sunken tub in our $450 per night room, plush robes,
fancy meals, pristine pools where I simply raised a flag for my every need
to be attended—all charged to the insurance company.
few years ago God gave my husband and me another gift. We were in an
incredibly difficult time financially. My husband had been laid off and we
were hanging on by a thread. During this struggle, I won a “gold”
certificate to one of my favorite restaurants and we enjoyed a night out,
all expenses paid. There was no price limit on the certificate and I
ordered deserts and lemonade and all the extras. I felt rich.
oppression lifted and my husband and I dreamed again of our hopes for the
future, something we’d been unable to do in the discouragement of
unemployment. In that moment I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “If
you’ll trust me, I’ll give you these times of refreshment.”
of the hardest things about our choice to live on one salary has been my
fear of not having the money for special times. As my husband has chosen
employment based on ministry potential and protecting time for our family
over salary level, that fear escalated.
two experiences show me God knows my need for specials times. I think I
used to believe, unconsciously, that God cared about my dedication and my
service to Him, but that I had to look out for myself when it came to the
fun stuff. He has showed me clearly that His heart is much more generous
than I thought—and that He understands the human need for refreshment.
oh why, do I fight for myself—trying to give myself the things I think I
lack? I have a Father who knows all I need and has the resources to take
care of me—if I will only learn to rest in Him for the provision.
July 19, 2004 —
Presence is Better Than His Presents
a beautiful thing to begin grasp the concept of God as provider. I don’t
think I’ll ever fully understand what Jesus meant when he told us to
consider the lilies of the field and how Solomon in all his glory wasn’t
arrayed as one of them. I haven’t yet mastered the art of not worrying
about money—despite the many gifts of provision I’ve experienced in my
went through an interesting experience last year. It seemed that doors for
provision slammed all around me. In the past, God had provided
amazingly—miracle furniture, miracle vacations, miracle car repairs . .
. but suddenly it seemed to stop. We even had a vacation offered to us
that slipped out of our hands. I was hurt. How could God dangle a carrot
and take it away? I learned a valuable lesson during this time.
used to think that, if I obeyed, God would smooth the way before me. Now I
know that obedience doesn't mean ease of details. He works things out, but
not always the way I want and, certainly, not as quickly as I thought He
would. I'm learning that He shows us, as we mature in Him, the joy in
sacrificing and obeying without the perks.
wrote a friend last winter about this issue. “When our faith is young He
seems to baby us through things,” I said, “making life easier so we
learn to trust and then gradually He allows us to enter into His suffering
and weans us from the perks. I think they'll still come when He knows we
really need them, but He stretches us longer and farther than the last
time. He keeps asking me, ‘Do you want me or my blessings?’ I keep
saying ‘You Lord! You're the BEST!’ and quietly hope for some
blessings along the way. I think I was becoming dependent on His blessings
and He wanted me to be dependent on Him.”
is big and mysterious. I don’t know why, several years ago, God gave me
a beyond-my-dreams, all expenses paid vacation with my husband and, yet
last year we didn’t even get one night alone! I don’t know why He
allows lean years that stretch and grow me, that hurt—then suddenly
things lift. I do know He knows why and I can trust Him.
that is part of what the journey is about. He provided miraculously for me
many times, showing me that I could trust Him. Then, as my faith grew, He
asked me to trust Him in things that felt a bit harder and lasted a little
longer. And He continues to teach me that He is trustworthy, both by
allowing hardship and by giving provision.
I learn to trust Him, I also learn to love Him. I’m discovering that as
much as I enjoy His perks, they are nothing compared to His presence. Too
often it is in the lean times I seek Him more passionately. Why is it in
the troubled times that I slow down to discover His heart?
found I don’t want to be dependent upon His blessings. I want to be
dependent on Him. His presents are amazing. But His presence is best.
“Lord, let me be willing to allow You to refocus my life from Your blessings to Your Person. No matter what comes and goes in my world, I know I can never lose You.”