Learning to trust God’s complete provision

I double booked myself. Again. I hadn’t done that in a long time. I told someone I could give them a ride at a certain time, but I forgot I had already arranged to help somebody out on the same day.

What do you do when you need to be in two places at once? How do you decide what is more important? They’re both important.

The way it works for me? When I end up double booked (which has happened more frequently than I care to admit), I pray about it. Maybe that sounds cliched, but when I am lost, that’s the best solution I’ve found to help me get sorted out again. And usually, God tells me what I need to do. He makes it clear to me what I’m supposed to choose.

But what do you do about the person you’ve left hanging? How do you handle that situation? Well, funny story, I offered to help find a replacement for me, and I got the surprise of my life. I discovered that God had already prepared a more qualified person in my place. I just had to ask.

God had already known what I was going to need. I just had to sit back and trust that He would provide.

givingToday’s verse is Philippians 4:19.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

This is Paul talking, and Paul had more reason than anyone to complain about his lot in life. Seriously, I think he spent more time in prison than outside of it. But he never lacked anything he needed.

This is what I need to wrap my head around.

God will always provide what I need. God will always make a way for me. He will always get me everything I need–all of it. Not just some of it. Not half of it. All of it. That’s a promise.

Now, that doesn’t mean He’ll always give us what we want. No, what we want and what we need are rarely the same. But in my experience, I’ve found that most of the time, God still gives us what we want too.

It’s hard to trust Him. It’s a lot easier to just jump in and do what you think is right, regardless of whether it is or not. It may start out easier, but it’s harder in the long run.

But if you can let go, if you can truly trust God with everything, you’ll understand that His provision is complete. He knows what we need, and He provides for us, like a father provides for his children.

He knows what we need better than we do anyway. You know that right? He knows what’s good for us. But we have to take that step where we surrender our entire being to Him. And beyond that, we have to be willing to surrender our future, our comfort, and our preconceived notions to Him.

It’s not easy, but it’s better. And He won’t let us go without.

If you are following God and feel like you’re going without, think twice about that thing you don’t have that you want so desperately. Could it be that it isn’t as good for you as you think?

God already knows what you need, and He wants to give it to you. So just sit back, wait, be patient. It’s much better to be given something than it is to just take it.

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The plaza fountain at Bradley Fair, Wichita, KS

Following God’s lead even if you think you know better

I’d like to think I’m a fairly organized person, but the truth is my life is pretty chaotic. I go at it with the best of intentions, but as Robert Burns once wrote: “the best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.” And that’s what happens to me. I plan and I scheme and I prepare, and when the event I’m getting ready for arrives, I end up winging it anyway. And that’s okay, but sometimes I get tired of flying by the seat of my pants.

I had a moment yesterday to just sit and think. Those moments don’t come as often as I’d like, and I don’t make time for them like I should. Everyone needs a moment (or two moments) to think about what they’re doing, where they’re going, how they’re living and how their choices today may affect their life tomorrow. And as I was thinking about preparing for 2014, making budgets, planning for trips, getting ready for my parents’ possible upcoming retirement, I was tempted to start worrying. Because there’s a lot to do in a year, and usually all my time is consumed by taking care of the unforeseen events in life, not even counting the ones I wanted to accomplish.

But as I was thinking today, I had to stop and just marvel at God’s provision. At the beginning of this year, I couldn’t have told you that everything that’s happened to me would have happened. As I look back on 2013, I’m stunned speechless at what I’ve been able to do, where I’ve been able to go, all the things God’s let me accomplish, and how He has miraculously provided for me in every situation.

The plaza fountain at Bradley Fair, Wichita, KS

The plaza fountain at Bradley Fair, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Isaiah 58:11.

The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.

Sometimes I feel like I’m wandering through life without a plan, and that frustrates the dickens out of me because I like plans. I like maps. I like knowing the big picture so I know how badly I can screw up before I ruin everything. And I feel like I’m constantly in that phase of life where I have a basic idea of where I’m going and what I’m doing, but I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

So when I read a verse like this that says God is continuously guiding me, it makes me laugh a little. I’m being honest here, okay? Because is He really? If He is, sometimes I think He’s being awfully subtle about it, and subtle doesn’t work with me. I’m like a guy in that regard. I follow directions much better if you just come out and tell me instead of hedging around the subject. Subtext and subtlety to me are kind of like uncomfortable shoes; they serve no useful purpose.

But the moment I start questioning whether or not God is guiding me, I immediately start thinking of all the things I’ve done and places I’ve gone and people I’ve met that I should never have had the opportunity to experience. I think of everything that’s happened in my life that I can’t take credit for, and in all of those miracles, His hand is obvious. But a lot of that is because hindsight is truly 20/20. It’s difficult to see His hand moving when you’re in the valleys, and sometimes you have to get to the mountain top before you can see the trail He was leading you on.

But more than just guiding me, looking back over my life, even in the moments where I felt like I was wandering, I never lacked anything I needed. True, I didn’t have some things I wanted, but wants and needs are very different. Even in college when I was living from paycheck to paycheck on ramen noodles and dollar-store spaghetti, God still provided people in my life who helped me. God put me in the places I needed to be, and He gave me the opportunities to step up and be faithful with what He gave me. And He proved Himself to me big time over and over and over again.

So where are you today? Are you sure you know where you’re going, or are you wandering around feeling listless? Take a moment and read Isaiah 58. The whole thing. It’s not long, and it’s worth it. Walking with God isn’t about rules and regulations and rituals that only have symbolic meaning and no real life application. Following God isn’t about being good or following the rules or putting on a good Christian show. It’s about living life with Him. It’s about living and loving the way He does.

God never stops guiding us. He never stops leading us. If we get turned around, it’s because we took someone else’s directions. But God’s still on the path. He’s still waiting for us to turn around and go back to where He is.

So if you’ve gotten off the path, go back. If you haven’t left, don’t leave. Just keep following where He’s leading you, and along the way, you won’t lack anything you need. In fact, he’ll continuously provide, not just basic needs but strength too. He’s promised, so He’ll do it. You may feel like He’s leading you in circles, but that’s part of trusting His sense of direction more than your own.

Chicken yakisoba I made one day just because I could, Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

God will provide

What do you need? I’m not talking about what you want, because what we want and we need are rarely the same. But what do you need? Do you need a job? Do you need a car? Do you need food to eat? Do you need clothing to wear? I’m going to make the assumption that you are reading this blog post on your computer or your tablet or your phone, which probably means you have your immediate physical needs met at the moment. That is an assumption, and I never know where these crazy posts end up, so if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

All of us have needs. Our needs vary greatly from person to person, and our needs today may be completely different than our needs tomorrow. So when you need something, who do you ask? When I was younger, I would ask my parents. If I needed something, I knew they were there to provide for me. But I’m not that young anymore, and while I still sometimes turn to my parents for help, most of the things I need are things that they really can’t give me. Most of the things I need are things they shouldn’t give me if I want to call myself an adult.

So who do you ask? Friends? Family? The government?

Chicken yakisoba I made one day just because I could, Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Chicken yakisoba I made one day just because I could, Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Philippians 4:19.

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

This is one of the closing verses of the Book of Philippians, where Paul is saying his farewells to the people of the Church. This verse comes off a previous paragraph (Philippians 4:14-18) that thanks the Church of Philippi for their support and their gifts that helped sustain him when he was on one of his missionary journeys. He identifies the Church of Philippi as “the only ones who gave me financial help.” He also says no other church did this, at least at that time.

And at the end of this paragraph where he is thanking the Church of Philippi for providing for him, he writes down this verse that says God will provide. God will provide? Sounds to me like the Church of Philippi provided. Is Paul being facetious? Is he being sarcastic about this? How can he go from saying “thank you for all the money you sent me” to “God will take care of you too” in one breath?

I really believe that you have to understand how God works for this to make sense. This is what I’ve learned through many years of following Christ: Whether through miraculous circumstances or the generosity of fellow believers, God will always provide for your needs.

If you’re a Christ follower, you’ve experienced this. You’ve been sitting in church and listening and all of a sudden you feel an undeniable urge to give money. Or you’re walking down the street and you feel this sudden pull to give somebody some money or help somebody out. Do you really think that’s you? I mean, maybe you’re a good enough person to just randomly walk around giving people money and helping people out, and if you are, good for you. I’m not that good. But God is. And God lives in me. And He tells me sometimes that I need to help somebody or I need to give somebody some money.

When that happens, I hesitate sometimes because honestly I live paycheck to paycheck. You would think a single person living in a paid-for house and a paid-off car with a full-time career would be fine, but it’s the little everyday expenses that kill you. But every time God has told me to help someone else financially, those times when it was a financial burden for me, He has always provided for me. He’s always made up the difference, and usually He provides more than I need.

Sometimes those needs are met through circumstances and situations that nobody has control over. In those instances, I can only thank God. But other times, people provide for me–like my parents or like my friends or like strangers on the street, and in those instances, I can thank them but I also need to thank God because He moved them to do it.

Philippians is one of those books that I never get tired of reading. It’s all about how to be happy. It’s about how to be content and joyful in living and following Christ. And a big part of that is trusting that God will provide for you, no matter what you need.

And God does. Maybe he’ll use a miracle, maybe he’ll use your next door neighbor (and maybe that is a miracle), but He will provide. He might even use you to provide for someone else, but you can trust that if He asks you to do something, He will provide for the hole it leaves.

That’s who He is. He is our God who provides what He requires. We just have to trust that He will.

We Americans don’t think about it because we don’t usually sacrifice anything; we’re not used to it. But standing up what Paul was doing back then could have been a death sentence. In all honesty, in parts of our world today it still is, just not in the U.S. Not yet.