How a blanket reminded me that God’s way is always better

We’re getting ready for a new resident at Safe Haven Farm. I haven’t really said too much about it because I wasn’t sure how everything was going to work out, but because of some visa issues, my best friend who has been living in England for 2.5 years is coming back to Kansas. And we’re super excited that she’s going to be moving in here at the farm! But I can’t give her back her old room from the six months she lived here during her last furlough. That room has since been converted into an office and shipping area for my crazy book business, so the only room I’ve got for her is–get ready for it–my old closet.

Now, truth be told, the closets here at the farm are pretty massive. I’ve had a guest room in one for the last few months, and it works just fine. So she’ll have plenty of room. My only concern is the fact that the second floor of the farm still has no heat or air conditioning, and the winter months are coming. It gets freakin’ cold up here. I acclimate really fast, and I’m super hot blooded, so it doesn’t bother me. But I wanted to make sure that my friend wouldn’t freeze to death.

My plan was to buy a little infrared heater and an electric blanket for her room, but there was just a tiny little problem. I don’t have a steady paycheck anymore, and I don’t just have $50 laying around that I can invest in heaters or electric blankets. And, good grief, electric blankets are pricey!

But God’s been teaching me a lot about trusting him over the past 10 months or so. In the past, I would have just rushed out and purchased what I needed, but this time, I wanted to leave it up to Him. So that’s what I did.

Shortly thereafter, I found a cute little electric heater on sale for $10 at Wal-Mart, and it’s perfect. And yesterday as I was cleaning out another closet that my friend can use for storage and clothing, you’ll never guess what I found. That’s right–a practically new twin-size electric blanket. We didn’t even know we had it. It’s just been sitting in a pile of plastic bags in this old closet upstairs for who knows how long.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like a miracle of provision to anyone else, and that’s fine. But it’s exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. And I walked around all day long yesterday just grinning ear to ear because God took care of a need, and I didn’t have to do anything about it. And that, Christians, is exactly how we’re supposed to live.

The second floor guest bedroom (aka my old closet) at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The second floor guest bedroom (aka my old closet) at 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.

Over and over and over again, the Bible tells us that God will provide for us. Over and over and over again, I experience His blessings on a daily basis, but there’s something in my brain that keeps me from grasping that He isn’t going to stop providing for me. There’s this idea in my head that tells me one day He won’t come through, one day He’ll realize that I’m not worth His time.

I’ve given God every reason to give up on me. He knows my heart. He knows how screwed up I get sometimes. He knows that I struggle to trust Him. And if He hasn’t given up on me yet, He isn’t going to.

But I think we look at God’s provision with a skewed perspective. It’s not wrong to ask God for what we need. It’s not even wrong to ask God for what we want. But where is your heart when you ask Him for something? If you ask God for something and He doesn’t deliver, do you get upset? Do you take it out on Him? Do you walk away from Him because you think He’s a liar or a trickster?

If that’s your response when God doesn’t give you your way, your heart isn’t in the right place about what you’re asking for.

God has promised to provide everything we need, and He always keeps His promises. I needed a heater and an electric blanket, and I decided to sit back and let Him provide them instead of rushing out ahead of Him to get them myself. And He came through. And if He can come through so perfectly on something like this, He’ll absolutely come through on the bigger things. I just have to have the same faith and patience about the big issues in life as I do about the small issues.

What are you asking God for today? Or have you asked Him for something and then turned away from Him because He didn’t give you what you wanted? Don’t walk away because you didn’t get your way. His way is always better.

The first step may be hard, but the second step is harder

I rely on GPS navigation when I’m in a city I don’t know, but–just being honest–even when I’m in a city that I do know, I’m not the best navigator in the world. I’m a landmark navigator. I’ve gotten better at knowing roads, but my default method of getting from point A to point B is to memorize the location of the fast food joints on the corners of the intersections.

It’s not easy to navigate a road you’ve never driven on. Even if you “drive” it digitally on Google Maps, that still can’t prepare you for the potholes that mysteriously appear when you least expect them. And nothing can help you get ready for the long, tedious, barren trek between Hays, Kansas, and Colorado Springs, Colorado. And that’s not even the longest, most tedious, most barren trek in the United States. Anyone ever been to Big Bend National Park in Texas? Talk about emptiness!

Maybe you know where you’re going, but you aren’t sure how you’re going to get there. It’s said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, and that’s true. But it’s not the first step that’s hard. It’s the second and the third and the fortieth and the 500th, not knowing what you’ll find after you take that step.

PillarOfFire (2)Today’s verses are Exodus 13:21-22.

The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.

When the Children of Israel left Egypt under Moses’ guidance (after Pharaoh let them go), they were walking through unknown territory. It was a land nobody knew on a journey that nobody had ever taken before, and God–in His grace–gave them a way to navigate the unfamiliar terrain. He basically walked in front of them with a pillar-shaped cloud during the day. At night time, the cloud would catch fire and provide them with light during the evening hours. And if God wanted them to move during the night, the pillar of fire would move.

That’s how they got around. The pillar would move, so they would move. When the pillar didn’t move, neither did they. Can you imagine? Walking around in the desert wilderness following a giant cloud? Stopping when the cloud stopped? Moving when it moved?

I think that trumps GPS, honestly. I just don’t trust technology all the time. But a towering pillar of cloud or fire? Heck, yeah. I could follow that just fine, once I got over the idea that it was God Himself moving around in front of me.

What stood out to me about this passage, though, is the fact that God knew where He wanted the Children of Israel to go. He knew where He was leading them, and they were content to follow (for the most part). God only took them as far as they needed to go for one day. He didn’t call down in a mighty voice that the next day they would cross a scary wooden bridge. He didn’t tell them that in two weeks they would have to climb a mountain. He didn’t enlighten them that in one month they would have to swim across a piranha-infested lake.

Yes, I made that up. But you get the idea.

The Children of Israel didn’t need to know what was going to happen in a week. They didn’t need to know what was going to happen months and months. All they needed to know was where they needed to go for that day. One day at a time, one step at a time. That’s how God led them. Do we think He operates any differently today?

I’m a planner. I like to know what’s coming so I can prepare–mentally, physically, emotionally. But I don’t need to know. What I need to do is trust God. If He moves, I should move. When He stops, I should stop. That’s what I have to remember. I need to let Him guide me the way He guided Israel when they left Egypt.

Maybe their situation wasn’t ideal, but think about it. They knew where they needed to go that day, and God provided for them. Seriously, what more do you need? Maybe it’s nice to know where you’re going to end up, but do you really want to know? If you’d have told me ten years ago what I would have to go through to get to this point in my life, I would have been terrified. Instead, God gave me the opportunities I needed when I needed them so that I could face my current struggles with the experience I’d gained earlier in life.

God doesn’t waste time–His or yours. Just trust Him enough to follow Him, and you’ll see.