Monday, December 08, 2008

As long as God provides . . .

Several years ago, we started a tradition. We buy Bibles for every couple Mike marries. We even have their name and wedding date engraved on the front. It has been fun over the years to give them. We truly hope and pray that even those who do not follow Christ or even attend church will look to it for answers when they need help. It's probably more than we need to do, but it's something we love to do and want to do.

Someone in our church commented on what a great ministry that was to which I piously replied, "As long as God provides the money, we'll keep doing it." And why wouldn't God provide the cash for such a noble endeavor?

Well, much to my shock and dismay God has not been providing the money. The last few weddings we did we just couldn't swing it. I thought we could use the money that they paid us to get the Bibles after the fact, only they didn't pay us. We still payed for babysitters for the rehearsal and the wedding ceremony.

So why would God not provide money to buy people Bibles? I can see why there might not be the cash for a Hummer or a jacuzzi or a trip to Hawaii - but a Bible?

In the book Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancey, he writes about God's provision.

"Christians often read the Bible in such a way that exaggerates God's promises, setting themselves up for later disillusionment. "Look at the birds of the air," Jesus once said; "they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them . . . .See how the lilies of the field grow. The do not labor or spin." From such verses, readers infer that God will always provide, which then brings about a major crisis of faith when drought and famine arrive.

The lilies of the field may grow without labor, but their growth also depends on the regular systems that produce weather. In years of severe drought, they neither labor nor spin nor survive."

His conclusion is that God's interventions are less like lightning bolts and more like a river.

"His presence sustains all creation at every moment: "in him [Christ] all things hold together," said Paul . His presence also flows into individuals who align themselves with him; God's Spirit, and invisible companion, works from within to wrest good from bad."
It seems like I have been conditioned to believe in my "USA" self-centered theology that God will provide what I think is best. It's not even a vending machine mentality as much as a prideful, of course God would concur attitude.

The thing is that most people in the US have a Bible somewhere. Most people have access to the internet and the library where the text is readily available. And although it's nice to start them off with a momento of their special day it certainly is not the only way they can experience God's grace.

We usually have the couples over to our house for dinner during the premarital sessions. (It can also be a good reminder on the importance of birth control!) They can experience God through their contact with us and our friendship comes for free. We have cases of paperback Bibles at the church office that we keep on hand to give to anyone who needs one.

Maybe I was feeling a little too good about myself and our leather, engraved Bible ministry. God is showing me that whatever the provisions or rations are at the time, the most important thing for me to recognize is that He's THERE. No matter what I have or don't have in wealth or health he's always with me. And I want to be there for him, continuing the work he has for me no matter what the price .

Philippians 4:11-13
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.


Joel and Jenn said...

Please let me know when your book of all your blog entries is going to come out! You are so good at hitting at the heart of the matter! Ugh - too good sometimes! Thanks Michelle. Keep it up!

Michelle said...

yeah um I'll send you an autographed copy.

Bonny said...

I don't think I can count how many glib and pious-sounding "Christian" things I've said over the years. Yep!

Bonny said...
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