Had a great opportunity last week as a part of a course I’m facilitating for Masters of Ministry students to spend a day outside at a contemplative retreat center. We had two 3 hour blocks of time for rest, silence and solitude. Even though I’m an extreme extrovert, I enjoy times to get away and just listen, think and pray. I found a great spot by myself next to the water in the shade (pictured above) to do some thinking.
It seems that I had quite an agenda, instead of listening, I did a lot of talking. I was anxious, nervous, unsettled and a bit scared. Last week was the first week in my 25 years of ministry life and 23 years of marriage that I did not bring home a paycheck. Severance is done and unemployment has not kicked in yet and so all provision was outside my control. I’m wired as a leader, doer, starter and ‘make things happen’ kind of guy. As far I as I knew, nothing was happening in the way I understood it. So I let God know I was anxious and worried . . .
When you get away and get quiet, sometimes God says things really clearly and this is exactly what I heard:
“Do Not Be An Accuser of My Provision!”
God directed to me to my iPhone app. for our coffee store that we just launched that shows our daily, weekly and monthly sales. (Does God speak through iPhone apps?? That’s another blog idea) He said, ‘count it up’. So I did . . . the results were that it appeared the total of our ‘random’ coffee sales for the week came to the total of my previous paycheck. Gross mind you, not even Net, God didn’t take any taxes out. “Chris, do not be an accuser of my provision!” Translation: Chris, trust me.
At that point I slowed down my thinking more, started listening more and looked around me. I started noticing things I hadn’t before: ants carrying dinner and supplies to their home, turtles sunning on the river rocks, trees waving in the wind protecting me from the sun, a snake skin shed and left near my feet, fish bubbling at the surface of the water and birds flying overhead. I was sitting in an entire ecosystem of provision and design. Everyday, day in and day out, for millions of years, the Creation receives it’s provision from it’s Creator. Who am I to be anxious?
Our culture tells us and shouts to us our entitlements. Tells us what we deserve, what we have coming to us, what we should demand, what we should control, what we should store up, what we should hoard so that we won’t be vulnerable. We get to choose a mentality of abundance or scarcity. Is the provision of God’s created world for me scarce and I should fight for resources, or is it abundant and I should trust Him at His feasting table? Do I trust Him and His provision for me and my family? The issue is of course trust.
You get to choose the voices you listen to and trust. You get to choose the source of your wisdom. The culture says the resources of our world are scarce. The Creator says his Creation is abundant and it can be trusted. I’m going with the original source. No longer an accuser, I’m grateful today. I’m learning to trust.
30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. 34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. – Mathew 6:30-34 (The Message)