Monday, November 24, 2014

Always an Act of Grace

So our phones were about to get shut off. I had 24 hours to come up with enough money to pay the phone bill. I prayed. God reminded me that I could pay half, if a couple of our craigslist items sold. They did. I called Verizon and asked if I could pay half. They said I could if I wanted to, but they would also extend the shut-off date by two weeks if that would help us out. Um, yes, please.

I was reminded of our BSF lecture a few weeks ago. Our teaching leader pointed out that God's provision for our material needs doesn't always come in the form of money. Sometimes it comes in little ways, like the grocery item we need being on sale. And then she said this:

God's provision is always an act of grace.

This was new information to me. I've believed in God's provision for a while now. I created that nifty cornucopia graphic back in 2009 to go along with my series about how God met our needs during a lean time. He has always met our needs, and He always will.

But His motivation for meeting our needs was a little sketchy to me. I think my main idea was that He met our needs because we were too flaky and irresponsible to take care of ourselves. That His provision was accompanied by a little tsk, tsk, tsk. Those Frames. When will they get it together?

Never. That's when.

We will never have it together. Not because we have given up. But because we are human beings with sinful natures who will never do anything good on our own, who like sheep have gone astray, who always try to be our own gods, whose righteous acts are filthy rags because we touched them and we're filthy.

The good in us is Christ in us. The good in us is a gift to us. The good in us is grace to us. Always grace.

Just like God's provision.

It's not a sign of failure. It's not, "Dang it. I guess we need God to provide again. FAIL."

No. It is grace.

And when we think we provided for ourselves, it's not a sign of success. It's not, "Sweet! I did it! Didn't need God's help this time. WIN!"

No. It is grace.

All of our provision always comes from God, and God's provision is always an act of grace.

I intended to stop by Target on the way home from church yesterday, and the boys were excited because it meant they got to spend fifteen minutes playing new video game demos while I waited for Jeff's prescription to be filled. But he didn't need the refill immediately, and I was tired, so I decided to go straight home instead.

The boys were disappointed. "But..." said James, "Smash and Pokemon are there."

"Sorry," I replied flippantly. "You'll have to wait until another day."

"Maybe we could just buy them," James said hopefully. "They're only a hundred bucks altogether. Surely we can spare a hundred bucks."

I decided to go ahead and give him a little insight into our current financial situation. "Well," I said slowly, "Right now, we are saving our money for rent. Rent is $x,xxx, and we currently have $xxx saved up toward it."

"When is rent due?" Jonathan asked.

"December 1st."

"And do we pay that once a year, or every month?"

"Every month," I replied, blowing Jonathan's mind.

James started doing math. "Wait, so... we have five days to come up with $xxx?"

"Yep."

"What are we going to do?"

"Well, we're selling a bunch of stuff on craigslist. If it all sells, we'll have more than enough to pay rent."

"But what if it doesn't sell?"

"Then God has another plan."

Silence from the back seat.

And then, tense and anxious, "WHY. are you NOT. WORRIED?" This from James.

"Because God will provide. He always has and He always will. I've never been without a meal, without clothes to wear, without a roof over my head. And neither have you."

"I've been without a meal once," Jonathan piped in. "That one time when I was playing my game for so long that I forgot to eat lunch."

"Well," I chuckled, "You've never been without access to a meal. God has always made food available to us."

James was not convinced. "HOW. can you be so CALM? We might lose our HOUSE."

"We're not going to lose our house. We've never lost our house," I replied.

"There's a first time for everything," James retorted.

I sighed. This conversation was going in the wrong direction. "James," I said, "I didn't tell you about our finances so that you would worry. I told you so that you could spend the next five days [really seven days, but who's counting] watching God provide."

"We'll see," said James skeptically.

That's right. He will see.

So will I.

So will you.

Not only will you see (because I'll share it with you) how God provides for our needs while Jeff recovers from knee surgery and I spend my days getting more blood drawn and having more scopes shoved in me and learning all the names of the entire Everett Clinic Advanced Imaging staff.

But you will also see how God provides for you.

Because all of our provision comes from God, and all of God's provision is grace.

So that's happy.