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068  Learning to Rely on God

"“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:31-33

"The eyes of all look expectantly to You,
 And You give them their food in due season.
  You open Your hand
 And satisfy the desire of every living thing."
Psalm 145:15-16

Few of us actually believe that if we focus on the kingdom of God and His righteousness, that God will respond by providing everything that we need. We feel as though we really ought to be more practical than that.

That's partly a cultural thing. Americans, historically, are an industrious bunch, and we honor those who work the hardest to provide for themselves and the ones they love. That's actually a good thing. So it's a little bit difficult for Americans to recognize the virtue in God providing for everybody, even those who don't provide for themselves. We see these declarations by Jesus about God providing for the grass of the field, which does nothing besides stand there and look pretty, and it offends our sense of justice.

But that's exactly what He does, and we're foolish if we don't recognize it. Worse, we're likely to disobey God if we don't realize it. Most Christians refrain from tithing, for example, because they don't believe that God will respond by meeting their needs.

God gave me a lesson about relying on Him back in the 1990s when I bought my second house. We had sold a small, starter house in Mobile, AL in 1992 and moved to Philadelphia, where we rented a home for 3 years (I had four kids at the time). Then God stirred me up to start considering buying a house even though I had very little savings, and then He dropped a perfect home in front of my face one day. I won't tell the whole story here, but it was clear as day that God was involved. It was a 3-story frame house about 100 years old, in good shape in a good neighborhood, and I had the opportunity to buy it for about half its worth directly from the estate that was selling it.

The process of securing a loan taxed my faith repeatedly. We got turned down right and left. I kept hearing God saying that we should persist, and we pushed our way through the buying process as though everything was fine. In the end, the loan was approved--at the closing. We went into the closing with no money, and came out with a house and an affordable mortgage. I can't begin to tell you how that happened; it just did.

During that time when I was hearing God telling me to keep pushing through the process, God also put me in contact with a missionary who had ministered to families in rural Guatemala. This missionary told me of a family there in the mountains of Guatamala, a man, his wife, and five children. Every day, the man and his oldest son would walk a few miles down the mountain into the nearest town and look for jobs, working in the fields or doing labor. They would earn enough between them to buy a few vegetables for dinner, then hike back up the mountain at the end of the day. The money was never really enough to feed the seven of them. And yet, the missionary assured me, every day that family had enough to eat, and sat down to it thanking God for providing for them one more day.

I don't envy that family their poverty; I'm happy to have enough to eat every day without having to see God perform a miracle. But God made it clear to me that that man and his family walked more closely with Him than I did, and benefited deeply from relying on Him every day in a way that I did not have to. There I was, relying on God to move some bankers to approve a loan, relying on Him for specific provision for the first time in years. That happy, poor Guatamalan family met God every day, and thanked Him daily when they saw His hand feed them once again.

And God made the lesson plain to me: my affluence created a cushion between me and Him, a cushion that made it so that I did not have to be aware of the many ways that He was providing for me. I could give God lip service, but it did not have to be heart service because I got a regular paycheck that paid for the essentials. It wasn't until I needed a loan that I had to dig into God and trust Him actually to do anything specific.

The Proverbs describe that situation like this:

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
 The righteous run to it and are safe.
 The rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
 And like a high wall in his own esteem." 
Proverbs 18:10-11

Verse 10 tells us where we should live: YHWH keeps us safe. Verse 11 tells us where we Americans usually live: our affluence keeps us safe. We count on it. "Who needs YHWH? I work hard for the money that I make." This is foolishness arising from too much wealth, wealth which we lack the character to carry with appropriate respect for God.

The Israelites similarly lacked that character. God warned them about it in Deuteronomy 8, which includes these phrases: "Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God...then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’" Deuteronomy 8:11,17 Go read the whole chapter, and especially verses 11 through 17, where God warns them about forgetting God when they get too comfy.

I'm not one of those who calls wealth "sin," but I do recognize how wealth insulates us against the very things that God uses to speak to us. As one minister I heard from time to time used to say, "All the benefits of wealth are temporal, but all the dangers of wealth are eternal." If we want to walk closely with God, we have to stop trusting our wealth, and trust Him instead.

Everything we have comes from God. He furnishes us with employment. He upholds Social Security. He controls the banks and the economy. Every bit of food that we have ever eaten, He provided. We may not have seen His hands, but He may as well have been feeding us directly with a spoon. He's the source. And you and I need to recognize Him as the source, thank Him as the source, trust that it is Him and His good pleasure that keep us alive every day--even if we don't have to see Him perform a miracle every time we're hungry. The truth is, He does perform those miracles. We just weren't present when He did it. But we would not be eating if He hadn't.

One more thing: if you tithe, good for you. If you don't, you should start. Ten percent, off the top, to some minister who's doing good in Jesus' name. Hopefully, that's the ministers at the church you attend, but if you want to tithe elsewhere, just make sure God gets it. If you can't afford 10%, give it anyhow--and watch how God makes sure that you have everything you need. As Jesus said, and we really ought to believe: if you seek the kingdom of God first, God will supply what you need. Those are not just idle words. They're true.

If you make God's business your business, God will make your business His business.

Phil Weingart

As always, here are the links to my books. If you haven't got yours yet, click on the images and you'll be taken to Amazon's web site, where you can buy the books in trade paperback or Kindle format.


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