I can’t tell you all of the feelings, thoughts and memories that came flooding to the surface this last week in Hurricane Ida’s wake. Today I want to share some of my ramblings written 16 years ago in the aftermath of Katrina. I lost almost everything in Katrina and at the same time gained a world of experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. I pray these words are challenging and encouraging.
I have come to the conclusion over the last several weeks, after this hurricane, that God’s people (or at least a large amount of them) do not really trust Him to provide for them. If they did why do they scrimp and struggle and dig and break their backs to accumulate the things that they want? We speak of God’s provision as something in the ‘spiritual realm’ rather than the actual universe/environment that we live in. We seem to make some division between understanding and experiencing God’s love and allowing Him in that love to meet our needs. We say, ‘hold us, Daddy, for we are weak or lonely or sad, but, in the end let us stand on our own two feet when we have to provide for ourselves; put food on our tables or clothes on our backs.’
God forbid a disaster such as that which has taken place in the aftermath of Katrina bring His Church to their knees in understanding the care of their Father, but I pray that something might break us to help us see the reality: God will take care of his children.
The great leader/writer T.W. Hunt says, “Prayer can have no meaning unless it takes into account God’s total nature. He is holy; we come to him on those grounds. He is love; we pray knowing that he is concerned about our needs. Because he is merciful, God understands and cares about human need. In most of the prayers of biblical characters, God took the initiative. It is that initiating God who tells us, “Ask and it shall be given…”
“Keep asking and it will be given to you. Keep searching and you will find. Keep knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7.7-8)
Ask…Seek…Knock—God is holy yet He invites us to COME TO HIM. In the Old Testament we see the seekers and followers responding to God in spite of and because of his holiness. They come face to face with the fact that He is infinitely bigger than they, so much so that they feared for their lives, yet they were compelled to call upon Him anyway. May we be found doing the same—coming to God with as much understanding as we can possibly muster of his holiness and righteousness, but with enough courage to lay our requests and needs on the altar, confident that He will be faithful to His promise to answer.
“It shall be given…you shall find…it shall be opened”—Know that God isn’t obligated to oblige us. There is no hidden clause that says every time we ask of God He must answer accordingly. There is however the promise of His love. And it is in this love we learn of a faithful God; One who never sleeps but seeks out the needs, hurts and desires of His children. We see this over and over in the OT but never is it more clearly portrayed than in the sending of His Son as the sacrifice for OUR sins. As a whole WE did not ask, WE did not seek, and the whole of humanity certainly did not knock on the doors of heaven, but all throughout history faithful individuals did and God heard their prayers. Woven into the plan for creation we see, from the time of Adam’s fall and his son’s/grandson’s “call” to the Lord, a plan for redemption. Humankind did not know the depths of its Creators love until Calvary. Yes it had seen great things and deliverances such as that from Egypt that have not been matched. But the depths were plumbed and the heights scaled when sin was wiped from the slate of judgment for eternity. This is the love that we must learn to trust so completely, to know that if the cross was the limit then certainly our trials and needs fit within the margins.
“Everyone…”—It is in this one word that we see the absolute mercy of God. We are not serving a ‘ho-hum’ God who is able and sufficient to meet our needs and even goes to the lengths necessary to see that they are met. Our God is One who actively searches our hearts and lives, looking to and fro throughout every nook and cranny to see if there is anything He can do to make our lives sweeter or our relationships more fulfilled. We don’t see a next-week or even a next-day Responder in our Need-Meeter, rather a Johnny-on-the-spot Assessor and Provider who is ready to give and give and give until the needs are met. There is not a select few that are privileged to this access and response rather “everyone…”who asks receives! Praise God for his all-inclusive mercy! If it were not so, I have a feeling that I would probably be on the ‘almost, but quite didn’t make it’ list!
So what do we do with all of this? How do we respond to God in His continual request of us to drop what we are doing or trying to do and allow him to work in our lives and specifically PROVIDE for us? I believe prayer is central to this revolution. I call it a revolution because it is. It is overturning the traditions of the last few generations of God’s people, fighting the temptation Satan throws in our faces that we are obligated to do something in order for God to provide for us, and struggling with our own desires to be self-sufficient. PRAYER. Why prayer? In order to grasp the infiniteness of God’s desire to take care of His children, we must right our relationship with Him. As long as we trust more in our faithfulness to ourselves rather than His to us or ours to Him, there is a major misunderstanding present. And relationships with major misunderstandings don’t function well! We must begin to seek God; before we ask; before we act (knock), we must seek Him. We can see God act over and over but if we don’t understand what is going on we will not be able to make this a part of our daily lives. From there I believe God can lead you better than I. I am by far still a novice at this; although the last few days and weeks have gone a long way in breaking down my desires to provide for myself and allowing my Father to do what He has always wanted to do in my life: to take care of me!