Friday, August 6, 2010

All Grace Abounding - Part 2

It's been a life long habit to condemn myself for things I didn't do and even to apologize when someone points out my (perceived) shortcomings. It's only later that I realize, "Hey, wait a minute! I didn't do it! I had nothing to apologize for."

After writing my last post it slowly dawned on me that the reasons I am in debt have more to do with necessity than with frivolity. I'm making payments on a decent car I bought a couple of years ago to get me safely from Vancouver to the Fraser Valley and back a couple of days a week while I was ministering to women in the federal and provincial jails. The second year I had the car I had to spend $4,000 in car repairs. Then I made two trips to Ontario, six months apart, to be with my mother who was sick and who passed away during my second trip. And over the past few months I've often used my credit cards to buy groceries as my income dropped to less than half what it used to be. (Thankfully I started a job this weekend which will boost my income.)

Along the way I made a few frivolous purchases, music from iTunes and the occasional dinner out at a restaurant for my family members, but most of my debt load is not a result of frivolity. When I wrestle with whether or not I need an iPhone or some other electronic gadget that I feel I can't live without, I take it to God. And when I do, He cuts through the deception and shows me the truth. And, occasionally, after I've surrendered the desire - or the need - to Him, He gives me what I want. I had an iTouch given to me a few months ago by a friend who upgraded to an iPhone. I was so surprised! But it reminded me that God not only gives us what we need, but sometimes he even gives us what we want.

The dilemma in all of this for me is still the same: trust in God. If God is faithful to provide for my needs then why was the money not there when the need presented itself. If I'd waited on Him to provide for my airplane ticket home, would I have got there in time to spend time with my mom before she passed? I know, the answer is yes because I believe God wanted that for me, and also for my mom. I was the only person who could share the message of His love through the Cross of Christ with her.

More verses from the book of James come to mind. James 4:2 says, "You do not have, because you do not ask." I did ask, but maybe I didn't wait long enough. But probably, I didn't trust God to provide, or to get me there in time. And so I panicked and took matters into my own hands, charging ahead instead of waiting for Him to provide. Previous to the verse I quoted in my last post about being double minded, Paul writes, "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord."

It's not that God withholds His blessings and provision out of spite or retribution - He loves to give good gifts to His children. It's just that we need to pray for what we need and want and then release that need or want into His hands. As long as we keep hanging onto it and trying to take care of our own needs, He will let us try, just as a gentle, loving Father would.

A very wise friend and dear brother in Christ who passed away several years ago once told me of an image the Lord had given Him to help him to let go and let God. God showed my friend a father and son on a beach trying to fly a kite. The little boy was independent and maybe a little stubborn too, and when his kite's string became entangled, he tried to fix it himself while holding onto the kite at the same time. The father came alongside the boy, ready to take the tangled mess of string from him and make it smooth and functional again, but the boy continued to struggle with it on his own until the string became hopelessly entangled. When he finally gave up and let go, reluctantly putting the knotted mass in the hands of his father, a miracle occurred. The string was restored to order and the boy was able to use it once again.

I miss my wise friend. He had such a gentle way of pointing me back to God. But my Father in Heaven is gentle and wise too, and He is waiting for me to give Him my tangled ball of string so that I can fly my kite freely and without any hassles.

God, You are  my loving Father, and I release to You now all of the balls of string that I have been picking at and worrying about in the past few years. Please take them from me. I trust that You will restore them and return them to me transformed by Your miracle working power. Make me free to be and to do all that You would have me be and do. Help me to remember that it pleases You to give me the Kingdom. I ask it all in Jesus' Name.

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