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Musing on Goodness - September 12

The last 2 weeks have been interesting in the area of provision. Let’s get a little backstory out of the way to give some context.

When I went to Pepperdine University in California for my freshman year, I came home to Jamaica with a semester’s worth of debt. I had fasted and prayed and believed for provision and it had never come to pass. In response to my disappointment, I vowed that I wouldn’t let God disappoint me in my finances again and I worked very hard to not be in want (or to see my family in want).

I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine at Pepperdine who knew about my distress with the tuition for the second semester. He described his own experience of school provision where he would pray for each semester's tuition and God would provide it for him that semester (he was in his 3rd year). He said that if God provided then it meant he was supposed to be at Pepperdine for that semester. He wasn’t sure that he was going to be at Pepperdine for the entire time but hoped that he would be. That’s how he functioned for the four years until he graduated. It was a very simple faith - too simple for me, who couldn’t imagine God making every semester like some game of chance - a game that could end in abject disappointment at any point! That was not what my friend was describing, but that’s how I interpreted it.

Provision could not be left up to “chance,” i.e, God.

I tell this story to explain how I used to imagine God - and maybe you think of Him that way too - as a distant force of chance instead of the personal, loving Father and Creator that He is (among other things).

God has mercifully and gently corrected my incorrect impression of Him. But as all lessons go, practical application is the most important part of learning.

Recently I had some financial obligations that I hadn’t been able to meet. I found myself drifting between the old ways and the new ways of doing things - a.k.a Worrying and Borrowing or Asking God and Waiting.

Flipping and Flopping

The first of these financial obligations came up and I tried ‘Asking God and Waiting.’ The next day, a friend repaid me for something that I wasn’t expecting and it was the exact amount I needed.

Another obligation came up but I reverted to ‘Worrying and Borrowing.’ I got what I needed but acquired a debt. Then 3 more obligations came up and I continued to worry and borrow and get stressed out.

The final obligation (before writing this post) came up yesterday and I once again started wrangling to find the funds for it and figured it out by adding more debt. But once the decision had been made, I turned back and asked God. He answered immediately - the fee was waived.

Then I decided that I was going to ask Him about the small debt that I'd acquired instead of waiting on Him to provide for the expenses. Last night, I got an email regarding a refund of some money that I wasn’t expecting. And it’s enough to cover the debts.

A Final Word on God as Provider

Psalm 23:1-2 says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters.”

Whenever I envisioned this verse, I always imagined sheep in rolling hills of green and massive lakes with enough water for submersion. Sheep in such idyllic scenes don’t need to follow their shepherd; they just wander around fattening themselves and then get herded in for the night.

Lately I’ve learned of another perspective, the Eastern view of shepherding. The Psalmist, who was a Jew, would have been a shepherd in a Middle Eastern desert, which have mostly barren hillsides interspersed with strips of grass and small pools of water sufficient for feeding the sheep for that day. Imagine the shepherds providing for their flock by leading them to several small spots of grass or water, always giving them just enough for that day.

The shepherd guides the flock to food and water sources that are just enough and the sheep never want for anything. They trustingly follow their shepherd and are fed, watered and kept in safety.

So that’s what I’ve been learning, and it’s been a good thing.

What good has been going on in your life?

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