Where Faith and Life Collide, part 2

at_the_crossroad_by_hermanne_allan_poe“So Abraham called that place, ‘The Lord Will Provide.’” Genesis 22:14

In my last post, “Where Faith and Life Collide,” I told you of my family’s upcoming move and how I was certain God was working in this change for His good purposes. I also told you that I was living in that place where my faith in God was being tested, because we needed to go to our new town to look for a place to live, with essentially no money to make it happen. Would I trust God? Would God come through for me? I promised you the rest of the story, but first I want to give you a glimpse into a wonderful facet of God’s character which is revealed in the Hebrew name: Jehovah Jirah – the Lord my Provider.

When we think of the provision of God, we think of God materializing the things we need, putting the rent money in the mail, or the food on the table, and that is very often exactly what He does. He has done so many times for me. But the name Jireh comes from the Hebrew word ra a, which has an even deeper meaning.  This is the name that an Egyptian slave-girl on the run from her cruel mistress gave to God when He found her in the desert.   She was pregnant with the child of her mistress’ husband. You may recognize her as Hagar, the slave of Sarah, and mother to Abraham’s son, Ishmael. God met her in the desert to tell her that He saw her miserable situation, and she was not alone. She gave the Lord the name Jehovah Raah – the One who sees me. The word ra a means “to see, look, realize, know” and from it we gain, not just an understanding of God who gives us what we need, but of God who provides for us because He sees us, He knows us and He give to us from the heart of a Heavenly Father who keeps a tender eye on His children. His provision is tailored to our specific need in our specific situation, and it is always good.

And this is the God who went with us to our new town. Our plans had been to leave early in the week and start our search, but our schedule had to be pushed back by a few days because my husband had injured his leg and needed a few days of rest, ice and elevation. In those days of delay, God provided the funds we needed to secure a place to live. We arrived in our new town and spent several hours the first day tracking down places we had found earlier on the internet. The more we searched, the more we realized this was not going to be an easy task. Why we thought it would be, I have no idea. The next morning we set out again, this time meeting up with my husband’s new co-worker and having him drive us around for several hours looking through neighborhoods and wondering if we would ever find anything. We did not see a single place to rent. We looked at apartments and nothing seemed right. We continued our search after parting company with our guide, and returned to our hotel exhausted and very discouraged.

As I sat at my laptop that evening, I remembered a friend recommending a website, so I checked it out and saw an ad for a place that sounded like what we were looking for. At 10 p.m. I shot off an email and crawled into bed with a whiney prayer for God to please help us. The next morning as we continued to ride around the town and scour newspapers and neighborhoods, a reply to my email came through. We immediately drove to the location and within minutes found the place that we both knew was our new home. Within the next couple of hours everything came together and our hearts sang songs of gratitude to Jehovah Jirah for providing as only He could do.

I discovered later that the ad I saw had only been placed an hour before and the place would not have been available had we come earlier in the week as we had originally planned. The ad was placed the day after we had planned to come back home. God has planned and orchestrated this entire move. He has prompted us at just the right moments, led us to the right places, and even slowed us down to make all things come together according to his timing.

There is a little piece of marble that sits on my laptop, just below these words as I type them that says “. . . relax . . . God is in control”. I know those words are true. I know because the Bible tells me they are true, and I know because my life bears out the truth of those words. God has moved in ways that only He can to guide me, provide for me, protect me, chasten me, lift me up, and set my feet on the right path. He controls my life and every circumstance.

I don’t know what you need today, but I know God is the answer. Maybe it seems small and insignificant to others – know that God sees it. It may be so huge it overwhelms you – trust that God has His eye on you and on your situation. He only asks you to believe that His love for you is as big as His ability to care and provide for you. Nothing is outside of His watchful gaze. Nothing is out of His control. No problem or need is too big for the God of the Universe. And you are not too small for Him to notice. He is Jehovah Raah – the God who sees you. He is Jehovah Jirah – the God who will meet your needs. He is in control.

Holy Father, thank you with all my heart for providing for our needs and guiding us to our new home. You are indeed the God who sees me and cares for me. You are in control of every aspect of my life. I trust you Lord. I know I am in the strongest, most capable and loving hands. Amen.

Where Faith and Life Collide

oakland-county-dangerous-intersections“Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith. Your request is granted.’” (Matthew 15:28).

Every Christian knows that God desires faith from His people. Hebrews 11:6 says that faith is necessary to please God. On six occasions the Scriptures say that Jesus commended the faith of those who came to Him in need by saying “Your faith has healed you . . .” and in the case of the woman who anointed His feet, Jesus told her “Your faith has saved you . . .” He confronted the disciples for their lack of faith and commended the Roman centurion’s faith. In fact, it seemed the Gentiles (those who were not Jews) were cited more often for their faith than His own followers were. What does it mean to have “great faith”? And how do we come to that kind of faith?

First, let me note that we are not talking about saving faith – the faith that constitutes belief in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross to save us from our sins. Saving faith recognizes our need to be cleansed of our sin and our sinful nature and turn to Jesus as the only way to be made right before God. That faith is essential before any other faith can be enacted. If you do not have a saving faith in Jesus Christ, I invite you to read my devotional Please Forgive Me and learn how you can put your faith in Him and be saved. And if you do, please let me know so that I can rejoice with you!

By definition the faith we are looking at, in the Greek has a very explicit meaning: the word pistis means “a belief or trust, with the implication that actions based on the trust may follow” (emphasis added). Faith, as Jesus and the other New Testament writers used the word, is not simply sitting around thinking theological, ethereal thoughts about God. This faith is down to earth, practical for everyday life – and powerful for the not-so-everyday stuff we face. Faith did not appear with the coming of Jesus, it is as old as – well Noah. Noah obeyed God’s command to build an Ark despite the fact that rain had never fallen on the earth up to that point. God said “it is going to rain,” and it was settled for Noah, he went to work building the boat that would save the remnant of God’s creation. Another great example of faith is Abraham, who believed God would fulfill His promises and was rewarded with a son – a son whom Abraham was prepared to sacrifice to the Lord as a demonstration of His faith and trust in God. Again Abraham’s faith was rewarded and he came to call God Jehovah Jireh – the Lord my Provider (Genesis 22:1-18).  Faith and actions go hand-in-hand, which is why James declared “I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18). Faith, as the Bible expresses it, is lived out by actions that prove our firm conviction that God can and will do what He promises to do. This kind of faith is tested and proven in the fires of life.

Which is why I am writing this post today. God is putting my faith to the test in a huge way. My husband’s employer is transferring our family to another state. This a location we have always wanted to live in and it is a step-up in his career.  The job is a tremendous opportunity for him and will be a blessing to our whole family. I say the employer is behind the transfer, but I have no doubt that God is the orchestrator of this transition. We were not looking to make a move, the Lord just brought this to us and set it in place in four days. To say we are excited is an understatement. To say I am overwhelmed is another understatement. There is so much to do and such a short time in which to do it. The packing isn’t the concern for me, I’m a military brat and I learned from my mom how to pack up my whole life and relocate on a moment’s notice. What has my stomach tied up in knots is finding – and financing – a place to live. You see, we have been a “one-paycheck-family” for more than a year as I’ve pursued a seminary degree (oh yes – I have to keep my school work up while all this goes on!), and our savings is non-existent. My husband and I have arranged to go to our new town five days from now to find a place to live and I have been scrambling this week trying to find the money we will need for this move, for deposits and moving trucks and so on. It’s not coming. And yes, before you ask, I have been praying diligently.

So here is where my faith and my life come to a collision point. If I believe God has put this into place – and I do – do I have faith that He will provide and lead us to a place to live as well? Or is His part done – He has arranged the transfer – and we are left on our own to figure out the rest? The bottom line: Do I believe God is completely faithful when He promises “Your heavenly Father knows that you need [all these things]. But seek first His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:32-34). Do I trust Him when He says “My daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask.” (Ruth 3:11)? Do I go to our new town to look for a place to live with no money in hand and no clue how or when it will come? This is the real stuff of life. Is my faith great enough to meet the challenge?   What does Jesus say? “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed . . . nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). Do I even have a mustard seed of faith?

So – I’m letting you bear witness to what can happen when we have even a little bit of faith in a faithful God. With shaking hands I am declaring that we will go to look for this place – a place I am confident God has already picked out for us – whether I have money in hand or am as empty-handed as I am today. I’m going to believe God is Jehovah Jireh – the Lord my Provider and that He will be faithful to me just as He was faithful to Abraham. I’ll report back to you in a few days. The truth is, it’s not my faith that matters here, it is God’s faithfulness – and of that I am rock-solid sure.

Holy Father – I’m counting on You. You have never let me down before and don’t expect you will now. Lead us and provide for us as only You can Lord, and I’ll shout Your faithfulness from the rooftops. Amen.