May 23, 2012

Streams and Rivers

Elijah the prophet predicted a drought that God would send as discipline for His disobedient people. Then God sent Elijah to a place of protection. This place was one that Elijah would not likely chose for himself.
Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there. (1 Kings 17:3–4)
This was not a river, but a brook. In the drought that was coming, a river might survive, but not a smaller stream. It could be running for a short time, but soon dry up, which is what happened. “And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land” (1 Kings 17:7). 

 Why would God do that? Why didn’t He put His spokesperson in a safe place where his needs would be met and he didn’t have to worry about food and drink? I can think of one reason. People who have the world’s abundance tend to pull back from living by faith. Instead of trusting God for all that they need, they begin to trust money or other things. This is what was happening in Israel, and God did not want this to happen to His prophet also.

In the early 70’s I lived on a farm with a garden and not much else. My food budget was about $7 a week which, by today’s standards, seems impossible. However, my parents put a side of beef in my freezer, and a neighbor added venison. My mom and dad did my shopping for me, but always added more than what was on the list that I gave them, like a head of lettuce or a bag of apples. I and the children ate a lot of macaroni and cheese, but we survived. God taught me during those lean years that I could depend on Him. Even though He never sent ravens, He took care of my needs one way or another.

Life is much different now. I rarely think about what money can do for me. This could be due to the fact that God has amply supplied, but is more likely from those early lessons. He taught me that I did not need to worry about the basics; He would take care of me.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me…And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:12-13, 19)
Now, as I fill trash bags with excess that is no longer needed, and boxes with things that others can use, I am even more aware of the supply of God. His generosity overwhelms me. He sent me to a brook, but that brook became a river. 

Lord, I have sometimes wanted things that I didn’t need, but I have never needed anything that You withheld. Your grace and mercy always supply all good things for Your people. Gratitude fills my heart and I rejoice in Who You are. It is not the abundance of ‘stuff’ that has blessed me, but the abundance of Your love and care, and the fact that You are a gracious and merciful God.

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