BY: JAN ANTONSSON
SEPTEMBER 9, 2013
“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God.” (II Cor. 1:20)
“Supply of what?” you may ask. I’m not exactly sure, but I have heard the words “inexhaustible supply” several times recently, probably in response to my fretting about finances and health. Lenny’s passing has left me with the realization that my income has been cut in half. Also, while I didn’t notice it as much when he was alive, now that he’s gone, I’ve got a lot of joint pain. I KNOW that God will supply what I need, because He always has, often dramatically since we’ve been here in Missouri. So, it isn’t worrying about how I’ll cope that concerns me, but why God seems to use deprivation of all kinds to control and grow us. People who don’t have much money worry about how they’ll get by, and people who have lots of money worry about paying taxes, saving it for their old age, protecting their investments from fraud and market swings, and sadly, keeping other people from taking it from them.
Deprivation comes in all flavors. Some folks are miserable in their marriages, either because they made a bad choice, or their expectations were too high to be reached this side of Jordan. Others suffer the loss of physical or emotional health. Still others suffer from the “what if” syndrome? They appear to have it all: health, good relationships, a job they like, and/or plenty of money to deal with the vicissitudes of life, and yet, they worry about what they would do IF they should lose all or part of their blessings. I know a woman who had a large sum of money in savings, but who worried when she had to pay any expense, lest she end up poor and “on the dole,” an expression not heard much today.
Christians, of all people in the world, have an “inside track” in the blessing department, so why do we still worry about our apparent lack of something we think we can’t live without? Rather than spinning out a 30 second sound bite of psycho-babble, let me theorize that all our worries and neuroses generated by lack, are the human condition, the result of Adam’s sin.
He plunged us all into chaos when he decided that he knew what was better for himself and Eve than God did, and what could it hurt if he had a bite of the forbidden fruit? The end result of that fiasco was that he and his wife were unceremoniously tossed out of the garden of bliss, and into a world of thorns and thistles and pain in childbirth, a particularly cruel twist most women think.
The Apostle Paul said that by Adam, came death into the world. When you think about living by the sweat of your brow, toiling to grow something edible where only thorns and thistles thrived, and of course, the childbearing thing to which I will add child rearing, it’s no surprise that, buried not too deep in our unconscious minds, is the fear that there won’t be enough. If our children turn out to be rotten pukes, how will God’s promises be fulfilled? That was the Law, of course, and scripture is full of tales of miserable parenting and/or rebellious children. Rebecca and Isaac’s handling of their twin sons, Jacob and Esau, and Jacob’s favoritism toward Joseph and Benjamin come to mind.
King David failed his children utterly, with the result that Absalom paid the ultimate price for the king’s dereliction of duty. Solomon said, “Bring up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it,” but even a casual observation of his heirs shows that either his advice was full of holes, or he was a rotten father because his sons went the way of neighboring nations, whoring after idols and departing from the way Moses had instructed them.
He was the richest and wisest man the world had ever seen, but he was miserably deprived of sons who would follow God. Wouldn’t you like to ask him if money bought him happiness? He had more romance than even a sex starved man could reasonably handle, and yet the beautiful women who shared his bed led him off into idolatry. Of course, our Israeli guide Yossi suggested that Solomon’s problem was he had to deal with 1,000 mothers-in-law. Maybe so, but even this wise man, child of promise, suffered great deprivation in his family life.
Some people apparently think that money can buy happiness. However, CNN recently reported that most lottery winners are bankrupt within 5 years of winning the money they sought. Why would that be? The CNN money gurus had their theories, but the problem lies closer to the bone than mismanagement. In the DNA passed down from Adam, is the fear that there never will be enough of anything again. By the time the thorns and thistles have claimed their pound of flesh, all that is left is death. God said the reason He banned them from returning to the garden was that they might partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life in their fallen condition and live forever. Death not only became the ultimate end of man’s sorry experience, but in many cases, it was a welcome end.
All that is very depressing, so having set the stage for mankind’s journey through all manner of loss and privation, I’ll move on to what “inexhaustible supply” means to me. The ONLY thing we need in this life is Christ, which is why Paul wrote, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19) Our Father God is inexhaustible, limitless, and unconditional. All of God’s promises are “yeah” and “amen” in Christ and since we are IN Him, all of God’s promises are for us today.
Why then do we have a pauper mentality? Could it be that we are so focused on what we don’t have, and what we think we need, that we have missed the obvious? Christ in us, is our hope of glory and our ONLY means of living an overcoming life on this earth. The failure isn’t ours alone, for we can only see what God has opened our eyes to see.
Countless e-mails cross through my inbox weekly on what we need to do to get our share of wealth, health, and righteous living. If any of that could be gained by our strength alone, then Christ would not have had to die. God is the one who opens our eyes, but, as Paul said, does not do it sometimes for His own purposes.
When God appeared to Abraham, who by this time was exceedingly wealthy in this world’s goods and riches, He said, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (Gen. 15:1) Our Father is also OUR very great reward, and in Him are all things we need. Peter declared, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” (II Pet. 1:3)
Adam’s transgressions led us into the death realm, but that’s not the end of the story: “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (I Cor. 15:21-22) Christ is our “escape hatch” from death and dying, deprivation and depression. ALL men were plunged into the thorns and thistles by Adam, but praise God, ULTIMATELY, ALL men will be saved, redeemed, restored, made alive, and empowered by God to become His children!
Lenny used to say that we may learn 25% when things are going well, but when God plunges us into the thorns and thistles, the fiery trials, and deprivations of every kind, we learn 75%. Our Father uses extreme measures sometimes to burn off the dross, to show us our shallow selfishness, and to reveal His great love and compassion for all of us. In the end, He reveals His glory to us and in us.
Father, open our eyes to see You as You are that we may become like You. You continuously fill us with Life, and love and health and happiness. We lay down our efforts, our ideas, and our lives before You, Father, because only You can be to us what we continually need. We give You honor and praise and glory, now and forever. Amen.