Sunday, August 2, 2015

What Sort of “Provider” God Is God?

SETTING off in the car without our son, on our way out as a date, to a concert, had only one difficulty. We had left ourselves just thirty minutes to get into the city, find parking, and get ourselves seated at the venue. We were tense. My wife was checking her maps to try and get us parking, but it appeared that the closest public parking was at least 600 metres away. I would drop my wife at the venue, then do the parking and race back by foot.
We entered the city with about seventeen minutes to spare. We prayed a rather inappropriate prayer, “Lord, give us somewhere close to the venue to park.” We looked to the side streets and, sensing we were close to the venue, we eye-balled one lone parking spot on the main street. God had provided. We thanked him. We were really grateful!
But had God really found us that spot? Later that evening, after the concert, we found ourselves looking for parking again; similar situation, without the time pressure, but not wanting to walk too far — one lone spot, and again God provided.
Is our Provider God to be thought of as a provider of car parking spaces?
Or is that a bit on the glib side of Western “comfort” theology.
Jehovah Jireh is the name given by Abraham of God in Genesis 22:14: “The Lord shall provide.” The Lord provided a substitutionary sacrifice (a ram) so Isaac wasn’t needed to be sacrificed by Abraham, just as he provided each of us a substitutionary sacrifice in Jesus — so we might relate and be reconciled with the Father, even if our flesh still burns to sin. Car parking spaces are not in the same league.
But it illustrates a point. We expect God to provide us all sorts of ‘needs’, when our truest needs we hardly yearn after. How many of us pray for true transforming salvation experiences? We are usually overtaken by them.
My wife and I were desperate to get a car parking space, and it was provided to us on both occasions. We thanked God, but were these spaces provided by God; as selected for us? We could only think that if we truly felt that God wants for us the bad things we experience. We cannot contemplate such a thing.
Does God provide anything or does he provide just the big things, like our salvation? Well, when we pray, “Give us this day, our daily bread,” we pray for every need; that he who can provide, will provide. And he does, because we have experienced having our needs met in all sorts of ways before. It isn’t about the provision of car parking spaces. But it’s in the provision of patience to endure the frustration and stress when we can’t find the car parking space that God truly gives. That is more our true need!
God provides our real needs and not simply every single ‘need’. God is faithful and just and will see us through to the day of Christ, if by faith we obey, trusting his provision.
God does not save car parking spaces for us, but that is no reason not to thank him when we do find somewhere to park. We can thank God, also, when we don’t get the car parking space we want. We thank him that we have the grace to bear the disappointment graciously — there are many millions of people worse off than we are.
God is the God who provides. Let us not only sing the song, but believe its theology, which causes us to trust the Lord, because of his character and the good things he has done.

© 2015 Steve Wickham.

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