Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What God Provides Always Runs Out

What God provides always runs out.

It is meant to.

If it did not, there would be no place for faith.  If it did not, we would not know God as our Provider.  Moreover, if it did not – if nothing was consumed, if nothing died and, having died, was transformed into something else – the universe would be a very different place: one which lacked the conditions necessary for life.

The twenty-third Psalm tells of God’s provision, using sheep as an illustration: the shepherd provides for the sheep not through grass that never runs out, but by leading the sheep from winter pastures to summer pastures and back again, from where the grass has been consumed to a place where it has grown back.

Teaching on prayer, Jesus tells his disciples to ask their heavenly Father to provide them with their daily bread – not because God’s provision is rationed to the minimum requirement; rather, because provision does not take place in a theoretical vacuum, but in a tangible world of ever-changing circumstances ... a world in which our structures for provision (structures which God certainly uses, but is not dependent on) are swept away by floods or cut-off by personal or national debt.

I regularly hear Christians say that they need to know where the provision is going to come from – and all the more so at times of real economic hardship, where existing means of provision are running out.  But one of the consequences of provision running out is that we do not always know where provision will come from.  What we need to know is not where the provision will come from, but who the provision will come from.  Provision is ... provisional; but the Provider is consistently faithful.

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