Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bitter Provision

I took this celebratory picture to commemorate nearing the bottom of my last bowl of mixed Italian greens. Since a friend's garden had yielded way more than she could use, she had brought me two gallon-size baggies of them. Her family had been doing their best to make their way through them, but were not enjoying them as thoroughly as they may have hoped. I listened as she showed me which ones were which and what she had discovered about the taste of each. I joyfully accepted her gift, rejoicing in God's provision of fresh veggies for my family.

Soon thereafter I grabbed a few handfuls, washed the leaves, finely chopped them, and used them to garnish a chowder I had made for dinner. The first bite, reminiscent of dandelion greens, made me feel as though it might take me a while to use up the remainder. Boy were they bitter! Stubborn enough to keep up the fight, I determinedly ate my way through those two bags of greens over a period of about a week and a half.

I shared in my last post about my fear of God providing for me. There was no doubt in my mind that He had provided these ultra-healthy greens and I was going to eat them. But why did they have to taste so bitter??? Isn't the same thing true about so much of what is good for us in this life?

As I chomped one or two big salads each day, I pondered other things that my loving Father has provided along the way that have seemed so bitter to me. A broken childhood home. A sometimes difficult marriage. Financial insecurity. (Earthly) father hunger. Special needs parenting. Loneliness. I could not argue that, while not pleasant, these things were truly good for me in the long run. Each and every circumstance has had a way of reminding me of my need for Him and of drawing me closer to Him. I feel more and more these days that He is trying to drive home the fact that I am just not Home yet. I am never going to find the things that I long for here on earth.

I have previously mentioned that I am particularly fascinated by the way that the book of Jonah speaks of God's provision. He provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, a vine to shield him from the sun, a worm to cause the vine to wither, and a scorching east wind to cause him to feel faint. I am struck by God's wisdom in sending each thing in order to get His point across to Jonah. How skillfully He uses that which makes us uncomfortable! Our spiritual states are infinitely more important to our Lord than our comfort.

And so I press on, realizing all the while that each bitter instance of provision is part of God's plan for my life. He knows me through and through and will handily use earthly cares to work on my heart. He will sometimes provide a bit of comforting shade along the way, but will not hesitate to take it away at the exact moment that it is needed. Not only will He, at times, take away things that are comforting to me, He may then send something along the lines of the scorching wind to turn up the heat and really make me uncomfortable. It will often be during these very times that I will draw closer to the heart of God. None of us really look forward to these instances, but they are a necessary part of our sanctification.

Precious Father, You are good and Your love endures forever. Your ways are not like our ways for Yours are far superior! Thank You for giving us Jonah's story in Your Holy Word. How often I, like Jonah, want to do my own thing. I am tempted to be happy when You provide things that add to my comfort, but want to have a pity party when You send the things that are meant to teach me and drive me into Your arms. Forgive me once again for being so slow to cooperate with You in this way. Thank You for grace.

Your dearly loved daughter.