Do you think of yourself as a provider?
A provider for your family? A provider for your kids? For the people in your church?
Many of us do. We provide income, care, instructions, directions, teaching, and so much more for the people in your life.
But maybe you’re getting a little tired.
You can’t provide for everyone. The needs are too great.
They never stop and you’re beginning to run dry.
You need a provider.
This is what Michelle Anthony will be speaking about this morning.
God is Provider
Here’s her talk:
A little bit ago, I was in Brazil to speak to the people about spiritual formation in families. I approached the stage and it’s beautiful. They’ve gone above and beyond to prepare for me with fabric and fountains and pomp and circumstance. And all I could think is, “I better not mess this up”.
As I prepared to go onto stage, I turned to my host and asked “Where is my translator”. And to my horror, my host responded, “The Lord will provide”.
What does that mean?
Does it mean that the Lord will provide by helping me to instantly speak Portuguese? Does it mean that he will provide a translator from the crowd?
I was pushed onto stage and stood staring at 4,000 people. I waved and these 4,000 people stared back at me. After a very long and awkward silence, the leader of the organization pulled up his 21 year old son onto stage and told him to translate. As the son climbed onto the stage, he was literally trembling with fear and pleaded with me to “not use any big words because I’ve never done this before”.
I don’t know what that man said, but lives were changed. Because God provided HIMSELF to those people. Sometimes when we think of God as provider, we think only of the resulting provision as the main goal. We think of the extra money that came in unexpectedly, or the manna God sent from heaven, or the oil given to the widow. We are fixated on the provision and when we do this, we fall into two different temptations.
#1 Thinking Only of the Need
Sometimes we can’t get beyond the need. We fixate on relieving our pain and struggles, even it means going around God to do it. We can’t relate to God until the problem is relieved.
#2 Thinking Only of the Provision
We get so concerned with having our pain or need relieved that we are devastated if the provision does not occur. Why would God, who is a provider, not provide what I need? Perhaps He does provide and we are not content with the provision. Maybe the spouse God provided isn’t good enough. Or the money that we receive isn’t enough. God heals, but not completely. Do we begin to doubt God? Do we doubt his goodness?
It’s not about the provision, it’s about the provider.
I remember when my daughter was about 4 years old and it was Mother’s Day morning. Breakfast in bed was about to arrive for me. As you know, sometimes children modify recipes. My sweet girl made me some instant oatmeal….with cold water. When she came and set down my breakfast with pride, of course I ate it gladly. Because it wasn’t really about the provision. It wasn’t really about the oatmeal. It was about the provider and the heart of the one who gave me this gift.
Let’s Take a Look at John 2
Jesus is at a wedding and they have run out of wine. Sometimes we read through this passage and we fixate on the beverage. Maybe you’re from a church that refused to say “wine” in this story. There was just grape juice flowing freely at a local wedding. 🙂 Instead of looking at the provider, we focus on the provision.
But really, this story is about the confidence and authority Jesus would have had in order to perform this miracle. He didn’t taste the wine (that we know of) before he passed it off to the host. He didn’t pace with worry before attempting to fulfill this need. He spoke.
He spoke and this amazing thing happened.
We often think of this account as Jesus’ first miracle, but if you look back at John 1, you remember that Jesus was in the beginning of time, creating the world. He had been performing miracles for quite some time. It is with this authority that he comes to the wedding.
Jesus saved the day at this wedding, but he wasn’t always so popular.
Think about the time Jesus overturned the tables at the temple. That’s not very polite. And yet, Jesus was more concerned about providing truth in that moment. He wanted to return the temple to what it needed to be.
Or what about the time that Jesus fed the 5,000. Think of how exhausted those disciples must have been. Not only did they have to organize a crowd of 5,000+ people in order to feed them, they also picked up the leftovers. After this, Jesus didn’t cut them a break. He made them get into a boat to cross the lake. He was providing them a chance to grow their faith. He just demonstrated His power by feeding all these people and now Jesus provided the disciples to act on their developing faith as the storm brewed on that lake.
I bet the disciples weren’t that appreciative of this type of provision.
Do we appreciate when God provides us with opportunities to truly grow? Both as a person of character and in our faith? Or are we fixated on relieving our problems only? Do we only want God as provider if it’s going to make our lives easier?
God is provider. But He doesn’t work in the way we are expecting (or wanting!).
Fast forward to Jesus’ last days. At the Passover, Jesus gives the disciples wine and tells them that it is a beginning of a new covenant. This isn’t traditionally part of the Passover. This is wedding language. When a man wanted to marry a women in Jewish culture, he would share a cup of wine with her, asking her to drink of the new covenant. If she took the cup and drank, the couple would be engaged. They would be united forever. This is the language Jesus’ is using when He is speaking to his disciples at Passover.
When Jesus changed the water into wine, he used six huge jars filled to the brim. This was way more than what was needed. This wine flowed freely among all the people. Now, at the Passover, Jesus is saying the wine is now blood. And again, Jesus will be providing way more than what is needed. Through his blood, forgiveness will flow freely among all the people.
What an amazing provider.
As Michelle closed out her talk, she invited the crowd to take part in communion, reminded us that it’s not just communion, it’s communing with the one we love. It’s a marriage metaphor. It’s about drawing close to God and acknowledging that amazing relationship that God has provided for us.