It seems as though the entire world has slowed down and hit the pause button. It can be scary, wondering when things will get back to normal, and if they even ever will. It has been lonely not being able to hang out with my kids and grandbabies, grab coffee with friends, or sit in my crowded church hugging everyone as we share greetings. But I’ve decided that, since God is in control and He knows what the outcome of all this is, I should take this extra time as a gift; a gift that I will use to listen and learn and pointedly search for things to thank Him for.
I find that there is so much to be grateful for, even in the middle of a world-wide pandemic. My flowers are still growing and the butterflies and birds are starting to return. I can still chat on the phone and FaceTime with friends and family. And I have a roof over my head and a cupboard and fridge that aren’t empty of food to eat, although perhaps with not as much food as would normally be there.
I’ve discovered, as have a lot of other folks I’ve talked to, that I find I don’t need as much as I thought I did. So long as I have enough for today, I don’t need the shelves to overflow with supplies. It’s very freeing to finally realize this! And it helps take me back to my roots – relying on God for every little thing, because the fact that everything could just disappear tomorrow is suddenly more of a reality. But so long as I have my eternity situated and my home in heaven waiting for me, I’m ok.
Maybe that’s the biggest lesson to learn; it’s not about stuff or my desire for “things,” it’s about the day-to-day miracle of a loving God so big He created the entire universe and yet so close that He knows my very thoughts and He loves me, warts and all! I don’t want to miss the miracle in that!
As I read through my Bible every day, I find so many times that even God’s chosen people got so caught up in wanting “things” that they missed out on the miracle of His provision. God produced miracle after miracle to prove that He loved this rag tag group of people. Do you ever wonder how they seemed to take God’s miracles for granted? How could the people miss out on seeing the miracles for what they were, the very hand of God working on their behalf?
For 40 years, the Israelites wandered through the wilderness. They got tired and cranky and hungry for some of the home cooked meals they used to enjoy while living as slaves in Egypt. They whined and begged for food while camping on the desert plains. There weren’t any grocery stores or quicky-marts to stop and grab something so it didn’t look very promising they were going to get their demands met any time soon.
God heard them and provided manna, a mysterious and miraculous food from heaven. God gave them food where there was none to be found! But they weren’t satisfied. They got tired of eating only manna so God provided quail for meat. They didn’t even have to work for it; God simply commanded the birds to fly right into the camp for the people to collect. Even then, they weren’t satisfied. They focused only on themselves and their desires. They completely missed the incredible miracle of how God provided for them!
Twice, Jesus fed large crowds from next to nothing. He fed 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish, and still had 12 baskets full of leftovers after everyone had had their fill. The second time, He fed 4,000 people with seven loaves and so few fish that the Bible doesn’t even give us a number, it just says a few small fish. That time there were seven baskets of leftovers.
There may have been quite a few in the crowd that kept coming back to hear Jesus because they remembered the meal that came with the great teaching. But they were missing the point. Their focus was on the wrong thing; they had witnessed the amazing miracle of thousands being fed, not once but twice, and all they saw was lunch!
In our modern world, we have these amazing things called vending machines. They’re filled with all kinds of wonderful things, some healthy and some not so much. All you have to do is decide what you want, put in the money, push the button and out pops your heart’s desire. I suppose for a non-mechanical person like myself, it could seem like a miracle that the vending machine did exactly what I wanted it to do.
But when it comes to life, God is not our personal vending machine. He is not there to simply answer every request and provide everything we ask for. There are many times that I have asked God – more like begged Him – to do something for me and His response was, “No.” In the end, I’m thankful because what God ended up providing later was way better than what I thought I needed at the moment.
If I take a step back and look at all the times in my life that things turned out for the better when they really shouldn’t have, I can see that God has been in the middle of it all, taking care of me, loving me and showing His miraculous actions still, even all these years after the Israelites and the manna and loaves and fish!
Some people can spend their entire lives being fed from the hand of God and miss the miracle in it all. God still miraculously provides for His children; we just sometimes don’t take the time to notice and be thankful for the miracle.
So what miracles am I not noticing because I’m too focused on what I get from God? Have I mistakenly thought of God as some sort of heavenly vending machine, giving me all the “things” I think I want and need? Or am I able to focus on the miraculous hand of God as He continues to provide His love and care for a world that hardly notices?