Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Time of Waiting And Seeking

"Now the Philistines had come and raided the Valley of Rephaim; 10 so David inquired of God: "Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?"
The LORD answered him, "Go, I will hand them over to you."

11 So David and his men went up to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, "As waters break out, God has broken out against my enemies by my hand." So that place was called Baal Perazim. 12 The Philistines had abandoned their gods there, and David gave orders to burn them in the fire.

13 Once more the Philistines raided the valley; 14 so David inquired of God again, and God answered him, "Do not go straight up, but circle around them and attack them in front of the balsam trees. 15 As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move out to battle, because that will mean God has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army." 16 So David did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army, all the way from Gibeon to Gezer." 1 Chronicles 14:9-16

Yesterday when I sat down for my Bible reading time, I really didn't have any particular book of the Bible in mind. I usually do lately, so it was odd to sit there with my Bible and not have a thought of where to turn. So I sat there for a minute and saw some pictures that I had shoved into my Bible to bring home on Sunday. I pulled them out, flipped open to where they were, and started reading. I found such encouragement and direction from reading these verse about David.

I love reading about David. The Bible says that he was a man after God's own heart, so you know that when you're reading about him, you should pay attention, and see if there is anything hidden away in there for you to know. These particular verses show me so clearly that when it was time to make a major decision, David sought God's direction. Right there in verse 10, the Philistine's were before them, and instead of just marching forward and attacking David turned to God and asked God what was up. Should he attack? Would God let David win? God told him to go ahead, he would win. So he did.

And then a short while later, they come upon more Philistines. Now, human nature says, hey, we already beat them once we can do it again- but what did David do? Instead of just relying on himself, he stopped and asked God again what he should do. What is especially interesting to note here is that God does say go ahead and attack- but he wanted David to do it differently. He gave David a different way to attack, and once again they were victorious.

This is completely spot on with where we are right now.

We are no strangers to Andy being unemployed and not working. The first few years that he had his lay-off time, we really struggled. But last year I think we had finally figured things out. Yes, things were tight, but we knew what we were doing. We knew what we had to do to not spend, and we had saved accordingly. The not spending was the tough part, because for years if we had money, we spent it. Even when we knew we had bills to pay- Andy would do a tree job and bring in an unexpected $400, instead of using that to put towards a bill or expense, we would go out. We'd take the kids out to dinner, go to Toys R Us and buy them something, maybe go to the mall, pick up a few things we "needed" and then we'd go home having spent most of that money. I am so, so thankful that God has broken us of the need to have it bug. He totally proved to us last year that He would provide for ALL our needs.

And what do I mean by all our needs? I literally mean them all. He raised up friends to randomly drop off gallons of milk- just when we'd run out. He raised up other people to give us grocery gift cards or gas gift cards just when we needed them the most. He even raised people up to give us clothing for our children. In fact, I would go so far as to say that we received an abundance of clothing for our children when I decided to trust in God's provision. When I would be tempted to go to a store because there was a sale, I would just remember all these things that God had already provided for us, and I knew that if we needed it- He would provide it. In the case of a sale, I really had to come to the point where I was thinking that if God meant for me to shop that sale and get some bargains, then He was going to provide a gift card to go do the shopping. No gift card showed up, so I didn't shop.

So for us, last year's unemployment time was an exercise id doing without. We've become very good at it, and even the kids are getting into it. They totally understand what is going on, and instead of asking us for all the things they think they want, they always preface what they are about to say by "someday when we have extra money..." I love it. They understand that when we walk into a grocery store they can't ask for extra stuff because I have every nickle accounted for. And yet this year, there is something different. Something very different, and that's where the verses in the Bible apply.

We know how to do unemployment. We know which bills we can let slide for a little while, and which ones need to be paid. And we know how to go weeks at a time without grocery shopping. But this year, we have very clearly felt that this year is not like last year, and that we need to seek God for direction. David knew how to attack- and he could have attacked that second time, and maybe he would have been successful. But he chose to seek God's direction, and as a result, God went before him and helped David completely obliterate his foes. He wasn't just successful- he wiped them out! In the exact same way, we are waiting and seeking God as to what our direction should be during this time off.

And so far, the one clear direction we have had is that we are not to be squirrels. Last year and the year before, we were squirrels. We had our harvest carefully hidden away to be brought out when it was needed. We had our savings cushion, to be tapped as absolutely necessary. We had our pantry stocked with groceries. This year we don't have any of those things- so we really are trusting in His provision. But more importantly, we have been told that we are to continue sharing what we do have. We are still taking groceries to the food pantry, and when we hear of a family who is in need- we do what we can to help them. Sometimes that is something as basic as baking up a loaf of bread and giving that to them with a jar of jam. But as we've been seeking God's direction for this lay off time, the one resounding answer is to not be that squirrel, hoarding up its nuts for winter. We are to share our nuts.

The result of that is found right here in 1 Chronicles- when we follow God's directions, He will go before us and take care of the enemies waiting to devour us.

"As surely as the LORD your God lives," she replied, "I don't have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die."

13 Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.' "

15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah. " 1 Kings 17:12-16

For when we take care of God's children, He will take care of us. I don't have to worry at all about anything we might need- because God will take care of us.

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