PREPARATION, PROBLEMS AND PROVIDENCE!

When vacation time comes, we plan where we are going, what we will do, where we stay and when we will leave. We don’t plan on having any problems.

We took an RV trip this summer and we prepared for months.  We had the vehicle checked out by a mechanic who gave it a clean bill of health.  We filled the enormous tank with gas, to the happy dance of the gas station attendant.  We charged the GPS and had our campground confirmations stowed in the vehicle.  We purchased food so that the kitchen of the RV was well stocked, the refrigerator and freezer budging, and the counters laden with bread, chips, donuts, etc.  And we arranged to take two of our grandchildren with us while the other family members would join us a few days later.

In short, it was our firm intent to have fun because we had planned and we thought we were ready for anything. … God must have smiled at our childish ignorant arrogance!

RV with car
RV ready to roll with Jeep following wherever we go!

On the day of our departure, it was raining rather heavily but we were going merrily on our way down the interstate, towing the Jeep behind us, heading for Myrtle Beach. We had stopped at a rest area in North Carolina for a break from driving and a time to walk outside and stretch. 

When we began to leave the rest area, my Husband stepped on the brake: no great emergency, he just wanted to slow down a bit before getting onto the highway merge ramp.  The brake pedal went clear to the floor without breaking a sweat and, more to the point, without stopping the vehicle, but we weren’t going fast so there was no danger.   We came to a rolling stop and he pumped the brakes a bit thinking that, perhaps, they had gotten wet from the rain.

Then we slowly started off again, and while there was some stopping power, it was painfully obvious that we had a serious problem.

We limped up to the next exit ramp, which “happened” to have a Cracker Barrel with elongated RV parking spaces.  We pulled in, and came to a stop at the same time I got in contact with a 24-hour repair company I found on the ole’ Internet.  The man said that he would come to assist us as soon as he finished up the job he was currently handling.  So we waited for the expert who was going to identify and then, hopefully, solve the problem so that we could continue on to the campground 140 miles further down the road.

DSCN1810
KOA sign in South Carolina.

After couple of hours, he came in his truck with all sorts of equipment.  The jacks raised the front of the vehicle and, after looking under the RV in the very steady rain, the serviceman climbed out holding the brake line that was in two separate and distinct pieces, a situation that clearly was not good. In short, the brake fluid could not get to the brakes if the brake line was in two pieces!  His telling comment was “It is clear that ‘the Man upstairs’ was taking care of you.”

We agreed with this comment, and further noted that the Lord had certainly been gracious in preventing what could have been an incredibly horrific accident, given the propane gas and gasoline that had just been put in the vehicle’s tanks.

The serviceman exerted heroic efforts on our behalf.  He identified the problem, drove over 75 miles after calling three different places trying to find a hydraulic line that was long enough to install in the RV.  The third place he called had a line that was the right length and the store attendant agreed to stay late that Saturday night to accommodate his after-hours arrival.  Back in the parking lot, he worked until almost midnight to insure that the braking system was completely repaired and working properly.

After sleeping in Cracker Barrel’s parking lot, we got back onto the Interstate and a couple of miles down the road, long before there was any other exit, a sign informed us that there was a 7% downhill grade.  We were heading into the Green River Gorge, where the highway twisted and curved through beautiful, rugged mountains.

downhill grade sign
“Steep Grade Ahead” sign, not actual sign outside Flat Rock, N.C. but same information that we saw after getting back on interstate following the previous night’s brake repair.

Going down that long grade without working brakes would have been … bad, really, really bad.   After reading that sign and after shaking off the chills that ran down my spine thinking of the possibilities of riding that road without working brakes, I looked at my husband and said “Isn’t that just like God … perfect in His timing and provision!  Fixing a problem before we knew we really needed it!”

I should not have been surprised.  Scripture tells us that God will do this.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

In our worldview, none of this was luck.  We believe that our God knew what was going to happen and He protected us from the injury that surely would have come from driving down the steep highway without brakes in a motor home.

Our faith in God, however, is not a good luck charm nor is it a ticket to a Walmart in the sky!  God is not an indulgent grandparent that allows misbehavior because it is cute.  Indeed, we know that God does not always prevent injury, illness or even death to His own people. He has His plans and purposes above our limited understanding.  The biblical book of Job is an outstanding example of this.

What we do know and believe is that He will supply that which we need most … eternal salvation through our belief in the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  THAT is what is needful.  All the rest is temporary and fleeting.

The Providence of God surpasses any planning that I could do or even conceive of … He is the Author and Creator of all.  Praise His name for His goodness to His children.  Not just in helping with a broken brake line, but in providing His Son for our salvation, for granting us eternal life, for making us His children for all eternity.

“to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

Jude 1:25

Thank God for His wisdom and providence as you listen to a song from Truth Sings the Word, as they present Philippians 4:19 in a song entitled “My God Shall Supply”.

Father, I cannot begin to comprehend your omnipotence and omnipresence.  I believe these truths, but I cannot comprehend them.  I know You are with me each moment of the day and that nothing happens to me that is outside your plan, but when You present yourself in such a visible, incredible way, in such a minute activity for an all-powerful God, I am humbled and once again come to you, crying Abba Father.  I love You, I am in awe of You, and I praise your holy name.

NEEDS AND WANTS!

I think that we, in the Western culture, have been lured by media and peer pressure to confuse and combine Needs and Wants.   You know what I mean … we tell ourselves we neeeeed something because we want it but if we just say that “I want that!” we sound childish, immature and demanding.  So instead, we come up with adult sounding reasons to illustrate the need for the particular thing while ignoring the abject desire for it that actually began this psychological discussion with ourselves.  We have created a “nee-ant” … a combination of need and want … and we do whatever we need to do to satisfy that desire.

Recently, our needs and wants were brought into focus when did our laundry during a trip to the beach with the family.  We had a plastic garbage bag as well as two laundry baskets that were heaped full of dirty clothes. 

Laundry baskets
Two laundry baskets, now empty, but formerly loaded with dirty clothes!

The campground laundry was very busy, it being extremely hot and humid thus requiring multiple changes of clothes, etc.  So, we searched the internet and found a laundry not too far from our location. 

The building itself had seen better days, but there were multiple open washers and dryers so it was fine with me if the ceiling fan was rattling and the floor was less than sterile.  

There was an old bicycle sitting inside the laundromat, up near the front window, and there was one gentleman loading his clothes from a washing machine into the coin-operated dryer. 

Some small talk ensued, mostly about politics and sports teams, and then quite suddenly he turned and looked at us and asked “Are ya’ll Christians?”  Our statement that we were Christians prompted him to apologize for some expletives that he had used earlier.  We continued speaking.

Ultimately, he suggested which dryers worked best, noting that he came to this laundry every week, did his clothes, and then went to work his night job,.  He had a plastic box with a lid, somewhat (but not much) larger than a banker’s box, and a small sack. 

When the dryer was done, he neatly folded his clothes and put them in the box and sack.  Before he left the laundry, he offered us a roll of plastic bags in case we needed them.  He wished us well and we returned the blessing. He went to the front of the laundry and got on the bicycle, taking his box and sack with his clean clothes home.

What a comparison – two laundry baskets and a garbage bag with an air conditioned car to transport us compared to a man on a bicycle with his clean clothes for the week in a box and a sack.

Needs and wants.  Praise the Lord for the material blessings that He has bestowed upon you, including the blessings above and beyond your needs.  Don’t assume that you have accomplished all this by yourself!  But also, don’t get your needs confused with your wants!

Jesus told a parable about a rich man who had been blessed by God with many material goods, but he lacked thankfulness toward God:

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”‘ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’

Luke 12:16-20.

People resist following Christ because they don’t want to give up control of their lives, without realizing that the spiritual blessings available through Christ far outweigh the material things of this world.  This world is temporary and the treasures laid up here will be gone in the blink of an eye … life after death is eternal, non-ending, forever. 

While we should thank God for blessing materially, much more important is our thankfulness for the spiritual blessings that we have received through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 

For in him [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses …, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:9-14.  These are just some of the spiritual blessings we receive through Christ.

In recounting his conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a follower of Jesus Christ, Paul told King Agrippa:

And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.  But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles–to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.

Acts 26:15-18.

Forgiveness of sins.  Acceptance by God the Father.  Everlasting life through the life, sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Sanctification through the Holy Spirit — spiritual blessings for which we should be praising our God continually, in word, deed, countenance, and in our heart’s spiritual praise.

The end of Acts 26 says:

And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”  And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am–except for these chains.”

Acts 26:28-29.

There is no record of King Agrippa coming to know the Lord.  Don’t let that be your story … Don’t let your “nee-ants” get in the way of your life in Christ. 

 

Father, I pray that these words honor You and your Son.  I pray that your Word would be effective for your purposes, and I pray that my “nee-ants” don’t interfere with the witness and the work that You want me to do.