Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Teach us to Pray, part 24: Jehovah Jireh

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

Jehovah Jireh

The name of Jireh is used only once is Scripture, but it is a powerful example of the provision of God. Genesis 22 tells the account of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. God had instructed Abraham to offer his only son as a burnt offering. He headed out, Isaac carrying the wood of his own sacrifice on his back, just as Jesus would later carry His cross. Isaac asked his father where the lamb for the sacrifice was and Abraham assured him that God would provide the lamb. It was not until God stopped Abraham's hand and gave him the ram in the thicket that Abraham, as well as his son Isaac, understood the absolute truth of God's provision. Abraham offered the ram to God as a burnt offering and named the place "Jehovah Jireh", God will provide.

The problem I most often encounter with learning to know God as Jehovah Jireh is that His timetable is not the same as mine and His priorities are radically different than my own.  I don't want to wait to get the ram in the thicket until my arm is raised with a knife in hand. I much prefer to have all the provision I need for the next six months in hand, plus extra. I don't like waiting until the last minute. I want it now! God is never late, but His timing has frightened me more than once.

When I am willing to walk by faith, trusting God to provide what is needed at the time it is needed, it radically changes my life. It opens up the possibility of adventure, of following God to unexpected places and unplanned (at least for me) situations. When I am willing to allow God to provide what is needed when it is needed, taking a "risk" of obedience is not so frightening because I know God has my future, as well as my past and present, held tight in His loving hand. 

Learning to know God as Jehovah Jireh also requires a restructuring of my priorities. God's provision is ample to supply what He considers important. There is enough for me to have all the things that are needed. That is not the same as having all the things that are wanted. Following God on a walk of obedience may include some exciting times, and some very comfortable ones, but if  I want luxury, I may be sadly disappointed. There will be time for "fancy" when we arrive in heaven and walk on streets of gold. 

Learning to know God as Jehovah Jireh requires obedience to that greatest command, to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as I love myself. It has been a heartbreaking lesson to find that, although I do love my neighbor, I don't love my neighbor nearly as well as I do myself. This lesson was sharply defined recently by an effort to spend exactly as much on my neighbor (through giving above my tithe) as I spent on myself. It turned out that I much preferred to love my neighbor with my money considerably less than I love myself. If this preference is unattractive and disappointing to me, how much more so much it be to God? 

What does loving my neighbor have to do with trusting God's provision? What is given to my neighbor takes away from the storehouse... or so it seems. It is absurdly easy to forget that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He is the owner and sustainer of everything. He can handle my meager needs, and He will, but He requires obedience of me. 

Therein lies the problem. We can count on God to provide but He must be able to count on us for obedience. God's provision and our obedience go hand in hand. Remember, Abraham did not have the ram until he was at the top of the mountain and the fire was laid. It was a long, hard walk of obedience before the provision was given.

How, then, do we honor the name of Jehovah Jireh? We must allow Him to radically transform our wants, our perception of our needs, and our timetable. We must be willing to obey no matter the circumstances, and no matter where He leads. When we do, we will find that His provision is not only sufficient, but more than enough to allow us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and still pay our bills, right on time .

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.                                                                                                                   Matthew 6:33 NASB