Several of our now-grown children are creative in one way or another. While she denies being “crafty”, our youngest daughter, Eryka, does like to create. She started designing stuffed animals for me to make for her when she was in grade school. And over the years, she has often rummaged through my stash of fabric and other craft supplies in search of materials for one project or another that she had in mind.
Recently, she asked me to help her learn how to make felted wool animal Christmas ornaments. She wants to give them as gifts. Eryka was coming home for a weekend visit from Madison and we wanted to get started. Imagine my surprise when, in the mail that very day, we received a catalog I have never seen before, one that displays a number of felted wool animals and other items made with recycled and repurposed materials!
I immediately texted her to tell her about it: “Eye candy and ideas for us to enjoy!” (Her response was “!!!!!”) Then I started thinking about how good it was that this catalog arrived today, and Eryka would be arriving tonight. I could already imagine us with our heads bent together over the catalog, and our brains spinning deliriously with possibilities.
What good timing…But wait, I realized, this is another example of God’s Providence. Providence- God’s Provide-ence, is a word we don’t use much anymore. It seems an old-fashioned, even archaic English word; like something we might read in an 18th or 19th century piece of writing. But the concept that God provides what we need, in both big and little ways, is at least as old as the book of Genesis in the Bible. God provided a beautiful home for Adam and Eve. God provided the plans ( and the time) for Noah to build an boat so that a few humans and animals could survive a disastrous flood. One of the most famous stories of God providing what was needed just in time is found in Genesis chapter 22.
This was when God asked the very elderly Abraham to take his long-awaited, long-desired son, Isaac, to a holy mountain and offer that son up to God as a sacrifice. This is a difficult story to read and understand, and it can spark heated discussions. But the part I want you to notice is this: On the way to the mountain, Isaac pointed out (quite practically) that they had all the supplies to make a sacrifice except the actual lamb to be killed and offered to God. With no idea how this could work out except in tragedy, Abraham answered his son, “God himself will provide the lamb.”
At the very last moment, as Abraham’s hand was descending to kill his son, God’s voice stopped Abraham and pointed out a ram tangled in some nearby bushes. God had provided the lamb. Abraham, as you can imagine, was so very relieved. He named that place “Jehovah-Jireh”, or “the Lord will Provide”. And God’s Providence goes on, through the Bible and through human history. Our God is a God who Provides; not always what we want, but always what we need. New Life. Hope. Healing. Love. Family. Strength to Go On. and finally, a Resurrected LIfe.
Did Eryka and I need that catalog that arrived in the mail? No, but it is adding to the pleasure of our project dreaming together. Our God delights in providing little blessings as well as big ones. God’s Providence is scattered throughout our days, months and years of life. Are we Paying Attention?
By the time you read this, Thanksgiving will be near or just past. Think about where and when you have seen God’s Providence, God’s Providing, in your life. Where are the places and when are the times that you could name Jehovah-Jireh? I suspect you will find the list longer than you expected, or longer than you ever imagined.
Even in the hard times, God has been present, and God has been Providing for you. When you come right down to it, every good thing is pure gift, and we are living in a moveable Jehovah-Jireh zone! The letter of James (way at the back of the Bible) tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
Every good and perfect gift. Even pretty catalogs to feed our creative juices.
-Janet Blank, Faith Formation Coordinator