Spinach, mushroom, swiss cheese quiche; Whole Wheat Rolls, Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread and Twisted Oatmeal Bread with Cinnamon Sugar filling; Pumpkin Cranberry Walnut Bread--yummm! A physical provision for delight and health and meal time celebration.
The Clarkson family is very distinct in our family culture. We have spent so many hours in each other's company, that people have actually been able to tell that one of us is a "Clarkson" just by spending time with us when we are miles away from each other and meet someone in a grocery store.
We tend to have a similar vocabulary and world view of life. We have the same general manner of relating to people because we have spent hours and hours training our children in relationship to other people. And, not surprising, our messages are similar, we like the same books and movies and tea and pizza and and and. You see, we have become like the people we loved and invested the most time with over the years.
As I have pondered this, it is similar in relationship to God. I have realized that the more time I spend in the presence of God, the more I will take on His voice, demeanor, His words, His likeness. What I sow I will reap. But as I have been sharing this message in the past few months, many have said, "I really want to love God and be like Him, but I don't know exactly what that means or really how to do it."
Knowing God is of the greatest spiritual value--to Him.
Jeremiah 9:23-24: "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, let not a mighty man boast of His might, let not a rich man boast of His riches, but let him who boasts, boast of this: that I am the God who exercises lovingkindness and righteousness on the earth."
Our God is relational and wants us to be the closest of companions to Him--to make many memories with Him, to know all about His story, to understand just who He is and what He is like. But so many have been come to understand God through laws, fear, performance and works, that the personal-ness of Him is lost.
Consequently, one of the new books I am writing is about God's roles in scripture, to seek to make Him more real to me and others as they see Him in relationship to us. When we observe what God is like, it gives us a picture of His heart. I am gleaning so much out of this study as I work on it a wee bit every day. With personal knowledge of God, comes a legacy of faith and strong foundations. We become so familiar with His faithfulness, it gives us a firm basis on which to stand in the future course of our lives.
Now, let me divert just a little. It is God's will that we reflect Him to our children--but we cannot reflect what we do not know. However, if we seek Him, seeking will provide knowledge, familiarity, history, love and worship. Then the showing of Him to our children comes from a life of being with Him, as my children were with Clay and me and reflect us. They are really the book of our lives that people are reading.
If we are filled with the Holy Spirit and He resides in us, it has been on my mind that, if we yield to Him in the moments of our days, then our children, husband and friends will actually feel they have been in the presence of God when they have spent time with us, because we are residing in His presence moment by moment. When we walk with Him and yield our attitudes, our words, our actions, our service, then we will actually be the hands, voice and message of God, incarnate in us. What an amazing thought.
However, I do allow for it to be a process. As we mature and obey the Lord each day--when we respond to His nudging; when we pray about and apply a scripture that convicts us, each day, we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ and those in our arena will experience this more as we mature more.
So, the first role of God I have tackled, is God as a Provider.
PROVIDE means: to make available, to furnish; to supply or equip; to prepare of procure beforehand
Studying this aspect has really opened my eyes to Him in new ways. God created us to have needs so that he could provide for those needs. God made us to need food, rest, protection, purpose, love. He also gave us a body that could grow strong through exercise. A mind that would grow intelligent through use. Gifts and strengths that can only be present when used and trained.
And, God wanted us to look to Him to provide those needs. Even as I take joy in planning for my children to feel loved on their birthday and focus our traditions on building the birthday child up, I receive great pleasure when the child is blessed and responds to my preparations. So, God delights in us coming to Him and in having us see His provision and respond.
He even has provided us things just to delight us--color--the reds, golds, of fall leaves; the dark steel blue of an ocean; the bright gold of an iris, the dark green or blue or amber of eyes. He provided Adam and Eve with food--plants, fruit, vegetables, seeds, meat, fish, poultry, seasonings, all sorts of tastes. He provided them with a garden of grand design to live in. He provided them with clothing after they fell away from Him. The pillar of fire and clouds and manna. Jesus provided the crowds with fish and loaves because they were hungry. He is going to prepare a place for us--a mansion, a home in heaven, for us to live in with Him in eternity.
To understand God, means we must recognize Him as a provider.
For our children to better understand God, they will learn how to recognize Him as a provider as we provide for them--as we provide a haven for a home; comfort during illness, food for feasting and celebrating life; music for dancing and singing. And so, these tasks we have in our homes are not meaningless, but filled with His very presence when we understand that in providing needs and desires, we are acting in the image of God, and our children will read of Him and understand.
In what ways can you be a provider for your family this week. How can you provide beauty or love or comfort in the next 24 hours?
If God wants to be a generous provider to His children, what might He want you to ask Him for--that He may show you His provision? May you know and have eyes to see His provision today--even in a sunset, the stars, a gentle touch.
How can we actually grow in this likeness, though, without spending time with Him, learning to know what He is really like.
PS I know that I should give out recipes and I will do a youtube on my bread making--I promise, someday--just too much to get to everything!