This evening I have been in the process of gathering everything I will need for three days and two nights of tent camping with my sons and grandchildren. I know we are “roughing it” but at my age, a few creature comforts are not a luxury but a necessity. I made a list but every time I think I’ve got it all, something else comes to mind and then something else and then something else, all necessities, of course.
Our lives in general seem to run the same course much of the time, in that just when we think we have all we need, something else pops up and we are obliged to add it to the list of necessities. Now I’m not talking about self-indulgent wants, but real needs that must be satisfied, for the sake of our immediate family or someone else in need. It may be a new refrigerator because the old one just died; new tires for your seven year old car, dental work your daughter, a new air conditioner in the middle of a heat wave, or just something nice for your husband or wife on their birthday. These are just a couple, from a list of many things that will pop up when you least expect them and when you can least afford them. Such is middle class life in America.
The third element in God’s formula for peace is provision. That list of unexpected needs that pop up in your household are your responsibility, but in reality, they could be provided by someone other than you, like a parent or a generous friend. The provision I’m talking about, the third element of our peace equation, can only be sourced from one person and that person is God. This is not to say that God is uninterested in your material needs, but the ones that cause us the most distress are emotional and spiritual needs. Sometimes they are triggered by a material need, but the real distress and anxiety is caused by our emotions or possibly something lacking in our spiritual life. For example, your seven year old car just died in the driveway just as you were taking your children to school in the morning. Sure you are upset at not having the car available for your use but what if there is something more behind you behaving like it was a genuine crisis and crying like a baby?
Just suppose that what you are really upset about is the fight you had with your husband this morning and the fact that it was caused by not having enough money in the checking account to pay all the bills this month. You told him, “I would have paid everything but I had to keep back enough for groceries, gas and the deposit on our daughter’s pre-school. I’m not a magician…and I can’t make something out of nothing!” Your husband replied, “I’m doing my best you know, I know a lot of guys who would give their right arm to have my job, in fact any job!” He slammed the door when he left for work and you? You piled the kids in the car to rush them off to school, trying to fight back the tears and focus on everything you have to do today; you turned the key and nothing…just the sound of your own sobbing.
Emotional needs caused by material needs, is a common everyday problem that can spiral out of control and cause a much more serious spiritual need. The reality is that what you need at times like the one described above, can only come from one person and that person is God and more specifically God in the person of the Holy Spirit. We know this because in Galatians 5:22-23, the Apostle Paul lists for us the provision that God, through the Spirit, provides for those who trust in Christ for their salvation in any and all situations. Those provisions are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. In verse 25 Paul continues saying, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Let me rephrase it in the form of a question. Do you live by the Spirit? Are you even aware, during the normal ups and downs of everyday life, that the Spirit is with you every step of the way, in every situation, both good and bad? That He is with you to be your Counselor and to guide you in the way the Father would have you to go, to help you behave in the way the Father would have you behave, and to provide the peace and comfort you so desperately need. Paul refers to this list of provisions as “fruit” and what an appropriate word picture it is. Fruit is pleasing to the eye, sweet to the taste, refreshing in every way and the most nourishing provision from the garden.
Tool # 299 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Ephesians: 6:18