"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."
Isaiah 42:16 (New International Version)
The scorching Congo sun was well on its way to sinking behind the Ntsiangobo hill on the west side of our mission station as I headed down the stairs. I didn't even call my mother's name. I knew exactly where I could find her. This was a special time of day when she and I were together in the kitchen whose windows faced the setting sun. The golden twilight was still bright enough for us to see without having to light a kerosene lantern. My mother had a ritual she did everyday at this hour. She was making her own formula for my baby brother.
Jack had been born six months earlier. After several unsuccessful attempts at nursing him, she did what any mother nine hours away from the nearest hospital would do--panic. How in the world was she going to feed her baby? There were no stores that sold powdered baby formula in cans near us. The only thing that was sold in cans was KLIM, pure cow's cream that had been dehydrated. My mother never had a recipe for formula. She just made one up. Some KLIM, a little sugar, and water put in bottles that had to be sterilized on our wood stove.
Every afternoon, I would head down to watch her make her homemade recipe that she prayed would sustain my little brother's growth. We would talk and laugh or sometimes I would just watch her. I did that a lot. I adored my mother and loved to be near her any chance I could. She somehow made all of her children think that each one was her favorite, although she loved us all the same.
I have been thinking about my childhood so much these last months in which we have found our economy in such a downward spiral. We were faced with a lot of lack in Congo. We never had an abundance of material possessions. The supply of food was usually just enough, without too many frills. I remember the day my parents opened a twelve ounce bottle of Coke-a-Cola and let all six of us have a couple sips just because. We all thought we had won a trip to Disney World for the amount of wonder we had over that day.
Something has happened to me, girlfriends. I have forgotten Who sustained us all those years way out in the bush. If we had been bitten by a black mamba snake (it makes Congo its home) found in the mango trees near our house, our parents could not have gotten us to the hospital in time. If we would have fallen through the bridges our seven-ton army truck carried us over time after time, we could have all been killed. If the infected boils all of us had would have become festering wounds that caused blood poisoning, we could have become deathly ill because my parents did not always have antibiotics available to them.
I have panicked with all that is happening around me. I have let all the "what-if's" rule. They do not even exist yet, but I have been living in my mind as though they are reality. And God has said to me over and over again, "Shawn, who do you trust? Do you trust Rob's job and his 401 (k) to sustain you? Don't you remember Me? I want you to go to My Word and read Who sustains you at all times, not just in the good times, but the bad times as well.
So that's what I did.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
8 They are steadfast for ever and ever,
done in faithfulness and uprightness.
Matthew 6:31-33 (New International Version)
31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great.
Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.
My sweet sisters, our God is not one bit stressed over the situation we find ourselves in. He is the Way Maker, when there seems to be no way. What is impossible with man, is nothing to accomplish for our God. I have realized that I have been living too much of my life taking for what I have today. I love knowing that tomorrow I will be able to pay our bills. I don't even want to live under the threat that that might not be a possibility. And I have let my mind go crazy. You'd think we were on the streets by the way my mind has gone crazy with its vain imaginations.
Today, I will thank God that I have food in my pantry, a warm house to live in, and that my husband is employed. Maybe God wants me to practice daily thankfulness. I have been so well taken care of that I have had the luxury of complaining about what I don't have and getting miffed about it. I need a reminder that all that I have is not what I deserve. I cannot clutch it so tightly. Perhaps God is trying to deliver me from this familiar feeling of entitlement that I have falsely lulled myself into thinking is mine. I will praise Him for the "little" things, like a full stomach, the health of my family, and more than I deserve. What if God is asking me to rethink what "abundance" is? Abundance to Him is someone who believes that He is able to sustain them in the midst of lack, not a well-stocked pantry or a closet bursting full of clothes. He is the treasure, He is the abundance, and He has always been and always will be the Way Maker.
Jesus, save me from me! A time of lack is not to be feared because it clears my mind of what is frivolous and lets me see what is truly important. Forgive me for my sense of entitlement. I have been so blind to Your goodness. Turn my darkness into light. Lead me, Jesus, do not forsake me. You are my Sustainer, my cup, and my portion forever.