Friday, September 2, 2016

The God Who Provides

(submitted by Kerry Patton)
31So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink? ’ or ‘What will we wear? ’ 32For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:31-34
“Hey God…Why Aren’t You Taking Care of Me??”
In 1989, after completing my undergraduate studies, instead of heading straight for seminary, I left the two-church charge I was serving and moved my family to College Station, Texas.  There was a church there that had grown from 8 people to over 2,000 people in less than 10 years.  God was doing something very special there and I wanted to see what was happening.  Could I learn from what was happening there and bring it back to the churches I would serve as pastor of through the course of my ministry?  That was my goal.  To pay my family’s living expenses, I found a job working for in retail sales for Radio Shack.
“I Am Taking Care of You…Why Won’t You Trust Me?” 
On the spiritual side, moving to College Station turned out to be everything I thought it would be.  The church was vital, exploding with growth and there were opportunities to serve and learn everywhere!  Spiritually, I was soaking up everything I could.  Occupationally however, I was frustrated.  While my pay from Radio Shack did cover my expenses, I wasn’t exactly prospering.  During one pay period, business at the store had been particularly slow.  If a salesman didn’t sell enough, he or she didn’t make commission and would make only the low hourly wage.  I could not support my family with only the hourly wage.  This, the last day of that pay period, was my last chance make the commission that was necessary for me to cover my expenses at home. 
Throughout most of the day, I kept getting trapped helping someone find a battery for their watch, or taking returns of this or that while watching my coworkers ring up big sales.  I was grumbling.  As I witnessed the hours of the day ticking by, I complained to the Lord.  I NEEDED to make sales and they weren’t happening.  I was frustrated and took multiple occasions to complain to my Heavenly Father about how he wasn’t doing his part: “I have followed Your instruction in coming to this town…and for what?  So we could starve to death and lose our place of residence?  Great.  What do I do now?”  A financial crisis was brewing for my family and I had no immediate solution.
 It was now almost 9:00 p.m. - closing time for the mall, and all of its stores.  The day was essentially over and I was counting down the cash drawer to reset it for the next day of business before closing the store.  Only one other employee and I remained in the store.  Curtis, the other employee, had given up on working and had taken to watching a television there in the store.  With only a minute or two remaining before I walked to the front and locked up, a customer walked into the store.  As I was counting down the cash drawer, I called to Curtis to handle the customer’s need so I could finish what I was doing.  But the he ignored my request.  So, I apologized to the customer, ceased from counting the cash drawer and offered my assistance: “How can I help you sir?”  “Well,” said the customer, “I don’t think I need anything else.  I think I have my order figured out.”  And he handed me a piece of paper.  It was a completed purchase order. 
This man was from the Caldwell Independent School District some thirty miles away from College Station.  He had been working with his school to make a major computer purchase for one of their school campuses and had entered our store to place his order…two minutes before we closed.  As I looked at his paper work, my mouth fell open.  For the entire day, my sales had amounted to less than $100.00.  A typical day for me would be over a $1,000.00 in sales.  My eyes fell to the bottom line… This one order was for over $30,000.00 in computer sales.  Surely he had consulted my store manager with a sale this large…at which point I would ring up his sale, but receive none of the commission.  I inquired, but the man replied: “No.  I just picked up your catalog and figured out what all we needed. And the school approved the purchase…so, there it is.  I haven’t spoken to anyone.” 
The sale was mine.  I was practically speechless with surprise and joy…and ashamed of my faithlessness.  In one single sale, at the absolute last minute of my pay period, God had brought together work he had been planning for quite some time, using people that I didn’t even know, from other places altogether, to provide what I was needing in that very moment…to serve Him.  Incidentally, for that month…I was the number one sales associate for the entire Houston Region of Radio Shack.  Jehovah Jireh is our provider.  His grace is sufficient.  Praise be to God!

Father, it’s been over 25 years since these events happened.  And yet, I am still amazed at how you took care of me and my family.  I’m still embarrassed at how faithless I was in the moment of my need.  Help us we pray, to trust always in your provision, and to give you thanks for all that we have.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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