Saturday, March 10, 2012

40 Days of Virtue: The Great Provider

"She has no fear of winter for her household,
      for everyone has warm clothes."
Proverbs 31:21 

I grew up in a world of stitches! My grandmother always had a needle in hand. My mother could often be found behind the sewing machine. My older sister too! By the age of six, or maybe even before I was born, I was stitching as well.

My mother had learned from her mother how to provide for her household; and "in those days" it meant making your own clothes. It was much less expensive. More than that, it fed an inner satisfaction of having done it yourself, of having lovingly labored to provide for the needs of your children. It was also a way to stretch your budget, to do more for less. And, it fed the inner being with a creative outlet to vent worries, doubt, and fears of the future.
"How will I make ends meet?"
"Where will we squeeze enough money from the paycheck to provide for five children?"
"Will we be able to pay all our bills this month?"
"What will we do if there are unexpected financial needs?"
My grandmother, my parents, lived from paycheck to paycheck. Yet, my father always commended himself by reminding us that we "always had a roof over our heads and food on the table!" I believe that was important to him because his father died when he was very young, which forced him to drop out of school and enter the workforce when he was barely a teen. He was providing for us what no one provided for him.

My mother also. Her father deserted the family when she was just entering high school, leaving my grandmother with five children to care for on her own. She never remarried. She went solo. "Work hard" was her mission statement. She passed that on to her children and grandchildren, as well as her love for stitching and being in stitches. She laughed and chuckled as much as she stitched. My mother, too, was known for her joyous, boisterous laughter. It would warm a winter day. It was another way of releasing the doubts and fears of the future.

Are you going solo? Living from paycheck to paycheck? Fearful of the future? Wondering how you will make ends meet? Wondering how you will clothe your family and provide their needs? I've been there too! And I found hope and comfort from these words of Jesus. He reminds us in Matthew 6:25-34, that we can count on our Father God to supply our needs...
 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Today, I feel grateful that I come from a lineage of Proverbs 31 women; women who were great providers. My great-grandmother. My maternal and paternal grandmothers, single mothers each raising five children, and my mother, also raising five children, picked up the slack when my father became addicted to alcohol. In spite of all the hardships in our home, we always had food, clothing, and shelter. And, when we were worried or feeling fearful, we had inherited the perfect remedy: creative expression! More importantly, we knew The Great Provider, who is the Lord Jesus Christ.
I pray God will bless your heart and mind with peace today, knowing that He IS the Great Provider. You can trust Him.

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