God’s Fridge

God’s Fridge

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”    Isaiah 30:15

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him.”     I John 5:14-15

                The above verses have recently been sandwiched together on my ring of memory verses.  As I added I John 5:14-15 to my collection (due to its use of whatever…my “Word of the Year”), I realized it needed to be placed right behind Isaiah 30:15, since they both shared the same filling.  In Isaiah, I’m told that my confidence will be my strength; in I John, I’m told that my confidence will be my stronghold.  This confidence gained as I wait on God is to be confidence garnered as I pray to God.  I relish these verses on confidence.  I read them; I memorize them; I stand upon them…and then…I fall off of them.  I do fall quite confidently, however, but I don’t think that’s what God had in mind!  How am I to have such a confidence that I remain quiet in places of want yet questioning (petitioning) in places of need?  Oh, that I may learn to hush up and be heard!

As I often do when something evades me, I search for a mental picture to capture and harness the concept; something simple, so I can grasp it; something personal, so I can relate to it.  That’s how I came to see confidence in a whole new way because that’s when I came upon God’s pantry…and His refrigerator.  Here’s the hop, skip, and jump that landed me in God’s kitchen.  First, I hopped on the idea that confidence is like going to the pantry and taking out a snack…one I know is already there, so all I have to do is go get it.  Then, I skipped to the thought of someone looking at what I was eating and asking where in the world I found such a snack.  Finally, I jumped to the conclusion that, unless one knows what’s in the pantry, he doesn’t know what to ask for much less what is available to him.

Does that sound odd?  Well, maybe at first, but I know you can relate to this, especially if you are the one who does the grocery shopping and/or cooking in your house.  Have you ever gotten hungry and fixed yourself a snack only to have another family member look at you in shocked amazement?  What are you eating? Where did it come from?  Why didn’t you let him know such delicacies were available?  Sound familiar?  If so, then so too will this response:  I’m eating peanut butter and crackers.  They came from the kitchen cabinets, where our peanut butter and crackers reside.  You too can find such treasures if you open up the cabinet doors…and look inside! 

      Don’t we all do this from time to time?  We forget what’s right under our noses because we lose our in-scent-ive; we stop opening cabinet doors and lethargically wait for something to, quite literally, walk right by us!  And, not only do we fail to look inside the cabinets, but we also fail to look inside the fridge.  We forget about the leftovers from recent meals; leftovers that often times are tastier on the second day than on the first.  Not only do we suffer from such memory loss when it comes to what’s shelved in our kitchens, but we fail to remember what’s kept in God’s storehouse as well.   Not only does God have a pantry stocked with present promises, but He also has a refrigerator stuffed with past preparations.  This is where He keeps the leftovers from previous banquets.  Containers filled with condensed grace, cultured mercies, and congealed blessings.  There they are, just waiting to be re-dished, reheated, and reserved.  But, all too often, we fail to rummage through the fridge in much the same way that we fail to riffle through the pantry.  Instead, we wait until someone walks by with a tasty treat, and then we remember, and then we wish we had it too; but we have not…because we asked (and sought) not.  (James 4:3)

When I think about confidence and how it is to look, I imagine that it manifests as an assurance of what is to come; as something that I no longer hope I’ll get, but know I will receive.  It’s knowing that something is stocked in the pantry or sealed in the fridge and, since I live in the house in which it is stored, I have access to it.   All I have to do is seek it, find it, and partake of it!  As the one who stocks the cabinets and fridge in my home, I know that what is placed upon the shelves is put there for the use, and fulfillment, of all who live within the house.  The products are not meant to be kept behind “closed doors”.  I think God has the same intent.  I think that what He stocks within His cabinets (His Word) and within His refrigerator (His works) is meant for our fulfillment, and ultimately for our confidence, as well.  If this were not so why would He invite us to look inside His storage space?  For He says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you,” (Matthew 7:7).  And, again He says in James 4:3, “You have not because you ask not.  Ask and you will receive, that your joy (and spiritual stomachs) may be full.”   What God has stored in His Word is no more hidden from us than that which is stored in our kitchen cabinets is hidden from those who live within our house.  The problem lies not in the availability or accessibility of the provisions but in the assertiveness of the pursuer.  Do we rummage through God’s promises on a daily basis, knowing His pantry is stocked with them and that they are there for our taking?  Do we open doors and drawers to see all that is available?  Do we open wide the refrigerator doors and pull out containers filled with riches we have already tasted?  Or do we stay out of the storehouse and instead stare incredulously at those who pass by with dishes and delicacies, wondering where they got them and why we didn’t know they were there?  Wondering why they seem so assured of what they now hold…so confident of what they will yet find and receive?

Now do you understand why I say our confidence lies in knowing what is in God’s pantry or fridge?  God wants to give us whatever we ask if it’s in accordance with His will….if it’s stocked in His cabinet or stored in His fridge.  Upon this promise we have His word because within His word we have this promise.  “Until now, you have asked nothing in My name.  Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24).The rub then, lies not in passively waiting for God’s provisions to become available or accessible to us but in passionately pursuing those things which God has already stocked and stored for our benefit…for our confidence.  “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything, according to His will, He hears us. And, if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him.”

So how do I obtain confidence?  How is my joy “made full”?  How do I obtain the bowls of bounty God has for me and abstain from becoming like those who stand empty-handed and wide-eyed, wondering where such treasures were found?  I do so by going to the storehouse every day; by pilfering through the cabinets, drawers, and bins; by reexamining all the containers in the fridge…even if it means taking off the lid to peer inside because, I am ashamed to admit, I often forget that which I have formerly feasted upon.  And, because I know what God has in His pantry and fridge, I can confidently ask for whatever is stored there.  In this is my confidence; in this is my quietness; in this is my strength.

Happy rummaging and Bon appétit!        Oh taste and see that the Lord is good




Painful Preparations

Painful Preparations

“Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary; pure and holy, tried and true.”

Preparations.  I do not like them.  I like what they lead to, but I find myself wanting to rush through them to get to the “fun stuff”.  I like it when company arrives and the house is welcoming and the scent of prepared food is wafting through the air.  I like it when walls are transformed by a fresh coat of paint.  I like it when a closet door is opened and its contents don’t fall out but are neatly arranged on orderly shelves.  I like that part, but the cleaning and cooking prior to the arrival of guests, the spackling and sanding that precedes painting, and the pulling out and sorting of closeted things is not gratifying.  I’d rather just jump right to the enjoyable part without having to pass through the valley of preparations.

Last week I was painting our patio furniture and I was reminded of my dislike for preparations.  It took longer to prepare each piece than it did to paint all of them.  The sanding and taping off was frustrating and, at one point, I wondered if it would really look that bad if I just spray painted the whole chair, mesh seating and all.  I contemplated this long enough to visualize the sprayed chairs, complete with the eventual cracking off of paint and the inescapable sticking of peeled paint to articles of clothing.  It was enough to cause me to persevere with the paper and tape and continue the arduous task of separating the painted areas from the non-painted ones.  That’s when I started thinking about how much I didn’t like preparations and, I wondered, did God ever feel the same way?  Did God ever wish He could skip over the preparation process and go straight to the transformation?  When it comes to working on me, I bet He does!

When I was young, I burned my leg on a piece of wire fence which was close to a fire.  As a result, some ashes were embedded in my leg and my Mom thought they should come out.  She tried her best to get them out, but being a less than cooperative child, her efforts were curtailed.  For some reason, she thought I would be more complaisant with a doctor, so she took me to our family physician and, to her disgrace and his dismay, I behaved no differently.  I flailed and screamed and pitched such a fit that the doctor finally said, “I don’t think the ashes will hurt her, but they will leave a scar.”  We left with Mom’s attitude undone but my ashes intact.  I think about that incident because, spiritually, I think I act in much the same manner when God attempts to prepare me for what He knows needs to be done.

A verse in Scripture that has been especially meaningful to me lately is Isaiah 30:15; here the prophet writes, “In returning and rest, you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”  I underlined the words quietness and confidence in my Bible.  I want to be that way when God works on me; I want to be still and allow Him to do whatever preparations are necessary for the work He is about to do.  I want to have an abiding and abounding confidence, trusting that God knows exactly what He is doing.  I want to be the one who doesn’t flinch, who doesn’t fight, who doesn’t flee from the sanding, the sorting, or the stripping off that precedes a transformation.  I want to be this way, but in my spirit I am too often still like that child who fought off the doctor and who, incorrectly, thought she’d won the battle.  (Yes, the ashes did leave a scar, but I pridefully carried them as a badge of victory.  Silly child!)

As I thought more about preparations and my adversity for them in spite of my need of them, I thought about the preparations Jesus made.  He sanded on the disciples for three years as He prepared them for their future role in the spreading of the gospel.  He pulled out rusty beliefs and filled the resulting holes with doctrinal putty.  He shown His light on legalistic walls so that imperfections would become evident and the caulk of grace could be applied.  He scraped and taped, then He draped and reshaped until “all things had become new” (I Corinthians 5:17).  And, when the time came for Him to return to His Father, Jesus spoke these words to the disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.”  (John 14:2-3).  Even in His leaving, the need for preparations was made clear.  Jesus had completed His work on earth, having prepared the path for believers to follow, and now it was time for Him to go and make preparations for those who would follow that path.

Knowing how tedious the preparation process can be makes me even more grateful to my Lord for His willingness to prepare me for my arrival to His home and to prepare His home for my arrival.  I can’t quite wrap my head around this.  I tire of taping and sanding, but my Lord never tires of tending and mending me.  He alone knows what the finished product will look like and, in His sovereignty, knows the necessity of the prep work.  How thankful I need to become of His loving touch, even when it peels away old layers, even when it leaves me patched and spotty, for it is then that I am that much closer to the transformation that is to come.  Soon He will recover me; soon He will make all things new; soon He will complete that which He has begun; soon I will look more like Him and less like me.

So now, in light of God’s practice of preparation and of my great need for it, I will try to look at the preparation process in a more positive light.  And when I feel the spiritual scraping and sanding begin again, I pray that my response will be as follows…

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary,

Pure and holy, tried and true.

With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living,

Sanctuary for You!