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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The empty roll

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. 
(Philippians 4:19 NLT)

If you have ever been in the bathroom, looked over at the toilet paper holder, then suddenly come to the realization someone used the last of the white stuff long before your arrival, you know that moment of panic that what you "need" is not at hand! I can recount this one time that my youngest grandson went off to use the facilities and then he just never came back - for a long, long time. When we went to look in on him, my older grandson found him crying fitfully. When he asked why, the simple answer came to light - there wasn't enough toilet paper to finish the job and he didn't know what to do - where to look or who to ask. 

At that moment, the greatest need he had was for just a few more sheets and there were none on the roll. Needless to say, he had no clue there were three extra rolls immediately under the counter in the cabinet! He could only see what was right in front of him, not ever thinking someone would have "prepared" for this very need. We are sometimes like that in much bigger issues in life - only able to see what is right in front of us and not ever thinking the need may have already been supplied.

Our "supply" often gets overshadowed by the "need" we perceive and the "immediacy" by which our supply is at hand. We often don't "go looking" for what we have need of simply because we expected it to be where we always found it in the past. When our supply isn't immediately at hand - in the familiar places we always go to find that need met - we almost panic. Panic has a way of shutting us down to the possibilities that are just outside of those "normal" places we look, though. Panic drives us inward, counting on nothing more than we can calculate or figure out on our own. The issue with panic is that it cuts us off from the supply that has already been prepared in God's foreknowledge of what it is we would need at this very moment.

God isn't going to leave us a breadcrumb trail to our every supply, but he does give us general "patterns" by which he supplies our every need. For example, he reveals some things to us through the simplicity of his Word made alive when we open the Bible and just seek an answer therein. He also sends gentle winds to cause a change in our course just enough to point us in the right direction on occasion. When we don't get the subtle promptings, he might send bigger ones that really get our attention - like an immediate downturn in the market that affects our investments and gets us to look beyond what we are able to accomplish in our own efforts.

The first step to having a need met is to acknowledge we have the need. This is often the hardest steps because it often requires us being humble enough to ask. My grandson didn't want me to discover him sitting in need of some wiping material - he was just at that awkward age of not wanting his grandma to see him without being clothed. So, he sat in worry and anxious panic - thinking he'd never be able to figure this one out. He didn't so much mind it when his older brother came along - which is why I sent him to find out the whereabouts of my little buddy. I knew he needed something, but I didn't want to intrude unless he asked. God isn't going to "intrude" in our lives, but he often sends someone or something into it to open the door to the need being met.

We learn to look beyond our immediate needs being met when we are challenged a little to "look beyond". We can see so much here and now, but until the need becomes urgent and the door is opened for us we don't discover the bounty of what has been "laid up" for our "future need". God might just challenge us now and again with an empty roll, not because he doesn't care about our need, but to help us look beyond what has been our common "go to" to have our need met. Just sayin!