Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daily Bread

The news coming out of Haiti has caused me to think again about the meaning of Jesus’ reference to daily bread. The images of the thousands of people clamoring for food, water and medical attention are stunning. When a Jesus follower in Haiti wakes up in the morning after another night in a make-shift shelter praying, “Give me today my daily bread,” their prayer has much more profound ramifications than when I say that prayer. As I write in a local coffee shop, I’m surrounded by people drinking $4 coffee drinks while I’m trying to decide whether to have a muffin or a bagel. I have lunch plans with colleagues today and my pantry and fridge are filled with at least a week’s provision of food. I have cash in my wallet, money in the bank and countless ways to access it and spend it. Do I have any business praying that portion of the Lord’s Prayer? Do I need God to provide anything for me today?

The answer is yes. I may not need his provision of food, clothing and shelter as he has already graciously provided it for me. But, I do need my daily allotment of grace to be treat people well. I need him to provide me with wisdom to make good decisions with my time and money. I need his protection from the sin that is constantly crouching at my door. I need him to give me the insight to not live selfishly but to look for ways to be encouraging and generous with all the good I have. All of these things are very important to God. He loves to provide the basics of life to his kids. He loves to give good gifts that meet our needs and equip us for life in his Kingdom. But, what if these things are small in the eyes of God compared to something he wants for us that is so much bigger?

In the life of Abraham, we encounter God being attributed names that describes his character or essence. The one that strikes me today is The God Who Provides. It occurs in the story of Abraham when he is asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Isaac is the only heir to the promise God had made to Abraham to make him into a great nation. When Isaac asks what the sacrafice will be, Abraham tells him that God will provide. Consider what God provided for Abraham. He needed it desperately. God gave a ram caught in a thicket. The ram was Isaac's subsitute. God’s provision to Abraham paints a beautiful picture of what we so desperately need for our survival, a substitute sufferer. More than our daily needs, which God loves to provide, he's given us his Son as substitute for the suffering I deserve.