The Man in the Flood
Money is tight. I spend an extra hour at the grocery store each week; minutes of price checking every brand of every item I need accumulate to lost time in my day. Each due date for my bills is imprinted in my memory after checking and rechecking. I know my bank account balance to the cent. Budgeting still feels new to me. It's hard, but I'm learning.
My new apartment doesn't have central AC. I'm trying to keep the use of my window unit to a minimum. I sweat a lot, a physical manifestation of my anxiety. Or it feels that way at least.
Since mid-July, I have been asking God what this is supposed to teach me. For weeks, there has been silence, so I made up the teachings in my head.
"He's teaching me about his sovereignty."
"He's teaching me to trust in his provision."
These thoughts led me to the book of Matthew:
I believe these words. I know these words. I actually think about them often. Is He really just teaching me the same thing? Maybe. In my heart, though, I knew there was something else. I could feel a deeper question inside of me.
There's a joke about a man who is caught in a flood. He prays for God to save him. Someone comes by in a boat and offers to carry him to safety. The man responds, "No thanks, God will save me." He keeps praying. Soon after, a plane arrives, offering to carry him to safety. "No thanks, God will save me," he says again. As the flood waters rise, he says to God, "Why haven't you saved me?" God responds, "I sent you a boat and a plane! Why didn't you take them?"
I don't know about you, but I'm the man in the flood. I know that God is sovereign. I know that God can fix any problem in my life. But how often am I blind to the ways he does it? What is he offering me that I refuse to see because of my pride? Because of my need to provide for myself, my need to prove my independence?
On Sunday, my pastor preached about grace. Not just giving grace but also receiving it.
Receiving grace. I'm not good at it. I'm independent. I like to be able to provide for myself. When gifts are given to me, I want to reciprocate. I like for things to be even. But God doesn't work that way. I don't get to be even with him. I don't get to earn my grace through providing for myself. There's nothing for me to prove to him. He offers it; I receive it. That's it.
So for now, I'm learning to say "yes" to people's generosity, to shared apartment dinners and a friend buying me a rum and Coke at happy hour. I'm saying yes to getting the large pizza from my cousin because he knows I will eat the leftovers. And though my mind is keeping a tally of these things, I know that they are gifts I don't have to repay. Saying yes to these little things makes it a little easier to say yes to God when he continually extends his grace.