Have you ever heard me mention the phrase “God’s math?” Usually, in math problems, if one amount is taken from, subtracted from, another amount, the remainder is less than the original figure. However, in God’s kingdom math seems to work differently.
This week eight members of St. John are going to the village of Eek to conduct Vacation Bible School for the children of this Southwest Alaska community. It takes a lot of effort, a lot of giving. People give a week of their time to travel and serve. There are some financial costs, including the price of airline tickets. The congregation of St. John gives through offerings to support supplies. Those participating also give of their faith and their love. The effort can seem draining. You might think with all this giving, people would be totally emptied and lacking in resources at the end of the effort.
However, in God’s math, seemingly defying reason, instead of being drained of resources and faith, at the end of this effort those who give seem to have gained. Most of this year’s group going to Eek also went last year to conduct VBS. We had fewer people and fewer resources in 2018. But, we went trusting God to provide, and amazingly, God provided . . . AGAIN. When we returned we had all grown through this experience of trusting our Lord and giving of ourselves.
Actually, this is what God promises His people. When we trust Him, the Lord provides. Listen to what God inspired Paul to write to the Corinthians about giving. “8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:8-10) When God calls us to do His work, HE provides the resources needed for that work.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to Christians. Our whole relationship with God is a relationship of receiving the gifts of our Lord. Listen to God’s word from Romans 8:32. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Time and again God promises to provide for His children, especially as they do the work He called us to do.
Do you struggle to trust God to provide? The Lord knows that we struggle with faith. So, Jesus told many parables and taught many lessons to teach the lesson of God’s provision. Consider Jesus teaching in The Sermon on the Mount, about how God provides for His people. Jesus tells the people of His time, if God provides for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, He will also provide for you. So, Jesus concludes “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
And, it is not just the Eek VBS team that have this experience of God’s math. Time and again I hear people tell me of how they gave of themselves to serve God and others, and how they grew. I hear this statement frequently from our Stephen Ministers. But others also share stories with me of God’s providing love. After all, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” However, even though God promises to provide, people are surprised when God does supply what we need.
I confess that perhaps I am writing this devotion as much for myself as for others. My wife and I have planned for years to retire now. But now that retirement is close, I admit I have a lot of second thoughts. In ways, I am afraid. I love the work I do as pastor. And, our income will be less. I need to remember the lesson of God’s math.
Have you seen God provide in your life? Then you have experienced God’s math. When we give, God provides. God especially provides all that we need in His Son, Jesus.