A year prior to this writing, I was immersed in a lengthy learning session with God, who was doing all of the leading. In that session, He was making me even more aware of the meager thinking that I had entertained for most of my life regarding the good provision that He had planned specifically to be mine. I had picked up and was trying to personally carry the heavy responsibility for the successful outcomes of my tomorrows, in terms of whatever provisions I still had today, after realizing yesterday’s losses. It was somewhat like being on a bumpy stock market ride that one couldn’t buy or sell their way out of but only trade within. I was forever trying to hang onto, save and stretch the good things that I had in hand in order to make them “last longer,” so that they, like other good things before them that had been used up, lost or taken away, wouldn’t run out and leave me wanting a “more” that I couldn’t produce.
Only by the grace of God that was given to me in those One-on-one learning sessions did I begin to see the obvious: In depriving myself of receiving the full satisfaction from God’s good provision that He intended for me to enjoy right here and now, in order to have “leftovers” available later, I had not created the “more” that I needed to fully meet the needs of either. Holding back reserves that could have been more fully utilized to produce greater enrichment in the present only further fostered the deception that past loss had implanted concerning the necessity of trying to preserve the provision on hand.
I kept trying to do the earthly impossible: prevent a desperate later need that would require me to ask God for something that I might not get. I was operating in a “there may not always be enough to go around mentality” that was based on fear, one that doubted that I would ever be “good enough” to get all that I ever really need in life. This differs a hundred and eighty degrees from the right management of God-given provision, a management style that operates in complete trust of God by freely utilizing and distributing all that is needed in the present, according to God’s direct and specific good instruction of how best to do so.
It didn’t take long, though, for God to allow me to see the error of my thinking. Suddenly, week after week, I had one new story after another to share with family and friends about the numerous God-directed deliveries that kept coming my way. Unexpected bags and baskets full of fruit, pictures, figurines and other items just kept showing up on my doorstep or being placed in my hands, leaving me flabbergasted, to say the least. Through the generous giving of others, God kept clearly speaking to me to say “I have far more to give to you than you know. Enjoy all that you’ve been given. Don’t be afraid of running out. There is more goodness yet to come. More is always on the way.”
As I slowly began to more fully accept that knowledge as absolute Truth that applies to me personally, as well as to all others, I also began to be able to see beyond the pre-set limitations to which my low expectations of receiving good things from God had confined me. Now, a year later, God is still further opening my eyes to better yet realize more of God’s good abundance that is given to me specifically, as well as to all in general. This time, though, God is not leading me through an individual study at home alone, but through a Bible study with fifty other women participants, who together are sharing their personal knowledge and experience of God’s good abundance with one another. Through my time spent in both studies, God has utterly convinced me of the following bottom line fact:
When we keep our eyes on our own clenched hands, we can’t see God’s outstretched ones.
This Truth played out recently in a tangible way in my home when I removed all but one of the many papers containing Scripture verses and quotations that have long hung on the half-wall by my computer. Overall, the papers together presented a big picture of the many individual reminders that I had believed to be necessary to give to myself on a regular basis. But as right as my good work of hanging the papers was at the time in fulfilling perceived personal need, it was preventing me from focusing in on the one Truth about my relationship with God that God knew that I was then in most need of seeing for myself. By zeroing me in on the words that are printed on the one remaining paper, God took me straight to the heart of a very personal matter with this breathtaking statement:
“He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.” (Song of Songs 2:4)
Me… The word speaks volumes about the totality of the abundant goodness of God, not relative to the entire world, as does John 3:16, but to each individual to whom it applies. In my particular case, that person is rightly me, just as God so intended for me to see and believe when He brought the verse to my attention.
Each time that I read the verse, I see the abundance of God’s goodness to me personally. Despite my awareness that God is undoubtedly using those same words to speak similarly to a multitude of others, I am constrained by God to see only Him and me alone together in the wording. Those words reveal the intimate nature of the personal relationship that God has with me alone, for the words speak not only to me, but they are also affirmingly spoken by and about me: “He has taken me into the banquet hall.”
In those words, I am enabled by God to see my complete acceptance by Him forever, for there I am, being personally escorted in the most honoring of all possible ways to the place that has been prepared for me to feast with Him. My presence is not by chance, accident or circumstance. Nor is it due to my simply being let in. I am escorted in, for all to see and know that I truly do belong to God in Christ Jesus. And above any worldly reasoning that might yet attempt to cast a shadow of lingering doubt over the rightness of the occasion is God’s open declaration of the reason for the entire scenario: “His banner” is love.
Banners are important. Whether we realize so or not, we each operate under at least one metaphorical banner that declares our personal allegiance to someone or something. If God is not the Being for whom we are willing to fight and die, then maybe Satan outright or some false religion or idol is. Each banner that is raised apart from that of God declares a prideful self-determined independence from God for all heaven and earth to see and know. Publicly displayed, banners do as they are intended to do. In this case, they announce to the world to whom or what we belong, who or what we have chosen to be lord over us, who or what we believe can best meet our every need.
One of the Old Testament Names of God by which He revealed Himself to His people early on is Jehovah Nissi—the LORD is my Banner. The revelation came to the Israelites only after they had achieved victory over the Amalekites by means of Moses having held his hands up to God in surrendered praise of Him. The stance that Moses took and maintained with the help of family and friend openly declared to all the world that the Israelites belonged to God, that God had them covered, even in battle… and He did. (see Exodus 17)
This morning, I decided to expand my reading of verse 2:4 in Song of Songs by looking it up in Young’s Literal Translation. In doing so, I came to realize even more fully the extent of the provision that being under God’s banner covers. Literally, the verse reads this way:
“He hath brought me in unto a house of wine. And His banner over me [is] love.”
The banquet hall into which “He has brought me” is a “house of wine”… a house of effervescent banqueting wine… wine that is bubbling up with life. It is the wine of Holy Communion… the wine that celebrates the Blood of the Son that was willingly poured out to rescue me, to take me Home with Him to provide for my everlasting wellbeing, as well as for God’s ever-increasing eternal glory. It is the wine that, by its graciously generous nonstop flowing, continues ever-deepening my personal revelation of just how truly incalculably valuable I am to God and just how much He wants to yet lavish more of His abundant goodness upon me.
As this realization continues increasing within me, I am yet more awestruck by the knowledge that this same personal revelation is also occurring in uncountable others. Each and every one of us is being equally enabled by God in very specifically tailored ways to better see the abundance of His love that was poured out in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus for each one’s individual needs. The fact is that God’s good abundance is about both His ability to simultaneously “feed” (meet the needs of) every individual within a multitude of people and His willingness to do so to each and every individual heart’s content. While need is most often readily recognized as a very personal matter, God makes it known that supply is too.
Recently in the Sunday school class that my husband and I attend, reference was made to the importance of the one single lost sheep that a shepherd in a parable told by Jesus went out specifically to rescue. In that story, the shepherd remained constantly busy. The shepherd did the seeking, the finding, the carrying, the returning and the rejoicing. And what was it that the sheep did to help itself out of its predicament during all of the shepherd’s helpful actions? It did only one thing: the sheep relented. It stopped trying to go its own way and submitted itself to the shepherd’s good care. In doing so, the sheep agreed to being saved.
Whether the lost sheep had inadvertently meandered away or whether it had purposefully decided to set off on its own, the parable doesn’t say. But either way, lost is still lost, and I have no difficulty in identifying with being lost and on my own. I know the aloneness of isolation and the anxiety that it produces. We all do, whether we admit so or not, and we all, like I, have longed at some time to be rescued—saved—from the evil that lurks in this world, threatening to do us very real harm.
But I also confess that neither before nor after I was eventually “found” have I ever really understood (nor am I sure that I would ever really want to understand) the full extent of just how lost (far from living rightly with God) I was when I needed to be saved. Not only did I need to be saved from the evil that I knew to be in the world at large, but even more so did I need to be saved from my own wrong ways of thinking and acting. Despite what I then believed, I didn’t really know what was best for me, let alone best for others.
Now though, within my growing awareness of the abundance of God’s assured goodness to me in Christ Jesus, there is, also just as assuredly, a growing awareness of what a pitifully sad state of affairs I was in after having tried for so long to run my life my way. Even though “doing life” my way had a surface appearance of goodness, it lacked God’s everlasting goodness that can only be reproduced by being rightly rooted forever in the eternal life of Christ Jesus. He, in being perfectly good, only supplies the truly good.
Early this morning, words that I had once heard God speak to me in a loud, booming voice came back to mind. The volume level with which those words had been delivered prevents me from ever doubting that it was God who had personally had this to say: You’ll have it when you need it.
Those words arrived in response to a question that I had asked of God just moments earlier. Personally frustrated by a problem that I had perceived to be on my horizon, I had addressed my personal concern to God by beginning my question this way: How do you expect me to…?
For years, the grammatical difference between my question and God’s answer stymied me, for my “how” question had received an “it” answer from God. Reality is that God’s answer was so far beyond that which I was then able to internalize that only now, during this writing, am I finally beginning to hear more of the complete message that God has been in process of delivering to me ever since.
Delivering anything, especially a message, isn’t always as straightforward or as simple as it might at first seem to be. A delivery is complete only if it is received as well as given. Until then, the transaction remains unfulfilled. Although God’s words to me were clearly heard, I was only able to receive (accept) the general meaning of the words themselves that I then understood. But even though I could not yet see either beyond or deeper into the words to receive more of the abundant goodness of God that was in the message that the words were given to deliver, I did something important. Rather than discard (refuse delivery of) that which I did not understand, I held to the belief that I had more in hand than I was able to see right then.
Supply and demand has long been a hot topic of debate (a frictional sore spot) between God and mankind, causing much dissension between the two. Even in the Garden of Eden’s perfect setting, where no good thing was lacking, fear of personal lack still arose to become a separating agent between individuals and God. Mankind has always had difficulty seeing all that God’s mighty big hand freely offers and provides.
At the time when I asked the question that God answered in a very loud manner, I had no anticipation of God responding at all, let alone Him doing so in such a demonstrable way. But as it turns out, the “audible” voice itself was equally as much (if not more) of the answer that I needed to hear than were the words that the voice delivered. I now hear the message being conveyed as sounding more completely like this:
- I, God, do exist
- I hear you, and I respond to you
- I will never let you be without anything that you need
When the Israelites cried out to God during their difficulties in Egypt, God heard their cries and responded to their need by providing them with both a deliverer and a seemingly impossible deliverance. He also promised them abundant life with Him, the One True God, the One who they knew to be the Creator of all heaven and earth. As such, God certainly had the ability to provide for their every need. On top of that, the promise that God had made to them was verification that He not only could do so, but that He would.
The only thing that the Israelites needed to do in order to live in their God-given land of abundance with God was to relent: agree to truly live God’s way under His banner. History shows that when the Israelites did exactly that, they did indeed prosper supernaturally. But when they didn’t, their lives were no different than those of other people around them.
During the time when I was deluged with so many unexpected gifts that had arrived via friends by God’s direction, I could see nothing but God’s bountiful goodness to me. Though I had done not a thing to earn a single one of the items, they were all freely given, miraculously made mine by grace alone. All that I had to do to live in their abundance was to humbly receive them in thanksgiving for what they were: gifts.
That is the message that I had missed seeing in the response that God had given to my question. The precision wording of His “it” answer to my “how” question had accurately shifted focus from my inability to do something on my own (a meager works mentality) to a fact that I could not yet see for myself: my personal supernatural supply of all that I would ever need in God (a grace through faith mentality). God, in fighting the battle of my wrong thinking for me, has been and is continuing to bring me out of my meager thinking by giving me greater awareness of His good abundance to me, focusing my attention more on Him.
No one, including me, who has received Jesus as Savior need ever again “settle” in this world for the limited productivity of their own capabilities. If God can provide us with the faith to rightly trust Jesus to deliver us into His eternal life in the next world, and He has, then He can surely provide us with the faith to trust Him to deliver, one way or another, all that is needed to enrich our temporary living conditions in this one.
Our personal relationships with God the Father, through Jesus Christ the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit are God’s provision for connecting us all together, making us all one with Him and with one another. As such, we are each a link in distributing the good abundant life that is ever-existent in God alone and flows nonstop from Him. When God brings us into His Family, adopting us as sons in Christ Jesus, we are assured by the Presence of the Holy Spirit in us that we have all that we ever need. That includes opportunity to continually pass and receive whatever is being delivered by God to and through one another, making us part of His perfect supply.
Contrary to what many may think, abundant living is not so much about receiving an endless supply of acquisitions from an abundant God, who has it all. But rather, it is about having unlimited access to God Himself, who alone is the Supply that more than meets the bottom line need of every living soul.
God alone is Eternal Life: the One True Life that has Self-contained power to multiply itself by giving itself away. Under God’s banner alone does life increase in abundance without end, for God alone is unending life. Every other banner that falsely promises to duplicate God’s good abundant results always falls short, and will yet continue to fall short, as it must, for it has no way of preventing its own demise. The ability to give and receive under any banner other than that of God is limited because it itself is limited resource.
Reality is seen and believed only in Christ Jesus, the One who is so full of God’s good, overflowing abundant life that He walked back out of death more fully alive than when He entered in. Jesus alone makes possible all things, including sacrificial giving that more than fully meets every need and becomes complete supply.
So declares the banner that God raised on Calvary, the one that is forever displayed over the Cross of Jesus for the whole world to see. The banner is God’s perfect love, openly embracing all who will freely choose to get under its everlasting covering by accepting the reality of salvation in Christ Jesus. That is abundant life.
Unearned, it can only be accepted as given: continuously, as a here and now gift that forever pours out unending good blessings into an immeasurable future. The more of our current blessings that we personally see, the more that our thinking is then expanded to further open our eyes to uncountable new possibilities.
Jesus’ reality is this: ever-increasing, life-generating abundant abundance now. So is our reality… in Him.
See it? Believe it? Receive it! Rest in the abundant assurance of every word:
You’ll have it when you need it.