“22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?'” ~ Luke 12:22-26
Jesus Christ told His disciples not to worry, but instead trust in God for all their needs. This message in reflection is a simple idea, but is so hard to do daily. The people of that age had nothing in comparison to what we have in our modern day lives and yet they found it hard to have such trust in God as we suffer the same difficulties today. God blesses us with so much wealth and good things in our lives and yet few of us really thank Him for it. I have written on this blog in the past of the difficulties of our lives and the temptations which we face with every waking breath. I have given example after example of the hardship of following this simple directive from Jesus. So in this post I want to begin sharing examples in my own life of the smallest of blessings God grants daily which prove God loves us and provides for us in the most unexpected ways.
The Oak Tree
I loved going to grandma’s house as a boy. My grandma would always have cookies ready for my two sisters and I piping hot right out of the stove when we got there. The house always smelled of joy and of happiness which filled the heart with love as soon as you walked through the front door. Grandma was so loving and kind, she always had a smile on her face, she always had something witty to say and she was filled with such energy it made it hard to leave her when it was time to go home. In short no one held a candle to my grandma, and in truth I miss her greatly every single day of my life since her passing. But on this day she told me that to get a cookie I would have to help clean the back yard. There was some tree limbs which had fallen that she wanted me to move to the brush pile so grandpa could burn them. So I did what she had asked me, but once I had finished I saw a twig laying on the ground. It was a long twig, one reminiscent of the twigs I would get swatted with by my dad on those long outings on the road when my sisters and I would fight in the back seat and cause a terrible commotion and had truly deserved the swats. At-any-rate I heard this voice in my head that told me to pick it up and skin it, play with it then it will grow. So I did exactly that, I skinned it, played with it all day, beat it against the tree drunk, concrete stairs, I even chased the poor dog around the back yard a bit with it, (never hitting the dog), and then I was told to place the twig into the flower bed my grandma had just off the back porch. Again I complied and thought nothing of it at the time, then I went in and claimed my cookies for a job well done. When it was time to go home I told grandma to water the twig. In retrospect it looked very lonely amongst the beautiful flowers of the flowerbed, and in truth I didn’t think my grandma would comply with my request. But then seven days later my grandma called the house excited. She had asked my mother to bring me to her house because she had something to show me. So my mother and father packed all of us kids in the car and we drove to grandma’s house. The car ride was filled with thoughts about why grandma had wanted us to visit as excitement began to claim a hold over everyone as grandma had been quite vague about her request. When the car stopped in the driveway of grandma’s house I burst from the car and ran all the way into her house. Grandma smiled with excitement and said to me, “Come Brian! Come and see your twig!” She took me by the hand and off we went at quite a pace to the back door with the rest of the family in tow. We cleared the back door with anticipation building with each pound of my heart until we got to the flowerbed. I did not know what I would find, but there amongst the beautiful flowers was there the twig with one little branch that had grown from a top of it and at the end of the tiny branch was the smallest little leaf I think I have ever seen. Grandma smiled and said, “Today is green thumb day at the Stark house!” I looked at grandma in amazement and just stood there, in shock. Then I remembered I had done exactly as I had been told to do by that little voice in my head. So I looked at grandma not wanting her to be saddened by my revelation, but I had to tell the truth. So I sheepishly looked up at her and said, “Grandma I don’t want you to be mad at me but God told me to do the things I did to this twig, so its not me who has the green thumb.” She smiled and said, “Well you listened and thats all I need to know. Tomorrow I am going to need your help planting more flowers in the other flowerbeds around the yard. Do you think you can help me with that?” I smiled and said, “Yes grandma, I can help.” I got to spend that night, and I fell asleep seeing the hand of God in action, taking care of the smallest most insignificant life in our world. God loves everything and upon that day I was convinced in God and in His power. The twig grew and grew until it was to large for the flowerbed. It became so large my dad dug it up and then replanted it in the front yard of our house in Oak Grove, Missouri. To my knowledge it became the largest tree in the neighborhood and is still there to this day.
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” ~Luke 12:27-31
When I was thirteen I had a BB gun and I would go to grandmas farm and shoot at the sparrows. One day I hit one by accident and then I heard a voice in my head that told me to take the bird and slap the ground next to it and call it back to me. So out of horror of what I had done, I took its lifeless body to the concrete patio behind the house and laid it down carefully. I looked up at the sky and cried out to God, begging Him to restore it to life. I then beat the ground next to the dead sparrow three times and it began to flutter with life. I placed my hand upon it and could feel its tiny heart beating. I then removed the BB from its throat and suddenly it sprang up from the patio and took flight. I ran after it in disbelief but also in relief as I saw it land in the tree by the front drive way. It chirped at me from its vantage point then took flight again to where I do not know. It was in that moment I believed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in all the miracles he had performed while here on Earth. If God cared enough to give life to a sparrow then He loves me even more to give me ever lasting life in heaven with Him.
“8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’ 10 Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” ~ John 6:8-13
No Food To Eat
Thanksgiving 2007 I was standing in the line at the supermarket with my daughter licking her chops at the selection of food we were getting ready to purchase for our Thanksgiving dinner. One big turkey, ham, potatoes, salad, raisin bread, and a pumpkin pie. This is what my daughter did not know about the food we where buying; I had run out of money several days before paying bills, and had nothing left over for the special dinner upon her visitation that day. I didn’t want to burden her or her mother by telling them I had no money for the dinner. I sat in my house pining away thinking of ways I could get something nice or make something non-traditional when I looked in the paper. I saw a coupon for a free Thanksgiving meal and in disbelief I cut it out. I called the store which was offering the coupon and asked if this was true, was it really free. The lady on the other end of the phone laughed at my disbelief and said yes; she also told me that I would need to bring in the coupon with a photo id. I remember asking why this dinner was being offered, and the lady said because it is our way of giving back to the community on such a wonderful holiday as Thanksgiving. Kiddingly I asked her if they where going to do it again for Christmas and with that I was politely told not to push my luck. So that day with no food to eat I picked my daughter up and we went to the store. We collected all the things the coupon covered and made our way to the register. Truth be told my heart was in my mouth and I prayed all the way to the line as I did not want to be embarrassed in front of my daughter on Thanksgiving. But much to my delight the register totaled zero after the coupon was scanned. My daughter thought it was funny they asked for an id, but I told her they always do, thats when she was young and impressionable. Upon getting home we took the turkey and it needed to be cleaned, something I had never done, and so I called my mom who gave me blow by blow instructions of how to do it. So instead of me putting my hand up the rear-end of the turkey I had my daughter do it, and to this day she never has forgiven me for having her to do that but her facial expression was funny. Together we cooked the turkey and ate like Kings and before we took a bight we thanked God for His kindness. In my silent prayer I thanked God for showing me the coupon, for feeding me and my daughter when we had no foods to eat.
“33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” ~ Matthew 6:33
In these examples God’s love and grace was handed down to me in the simplest most unexpected ways. He knows my needs and I open completely up to Him. God has never let me down, He has always made it possible for me to survive, and in those moments that are out side my control I give it to Him. I give the Lord the praise He is due, I give Him credit for the miracles in my life, and without God I personally would be lost. I feel these things represent every man, women, and child if only we look at the small, unexpected miracles in our life. God grants to us so much we take for granted, He supplies every fascist of every need we have in our life, and He alone takes care of every detail no matter how big or small. But it is my personal belief he loves doing the unexpected things like giving renewed life to a dead twig, breathing life into an injured sparrow, and in feeding His sons and daughters in their hour of need. God can be found in everything, in all areas of our life, and He makes the excuse to work a miracle to prove His love for you each and every day of your life if only you take time to look for His mark on your heart.
I truly want to hear form all of you who read Listening Faithfully with all your stories of all the wonderful miracles God has done for you. I also want to extend a warm Thanksgiving wish and pray that you are spending this special day with all those whom you love.