The day was ordinary. Down the hall, I could hear the buzz of children happily playing and the hum of the washing machine busily making things clean. There was no reason to expect any hint of turmoil until I stepped in it.
Purple goo oozed between my toes and onto my pant legs. A million scenarios flashed before my mind. Then I saw it. The laundry soap container had plummeted into a dismal sea of purple.
The bottle itself had just come home from the store. And now I found myself mopping up what seemed like gallons of soap. Tears invaded and hysteria settled in my heart. There was no way to salvage the disaster and the $14 to buy a new one would be costly, to say the least. My tired hands pressed and mopped at the goo which easily made its way into the deepest crevices of the carpet. After what seemed like hours of useless pressing, I gave up. The pressures of the day mounted and I fell into a heap of despair.
Somewhere in between the brokenness and the crying out, I finally let God’s words seep through. “I’ve got this. Don’t you trust me?” I knew it was true and I knew I hadn’t been trusting Him with this purple sea of despair. But it seemed so silly. It’s just laundry soap. It really shouldn’t be such a big deal. But sometimes my lot hardly seems fair, and today was one of those days.
Left on my shelf was a not-even-full cup of laundry soap and a rather damaged vessel.
A few months passed with the broken vessel of purple doom sitting on my laundry shelf. Days would pass and laundry would pile up. I would empty the tiny cup into the machine with each new load of laundry. And somehow, every time I came back, the cup had just enough left again.
At first, I didn’t think much of it, but eventually I found myself wondering. Didn’t I empty it all? How is this cup full again? But despite my questioning, it was full again. Load after load would wash clean and somehow the cup did not grow empty.
The cup never ran out because God provided.
Not only did He provide this one little $14 need we had, He provided every need we had. Although nearly ten years have passed since that desperate day when I was a new single mom with 4 kiddos under 6, the laundry soap incident serves as a reminder of how powerful God really is and how much He cares about the little things. It’s a reminder to always be looking for His hand in our lives and to keep our hearts focused on Him instead of the circumstances that threaten to consume us.
Oh, friend, I know it’s not easy. The bills pile up and we begin to panic. I’m still the sole provider for my family and the stress to provide and DO MORE is an ever present temptation. But the feeling that I must be the one to provide is a lie. I don’t have to make this work (and neither do you)! God has committed to provide for us. There is no amount of trying on our part that is ever going to trump His ability to care for us.
This simple story is one of many times God provided for us back in the early and most financially difficult years, but it’s always been my favorite because it focuses on the promise of God’s attention to even the little details in our lives. The miracle of God’s provision isn’t always in the big things. He might not always drop a $1000 check on your doorstep , but He will always provide. Even in the seemingly small and mundane things, like laundry soap. His provision is beyond what we can imagine. Are you watching for it?
6 Ways to Help Kids See God’s Provision
Seeing God at work in our lives is vital for spiritual growth, but sometimes we can’t see it. Sometimes life doesn’t make sense and it seems like the things happening in our lives couldn’t possibly be from God. This is one of the most crucial things to help our kids with. They NEED to see God at work. Here are some practical ways to help them see His goodness through provision:
1. Teach them about the lions and the lilies.
We are always looking for God to do something HUGE in our lives, but the Bible repeatedly points out that God is a God of detail. He dresses the lilies in splendor (Luke 12:27) and feeds the ravens (Luke 12:24). Another verse I love to teach my kids is Psalm 34:10. It says the lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack NO GOOD THING. Coupled with Romans 8:28-32, these are precious promises to meditate on.
Spend time teaching your kids these verses. Draw them together and note the marvelousness of God. You can do a survey of verses on God’s provision or spend a month looking at one verse a day.
2. Teach the faithfulness of God’s character.
When we read the promises above and then look at our lives, sometimes we feel like they simply can’t be true. Once you learn the promises, we need to help our kids bridge the gap between those verses and the reality of life. This starts by knowing and understanding God’s character. Consider studying the power and goodness of God. Perhaps go through the names of God. We have a free printable designed for Easter, but you could use it anytime. (Find it in the Ultimate Holiday Printable Pack available here.) It’s a simple study of the names of God straight from Scripture.
3. Teach them to understand what God is most concerned about.
One of the most profound things I’ve ever learned about this topic is that if we are going to understand the gap between what God provides and what we think is “good” we have to understand what God’s priorities are. First and foremost, God is concerned about our heart. He is concerned about our most miserable condition: being lost, separated from Him, and condemned to hell.
When things in life don’t go the way we think would be a “good” way to go, we must know that God always focuses on His priorities (like we should). Sometimes giving us a good and perfect gift means keeping something from us so we can see our own sinful nature.
This isn’t a fallacy of Scripture, it’s a shallowness in our thinking and understanding. Helping your kids understand this is crucial for the teen years especially. Kids who see holes in their faith, doubt. Kids who doubt, walk away from the faith.
This might also be a good time for a lesson on wants vs. needs and how we are called to live content with whatever God chooses in our lives. For help with this, check out A Content Heart Bible study for kids.
4. Teach them to recount the deeds of the Lord.
One of my favorite verses about thanking God for things is one most people rarely consider: Isaiah 63:7. This verse talks about recounting the goodness of the Lord (be sure you look it up!). This is exactly what we need to be doing. First, recount suggests that it’s something we do over and over again! Second, it’s the goodness of the Lord we should recount. Often our list of things to be grateful for is very focused on material possessions, but God’s goodness is immeasurable and it’s seen in nearly everything we think, say, do, experience.
We have a free thankfulness journal and printable in the Ultimate Holidays collection here.
5. Teach them to see God in the lives of others.
This is one of my ninja parenting hacks. (Ha ha) Seriously, it’s so much more difficult to see the good or bad in our own lives, but often SUPER easy to see it in the lives of those around us. (Remember that “speck in your neighbor’s eye” verse?)
One really practical way we do this is to read about the lives of missionaries. I’ll never forget when our family read the story of George Mueller. First of all, we couldn’t put it down. But most importantly, it impacted my kids in a way I couldn’t have imagined. A few months later when I told my son we couldn’t buy a particular item at the store because it was out of budget, he said, “We need to get serious and pray like George Mueller because God always provides.”
It was cute, funny, and melted my heart all at the same time. The thing he wanted was a particular kind of meat, certainly not on the same level as George and the starving orphans who prayed for bread and milk. But that day it was clear to me that reading about those missionaries was impacting his heart and it was teaching Him to rely on God for provision, even the desires of his heart.
6. Teach them to give.
Seems backwards that giving would teach us to appreciate the provision we have, but it does. In learning what others need, we see how very much we have. In giving of what we have, we learn to cherish the things we are given. It really is that simple.
Remember that giving isn’t just about things. It’s also about giving of our talents, our time, and our love. We love to use this Random Acts of Kindness Bingo to help us think of quick and easy ways to give to others. It’s located in the free Ultimate Family Printable collection available here.