Philippians 4:19 – And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
Exodus 16:14-15 – When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. (NIV)
As I sit in a village in rural India during the last leg of my ten-month Training In Mission program (Council for World Mission), Paul's words to the Philippians gain a new depth for me. Every need is felt more intensely here, as I am out of my comfort zone. I am dependent upon strangers to provide the most basic of things: food, shelter, safety. I am dependent upon God who acts through these strangers to meet my needs.
The diet is very different here in Andhra Pradesh — a lot of rice, a lot of spice, but very little fruit. I was struggling with this, and I asked God for help. That very morning, a young woman offered to share some small green fruit with me. They were funny-looking — like hard green golf balls, and they smelled funny — like perfume. "Um, what are they?" I asked, already forgetting my prayer request. She only knew the Tamil name which didn't mean anything to me. "Um, no thank you," I said, "I don't think I like them."
A few days later, during my morning devotion time, I was reading the passage in Exodus where the Israelites turn to God to feed them. He sends manna each morning, but at first, they didn't recognize these funny-looking flakes as the answer to their hungry prayers. Like a light bulb going on, I realized that God had been quick to answer my prayer, but, like the Israelites in the desert, I had been slow to realize His bounty, because it came in an unexpected way. "Forgive me, Lord," I prayed, "I didn't recognize Your hand. I know all that I have is from You. Open my eyes, Lord, to all the goodness You've poured into my life here. I depend on You, Lord."
The fruit was long gone, accepted by others who were less sceptical. Yet, the next day, a small village girl offered me one of these strange green fruits which she had just picked from a nearby tree. I enthusiastically accepted her gift. She beamed with pride, pointing to me and telling everyone that I was eating her fruit." I smiled as I discovered that I do in fact like this strange fruit, which in English we call guava. I prayed the following prayer for myself and others:
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for not giving up on us when we fail to see Your hand at work. Thank You for Your forgiveness, for second chances. Thank You for Your provisions of all shapes and sizes. Amen.