The way He provides

(Sculpture: “Thinking About You” by Mischeck Makaza)

It still makes me cry.

We had just finished a long bike-ride. Dad was treating us all to ice-cream. Having long finished my water, I asked for something to drink as well, expressing regret that I had left my money at home. He gladly gave. Later I tried to pay him back. His words made me cry: “I wanted to give it to you.” His words, and the realization that I had spoiled the enjoyment of the gift for both of us by trying to pay him back. (Sorry, Dad!)

Maybe it’s fresh in my mind today because I’ve been reading Ephesians 5. In the picture in verse 29, someone “feeds” and “cares for” his own body. When fear overcomes faith, even this simple translation provides some comfort.  Without a license to practice medicine, what will happen to me if my health improves and I lose my disability insurance? As part of Christ’s body, at least I can count on Him to feed me.

But these words go much deeper than a bag of groceries on the doorstep. Christ “nourishes” me “. . . with the implication of a considerable period of time and the food being adequate nourishment.” (Louw and Nida) And he cares for me – get this – “with the implication of cherishing and concern for.” (Ibid). This is not delivery of tinned goods or even take out. It’s sitting down together to enjoy a beautiful meal that He has prepared, complete with candles and roses and mood lighting. He does not merely feed and provide for me. He cherishes me.

Saying “yes” to being His involves releasing the independence I’ve cultivated since toddlerhood: “I do it!”

Giving Him my “yes” means letting Him tenderly care for me, enjoying the gift together rather than trying to pay Him for it.

And it means soaking in the mystery that He has so bound Himself to me, making us one flesh, that if He fails to nourish and cherish me, He hurts (and hates) Himself.

One thing more.

Jesus? For all the times I’ve tried to buy something you’ve wanted to give. . . I’m sorry.