Squirrels, Lions, and Provision

Growing up, I went camping with my family all the time. I have had so many experiences out in nature with people I love.

I’ve encountered a coiled up western diamondback rattlesnake. On another occasion, I almost put my foot in a rattlesnake nest while climbing a rock face (thankfully someone called out to me). I have seen massive alligators up close and personal in South Texas. I’ve seen longhorn, bison, and elk. My mom and I almost got lost on a trail at dusk that we then found out was near the den of a mountain lion.

I’ve burned wood that had poison ivy on it, I’ve sat on a nest of ticks and had hundreds all over me. I’ve hiked more miles than I can count and eaten more graham crackers (while the normal people ate smores) than some have in a lifetime.

These fun experiences led to memories I cherish.

Yet, these times in nature were an opportunity for me to encounter God.

Hebrews 1 teaches us that God has spoken to His people through the prophets and now through the Son.

Yet when you pay attention to Scripture, you see that God often speaks to us through His good creation. Or rather, creation testifies to His character and nature.

Psalm 104 is a song about how God has orchestrated creation to give Himself glory and praise. The psalmist draws attention to many different realities of the natural world that point to the supernatural Creator behind the scenes.

Meditate on it. Meditate on this psalm that testifies to God’s greatness and goodness, His provision and protection.

Watch nature documentaries that show you the wonders of the animal kingdom that spans the globe, the intricacies of inter-species relationships. I’ve been watching Our Planet on Netflix and have been in awe of the wonders of creation. God has been teaching me things and illustrating things for me even through watching that show.

For instance, ministers are a lot like flamingos (but that’s a blog post for another time).

Get out in creation. Take a day trip to a local state park and search for the hand of God in the world He has made.

As I’ve meditated on Psalm 104 recently, the following verse has been very impactful.

The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. – Psalm 104:21

Here’s what that communicates to me about God.

God cares for beasts. God provides for them. God allows them to find food. Now, do lions have the awareness that they are receiving only that which God has given them?

Certainly not.

But it’s no less true.

God cares for them as their provider.

In fact, this psalm teaches that all of creation is provided for by God.

The earth is full of your creatures. . . all of them wait for you to give them their food at the right time. When you give it to them, they gather it; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. – Psalm 104:24b, 27-28

God provides food for all of His creatures, big and small.

According to the psalmist, that extends to us. When we have food and wine, God orchestrated the events that got those things to our table (Psalm 104:14-15).

You, brother or sister in Christ, are the crown jewel of God’s creation. You are cared for by the Father who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and feeds the mouths of young lions.

I encourage you to seek God in creation.

Go outside.

I’m planning a trip to the Wichita Mountains (a semi-local wildlife refuge) in the next week or two in order to just see God’s creation on display. While thinking through this psalm, I wrote the following in my journal:

“God created, fashioned, founded, and formed the earth. The earth itself testifies to its Creator. I need to get off my phone and see it.”

I don’t know what acknowledging God’s creation may look like in your life. But I encourage you to do what you can.

It’s all around us.

I have squirrels that run across the roof of my house every day. And every time I hear them is an opportunity to rejoice in the fact that God provides for them. And if He provides for them, how much more so will He provide for me.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

Young Lions

I grew up on Psalm 34:8.lions.jpg

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! – Psalm 34:8

I’ve seen it referenced time and time again, whether in somebody’s kitchen, on somebody’s Facebook post, or before taking the Lord’s Supper with a church community. Yet I have failed to recognize the beauty of this verse in the context of the entire 34th Psalm. Nestled in this verse is the doctrine of divine providence. We see the truth that God provides for and protects His people. I am not a seasoned scholar or theologian so I’m not even going to try and explain God’s sovereignty vs. the free will of man. However, I will tell you that God is ultimately the Provider and Protector of us His children.

Our every single need is met by God. He provides for all of our needs.

Not only does the 34th Psalm teach us that He is a Provider, it also teaches us that He is a Protector.

Look with me at verses seven and ten.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. – Psalm 34:7

There are days where I blow through life without meditating on or thinking about the spiritual aspects of my day-to-day life. There are other days where I’m more acutely aware of the spiritual warfare being waged around me. This verse should strengthen any feeble man, as it reminds us that God’s legion of hosts are around us, and that we will be delivered in the times of our need (v. 6).

The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. – Psalm 34:10

I’ve not been around lions outside of the zoo, but it is apparent to me that they are accomplished hunters. Young lions especially are adept at hunting due to their speed, ferocity, and energy. They are referred to as the kings of the jungle for a reason. They are at the top of the food chain in their neck of the woods. For them to go hungry, many things have to be off kilter.

That’s what makes this verse so striking. There are seasons in the Sahara where the lions may be lacking in food, lacking in what they need to survive the season. Yet for the follower of Christ, no good thing is lacking. What a beautiful promise of God’s provision.

As we meditate upon the provision and protection of the God we serve, we should remember a few different things. There are truths this passage will remind us of before we expect a perfect life.

Be humble.

As we think about God’s providing and protecting hand, we must remember that we are called to remain humble before God. Psalm 34:2 will remind us to boast in the Lord, that the humble will hear of the promises of God and be glad. Psalm 34:6 tells us that it is the poor man whose cries the Lord hears.

God is loving, compassionate, and generous. At the same time however he is not a fan of the arrogant and prideful. His grace through Jesus is strong enough to cover over those sins, yet we should still seek humility before Him.

The very provision and protection of God is what is designed to lead us to be humble before Him. As I meditate upon the ways that God is providing for and protecting me each and every day, I am humbled because I understand that I’m not capable of doing those things in my own life.

Seek God.

God’s provision and protection should also lead us to worship Him and seek Him more. Psalm 34:4 says, I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. God is always in control of the cosmos. That being said, I know for a fact that in my life when I chase after Him and seek Him that I become more acutely aware of that reality.

When I’m coasting through life, I forget about God’s provision and protection and find myself shackled to fear and worry. I was a worry wart almost the entire time I was in Phoenix. Yet in the seasons of life where I have chased after God with everything in me, I have seen and beheld the ways that God has provided for and protected me and I am delivered from my fears.

Seeking God helps us to acknowledge the ways God is working in our midst.

Remember He is God and He is good. 

Lastly, we need to remember that not everything in life will work out the way that we would want it to. Just this very day things are not working out the way I had hoped in the life of one of my closest friends, and I question what God is up to.

Yet look with me at Psalm 34:9-10.

Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. – Psalm 34:9-10

The doctrine of divine providence does not promise perfect lives for followers of Christ. These verses do not promise our every heart’s desire. Instead these verses should remind and encourage us that God is God and God is good. When the psalmist promises us that we will lack no good thing when we seek the Lord, He is telling us that God is all the good we need.

When we pursue after and seek Christ, we get Him.

When we get Him, we lack nothing.

God promises to provide and protect for His people. Open your eyes and start acknowledging the ways God has done just that in your life. Next time you eat, thank God for His provision. Next time you sleep in safety, thank God for His protection.

In every bite and morsel throughout our lives we ought to taste the provision of God. 

Young lions may go hungry.

Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

I appreciate any and all feedback, and you can follow my blog below. Also, if you enjoyed this blog, please give it a share on Facebook!

We Are One

The strangest thing happened to me just the other day. In the middle of a hard day I was just chilling in my room listening to old school Disney movie soundtracks. Random I know, but it’s pretty fun to do. It was while listening to the music from the underrated but fantastic Lion King 2 that I got hit with some gospel truths.

Since the start of the new year God has been making it incredibly clear that I can’t live the Christian life outside of a strong prayer life and strong community in which to find courage and strength. These two truths have come at me from countless different directions. I’ve been reminded of them through my time in the Word, through the encouragement of a friend, through the quiet thoughts before sleep each night. And surprisingly enough, I found the encouragement and reminder to pursuelion-kin Biblical community through a song out of Lion King 2.

Before you exit out of the blog, just bear with me. This all might make sense in the end.

Here’s the gist of the scenario. Two lions in play here. Simba & Kiara. Kiara is struggling to find her purpose for her life. She doesn’t know where she fits in with the rest of the pride. Her father Simba comes along and sings to her this short song about the community that is the pride they’re in, and I truly believe that it speaks volumes about how the church functions. Here’s the full song:

As you go through life you'll see
There is so much that we
Don't understand

And the only thing we know
Is things don't always go
The way we planned

But you'll see every day
That we'll never turn away
When it seems all your dreams come undone

We will stand by your side
Filled with hope and filled with pride
We are more than we are
We are one

Kiara: If there's so much I must be
Can I still just be me
The way I am?

Kiara: Can I trust in my own heart
Or am I just one part
Of some big plan?

Even those who are gone
Are with us as we go on
Your journey has only begun

Tears of pain, tears of joy
One thing nothing can destroy
Is our pride, deep inside
We are one

We are one, you and I
We are like the earth and sky
One family under the sun

All the wisdom to lead
All the courage that you need
You will find when you see
We are one

There’s so much here that has implications on the church body although that’s obviously not the intended purpose of this song.

Simba encourages Kiara that although things might not go as she would like or she had planned, she would have a community that would never turn away from her in those hardships and failures. The encouragement that he gave to her was that they would all stand by her side in hope and pride, they as a pride are more than just individuals, they are ‘one’.

Being in Phoenix has showed me so quickly and so explicitly that I can’t keep going in the Christian walk apart from community. Evil is real, times get hard, and without the support of a church body we can easily get picked off by the enemy. I’ve been tremendously blessed by the generosity and kindness of my church body here in Phoenix. Without them it would have been far too hard to walk through death in my family and assimilating to a new place.

That’s one of the coolest blessings of following Christ. When we enter into salvation through faith, we become a part of something so much bigger than any one of us.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, – Ephesians 2:19

so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. – Romans 12:5

That verse from Ephesians is in a passage describing what Christ did for us on the cross, all the benefits of salvation. We were saved by grace. We were affirmed as His workmanship. We have been brought near to God through the blood of Christ. We are no longer far off, instead we have been reconciled to God and are at peace with Him. We have access to the Father. Yet we also have been given the blessed hope of living in community with all believers across the globe. We are no longer strangers and aliens, we are fellow citizens in the household of God. We are, according to Paul, one body in Christ.

We are one.

The second verse of the song is even cooler in my opinion. As a younger follower of Christ, in a sense my journey has only begun, but I do not journey alone. I’m being equipped and encouraged by those who have gone before, Christ-followers from previous generations.

Simba tells Kiara that in the midst of tears of joy and tears of pain, nothing will destroy the fact that the pride is one. The pride is one big family under the sun. Simba promises Kiara that all the wisdom and courage she needs is found inside the pride, inside the community that she was born into.

Members of my generation (including myself at times) have bought the lie that we don’t need the organized church to pursue Christ. Oh that we would come to realize what a blessing the organized church is. As followers of Christ we are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. We will find all the wisdom and courage that we need to stand for Christ in the context of the church community.

I still struggle with how to do this well. But Satan loves nothing more than isolating Christians and figuring out how to tear them down outside of community. Don’t let him.

Acknowledge the church community as the blessing that it is. Embrace it. Find courage, wisdom, support, purpose, hope, joy, and so much more in the bride of Christ.

We weren’t made to be alone.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

I appreciate any and all feedback, and you can follow my blog via the menu!