We’re now well into the school term and I imagine parents across the country are starting to feel they’re in the swing of things. I like the structure of it, and I find myself slipping into habits that have become second nature to me because they help my family to function without too much of the screaming ab-dabs.
For example, it’s unthinkable for me to do the ‘school run’ without snacks. The ‘school run’ might only mean a five-minute walk after kadunking the buggy downstairs, but to do it unarmed is sheer madness. Ravenous beasts do not make happy four-year-olds.
It strikes me that becoming an experienced parent has a lot to do with meeting anticipated needs. You don’t become clairvoyant, but through experience you learn to prepare for what’s about to happen. When your child has wet herself enough times in expensive shops, you learn to take spare pants wherever you go. Then, when the inevitable happens, you’re calm and your child is not traumatised. It keeps you sane, but it’s also the loving thing to do.
Some parents are excellent at this – it’s a wonder to behold. Little boys hold out their banana skins to their mothers, taking it for granted that she’ll be holding out the rubbish bag in advance. I am still a rookie. Just this morning I had to ask a stranger for wipes because my baby had a sneezing spree and I was ill-equipped to deal with it. But next time, I’ll know.
Why am I telling you this? Well, lately I’ve been thinking that God equips me all the time for things, and I probably only notice it a fraction of the time. I can hardly believe God’s kindness towards me. He prepares my heart just in time for things I’ll find difficult. A few weeks ago my church small group were learning about weeping with those who weep and mourning with those who mourn. Days later one of the members in the group suffered a huge trauma, which has led us all to gather around and weep with her.
If you look through the Bible, you’ll see God equipping and providing for His people before they even know what they need. In Exodus 4, the Lord gave Moses his ‘magic’ staff because He knew Pharaoh wouldn’t believe him. In 1 Samuel, we see that David has spent years practising with his slingshot before he needed to use it on Goliath. As Jesus said, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8).
Unlike us parents, the Lord knows everything. He can provide for our needs before we know we need them. Just like children with their well-equipped mothers, we take it for granted that God provides for us, and we often don’t even notice He’s doing it. I know I don’t appreciate it nearly enough. But next time I see a mum at the school gate whip out a waterproof just in time for the downpour, I’ll thank my Father in heaven that He always has everything I need – and He never forgets to pack the snacks.