May 17, 2019 • Life for Leaders
[The LORD] covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills. . . .
He grants peace to your borders
and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
I recently visited some friends who live in Iowa. Spring had gloriously sprung there. The trees were budding and the tulips were flowering. God’s artistic glory was on display everywhere. In the language of Psalm 147:14, the Lord “covered the sky with clouds, supplied the earth with rain, and made grass grow on the hills.”
A highlight of my Iowa trip was spending time with some new friends. They gave me a tour of the company for which they work, a gigantic operation that produces heavy equipment for farming and other earth-tending efforts. As a lover of tools and their use, I was thrilled to see how they make balers, trenchers, and chippers.
This factory visit was still fresh in my memory when I read Psalm 147 in order to write today’s Life for Leaders devotional. This psalm celebrates God’s provision for his people. According to verse 14, the Lord “satisfies you with the finest of wheat.” This is certainly and wonderfully true. The wheat from which we make bread and so many other edibles grows naturally, almost mysteriously, from a mix of soil, light, and water. It comes as a gift of God through the world God created.
Yet, wheat doesn’t just show up magically as flour in our cupboards or bread on our tables. Wheat isn’t like manna. Rather, growing wheat requires considerable human effort. In the time in which Psalm 147 was written, farmers had to plant wheat, tend their fields, and ultimately harvest what grew. So, though it’s absolutely right to say that God satisfies us with the finest of wheat, we should acknowledge the necessity of human effort in the process of satisfaction. God supplies wheat, not only through the wonder of natural growth, but also through human labor. Sometimes this labor is of the “hands on” variety. Sometimes this labor comes through machines invented through human creativity and produced with human oversight in manufacturing plants.
So, as we celebrate God’s provision of wheat and other natural blessings, we also remember and celebrate God’s choice to provide through our work. What we do matters, not only for ourselves, but also for others who are beneficiaries of our efforts. I have never grown wheat myself. But I have been satisfied by wheat grown by others who are God’s partners in the wheat growing business.
Something to Think About:
In what ways do you experience God’s provision that includes the work of others?
How does your work (paid or unpaid) contribute to God’s work in the world?
Something to Do:
The next time you eat a meal, take time to consider how the food you are eating got to your plate. Give thanks specifically for all of those whose work has helped you to have good food to eat. And give thanks to God for his generous provision through the work of others.
Gracious God, indeed, you do satisfy us with the finest of wheat and so many other natural products. Every day we are blessed with what you provide for us. These blessings come to us not as manna from heaven, but through the work of human hands. We are indeed your partners in the stewardship and flourishing of creation. So, today we thank you for your provision, and also for human partnership in your work. Thank you for meeting our needs through the good work of others. Thank you for allowing us to be your partners in the work of helping this world to be productive and protected. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.