Revue: His Provision

“Sun and Skye,” © 2017 Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster made the list of childhood favorites in my home.  Perhaps, the author’s propensity to pun captivated my son.

Or maybe, like so many children’s stories, its magical and imaginative story-line appealed to both of us.  Milo’s drive through the magical tollbooth via a toy car, and then, his resulting adventures certainly deserve a place in the Annuls of popular, children’s literature.

More than that, though, the novel contains pragmatic wisdom regarding subjects such as the dangers of “jumping to conclusions.”

Undoubtedly, The Phantom Tollbooth follows the allegorical tradition of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

Milo’s primary quest certainly suggests such a comparison: before Milo can restore the princesses—Rhyme and Reason—to their rightful places, he must conquer the Mountains of Ignorance and the demons that dwell there.

As Milo and his friends climb the mountain pass, they meet a variety of characters in the darkness.

The Phantom Tollbooth follows the allegorical tradition of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.

For me, the most unforgettable of these was a dapper gentleman who stood against a dead tree.  Although dressed in fine clothes, the man’s face drew a complete blank.  Nothing.  No expression. Not even the possibility.

Indeed, the gentleman had no eyes, nose or mouth.  A complete blank.   Even so, he appeared a charming personality, and Milo and friends were relieved to find a friendly voice in such a dark and foreboding place.

Thus, when the gentleman very politely asked for help, Milo immediately volunteered.

The tasks delegated were odd: a pile of fine sand to be moved with the aid of tweezers; a water well to be emptied with an eye dropper; and a hole in a granite cliff to be dug with a sewing needle.

After working for some time, Milo began to ask questions.  And swiftly it became apparent that his charming new “friend” was no friend at all, but rather a demon…

When confronted, the gentleman admitted that he was a demon named Terrible Trivium, and that he was the promoter of “petty tasks and worthless jobs, ogre of wasted effort, and monster of habit.”

Milo and his friends make their narrow escape.  Their encounter, however, leaves the reader with much to ponder.

Their experience resonates with me.  That’s right.  I have also met the Terrible Trivium along the way. Perhaps, you have, too.

Trivium offers a comfortable detour, a distraction from God’s best.  And like Juster’s fictional demon, our very real enemy is a master of deterrents, the prince of never-ending detours and aimless wandering.

His deterrents often appear as sensible or favorable opportunities. The majority may even be charmed by the detour’s “wisdom.”

I have also met the Terrible Trivium along the way.

Definitely reminds me of the book of Exodus.  Despite their miraculous release from slavery, the Israelites were frequently side-tracked when the enemy threw diversions in their path.

And unfortunately, God’s people listened to the enemy’s soothing deceit; yeah, humanity naturally prefers comfortable escape routes to life’s treacherous mountain passes.

Of course, Satan offers no genuine comfort.  Instead, like the Terrible Trivium, he offers inadequate tools or cheap substitutes for God’s presence and guidance.  Such detours inevitably end in tedious wandering…

Like most of us, the Israelites should have known better.  But the enemy often disguises himself as an angel of light…and in the midst of fear and darkness, the charming yet empty voice initially appeared friendly.

Through Moses, Yahweh had led His people to the borders of the Promised Land.  Indeed, God’s grace included an incredible homeland.

But upon the return of the twelve spies sent by Moses to scope out the land, Trivium noted the danger in entering the Promised Land, and offered a safe, familiar but pointless alternative to following God’s daring plan.

Humanity naturally prefers comfortable escape routes to life’s treacherous mountain passes.

Fear reigned that day. The majority of the spies supported an unequivocal retreat.   Ten spies warned that “the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large…”

They also spoke of giants, (Numbers 13:32).  In fact, they recommended turning back from God’s plan.

They advocated the seemingly safe tedium of desert nomadic life.    Their concerns probably sounded reasonable; although the Promised Land was all that God had said, the ten believed it to be too risky a venture.

Yes, Mañana sounds so reasonable an alternative.  And I put off the journey I fear.

As a result, I wander aimlessly in the empty desert rather than venture into the unknown, yet Promised Land.  I move sand with a pair of tweezers.

“Stop awhile; the journey is too long and dark.  You are not strong enough. You are not up to the task.  Instead, stay and help me with the seeming good,” the smooth-talking stranger coos.

Yet, had the Israelites considered God’s past faithfulness, Trivium’s lies would have been obvious.

And the same holds true for you and me.

As I recently reviewed the Hebrew’s Exodus story, I noted that God had provided again and again for His people throughout their arduous desert travels.  And His provision extended further than I ever imagined.

Although most of us are very familiar with the history of manna, I have often skimmed over the details, and as a result, I have missed an extraordinary example of God’s vigilant care.

Mañana sounds so reasonable an alternative.

God had instructed the people to rest on the Sabbath.  Yet, the bread from heaven did not keep beyond the day it was gathered.  It would seem that work on the Sabbath would be necessary. Had God given them a command that would be difficult if not impossible to obey?

Not so.   Again, as Peter notes, our God, ‘has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness,’ (2 Peter 1:3).

God sets our feet on His path and then, He provides for our obedience.

The people gathered double portions of manna on the sixth day before Sabbath.  And Scripture tells us that the manna did not “sour.”

That’s right. When God calls you and me to complete a task or to travel over rocky ground, He does not leave us without the power or tools to obey Him (Acts 1:8).

Indeed, He reminded His people, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself,” (Exodus 19:4).

And Abba has brought you and me out of “Egypt” as well… We do not serve blank Tedium. We are no longer caught in the kingdom of darkness; we now belong to the kingdom of God.

Yet, God sets our feet on His path and then, He provides for our obedience.

Abba calls us to lives of eternal significance. He has placed our feet on an incredible path.  Certainly, we encounter danger along the way.

Yet, there is nothing that we face that He cannot handle (Mark 10:27).  He has promised both to both guide and provide.

He gives great grace.  He is faithful despite my fears, (2 Timothy 2:13).  The Exodus of Israel proves it beyond doubt.  You might say that Israel is God’s Q.E.D.

Undoubtedly, we sometimes walk through the wilderness; on the way to the Promised Land, we may even encounter dark mountain passes.  During such times, it becomes especially important for me to recall how God has provided for me in the past.

After all, He never fails.  And we can depend upon that.  Without a doubt, Abba will provide all that we need to fulfill His calling.

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence,” ~ 2 Peter 1:2-3

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly,” ~Psalm 84:11

53 Replies to “Revue: His Provision”

  1. Can you imagine what it was like to spend forty years in the desert? What did they do with their time? How did they make their lives useful and meaningful?
    It is the same today when we are in deserts in our lives. How can we make them useful and meaningful when there is just the monotonous repetition of days one like the other?
    Thanks so much for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Valerie…it must have been something to wait on God in that way. I think there is a lesson in faithfulness in their tale. I try to remind myself of the importance of being faithful in the seemingly small things as I wait for God’s grander plan to unfold. Thank you for stretching my thoughts here today! You’re great! God bless you big time! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a delightful read, dearest Bev. Perfect for elementary school-aged children with unforgettable characters like Tock, the Watchdog, and the princesses-Rhyme and Reason. I think they might have made a film of the book at one point! Thanks so much for stopping by! Your friendship means the world to me! ❤ ❤ and hugs!!

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  2. Lynn, I had never heard of this children’s book. Wow! Your post is excellent. Yes, I have dug sand with a needle (if I remember right) and like the Israelites wondered around the mountain one too many times. I guess I will have to take a look at this book cause your post sure left a visual impression on me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a delightful book, dear Denise…an allegory that feels a little like Alice in Wonderland, the Wizard of Oz and Pilgrim’s progress. Lots of humor as well. It isn’t a Christian book per se, but there is lots of wisdom that is compatible with the Christian World view to be found in the story. Thank you so much for your kind words regarding my post… I was “preaching to myself” again! So hard to stay focused sometimes. Love and huge hugs to you, dear Denise! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Praise the Lord for providing to us ❤ I love reading how you draw to Moses' journey and how God led His people. In many posts, you do a wonderful job illustrating the stories with your words. 🙂 You are a teacher as well.

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    1. This is the Isle of Skye just off the Scottish coast, Kathy! Thank you so much for your kind words! You are such a treasured friend! Love and huge hugs!! Hope you are having a wonderful time in warmer weather! 🙂 ❤ ❤

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  4. Hallelujah, God provides for our obedience!!! I’m going to have to find a copy of this “The Phantom Tollbooth”. I think my boys would enjoy reading it with me. We like Bunyan’s tale. 🙂 Thank you for the recommendation!

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  5. Amen, Lynn! I am so good at procrastinating and you have given me a timely and well-worded reminder to get on with what’s important, rather than allowing myself to get distracted. Thank you! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post Lynn. I like when you said, “… he must conquer the Mountains of Ignorance and the demons that dwell there.” The reason I like this quote is because sometimes, in order to restore balance and put Reason and Rhyme (timing) back in it’s place; we might have to climb the mountains of our ignorance towards God and get back to Him.

    “Trivium offers a comfortable detour, a distraction from God’s best.  And like Juster’s fictional demon, our very real enemy is a master of deterrents, the prince of never-ending detours and aimless wandering.
    His deterrents often appear as sensible or favorable opportunities. The majority may even be charmed by the detour’s “wisdom.”

    When we confront the Trivium in our lives, it can be hard to stay focused on God because it creates “distractions” as other “opportunities” to get to God, but later. Meaning that sometimes, Satan will have distractions there that pull our agent away from God and we may not even realize it until it’s too late.

    I also like when you said, “Humanity naturally prefers comfortable escape routes to life’s treacherous mountain passes.” Becuase we do as human beings prefer alternatives to the dangerous situations in our lives, but we don’t realize that by taking these “alternative routes”; we are actually moving closer and closer towards destruction.

    One of the quotes I liked in your post was: “… I wander aimlessly in the empty desert rather than venture into the unknown, yet Promised Land.” And I think that’s because, we prefer comfort in where we are then the promised blessings God has in store for us; we need to just trust in God and walked into His promises.

    This is a particular quote that I liked in your post:

    1). “When God calls you and me to complete a task or to travel over rocky ground, He does not leave us without the power or tools to obey Him (Acts 1:8).”

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    1. Thank you so much, Josh! Your comments always bless me for you have such keen insight and always expand so beautifully on the truths that I’m often only able to touch upon in my posts! God bless you, my wise and gifted friend!

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      1. Thank you so much Lynn and your blog posts continue to speak to me as well. There was a quote within your blog post that I though was interesting and was wondering if I could use it in my Part 2 of why it’s important to read the Bible?

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    1. Yeah, it is a pretty unknown gem. That is, if you like an excellent “play on words.” It is very clever and particularly apropos for elementary school students. I enjoyed reading it with my son when he was that age. 🙂 And thank you for your encouragement and friendship, dear Julie! You can’t imagine how much both mean to me! ❤ and hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Lynn, now I have the problem of your posts not showing up in my Reader. I will be sure to follow the emails from now on. Thank you for connecting me to these stories that are wonderful reminders to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, as it says in Hebrews 12:2, of our lives. I can still hear my dad reciting the scripture. Powerful and beautiful. I love you. Beautiful post as always!
    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I totally understand, dearest Deb! Sigh. I think sometimes that if I’m not online when posts come through, that the reader “loses” the notification… shuffles it to the bottom of the list, and that I miss it. Sigh. But not to worry. I love you regardless of whether you catch my posts or not. 🙂 You are truly a wonderful friend, and I thank God again and again for you! ❤ and hugs always!

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      1. You’re welcome, Lynn and I send you back HUGE hugs from this end of the world! 💙💙

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  8. Lynn, thank you for this timely post (for anytime) and your words, “Yet, there is nothing that we face that He cannot handle (Mark 10:27); where He sets about to show us how He does it.
    Too many times we believe what men have taught: that God does not give us more than we can bear. It is in these times we learn to return to the place He planned for all of us ~ complete dependency upon Him for all things. Blessings as you continue to honor Him with your precious gifts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Amen! Thank you, Frances, for sharing your powerful insight and wisdom! You are so right… complete dependency upon our heavenly Father is the place of greatest joy, peace and comfort! Thank you also for your kind encouragement! It means so much to me. God bless you greatly! ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I heard on the radio this morning lost children in the mountains always, always go down. They never climb up. They go the path of least resistance. Makes sense, for that’s exactly what the nation of Israel did too. Human nature, I guess. God’s best is often hard, physically challenging, emotionally raw, with edges being chipped off, and iron sharpening iron, yet at the same time, Matthew 11:30 is more present than ever. Maybe next time I’m tempted to go down the mountain after losing my way, I should stop, sit and then get up and climb on. I don’t know. Just thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, your thoughts here are so profound, Jeff! So often the climb looks so difficult to us, and yet, it is the most blessed and safe path. I think you may have the seed for a post here 🙂 😉 God bless you, my wise friend! Your insights continue to inspire me! So grateful to have found your blog. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you with all my heart for honoring my post so incredibly, Josh! I’m so grateful if anything I might write or say encourages others. Thank you for your powerful blog post, and for allowing me to be a small part of it! God bless you big time!! 😀

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