I was working my way through some laundry the other day. Yes, I am always working my way through some laundry. Maybe I was folding or sorting or trying to decide whether something was dirty or if it could go back in the drawer and not contribute to the pile overflowing the laundry basket — when the thought kind of hit me like a brick.

Well, actually it was a pretty pleasant thought, so maybe I should say it hit me more like a gust of warm air when you’re coming in from the cold outside.

I was looking at all these clothes and thinking “I’ve had these pants since I was in college. I have definitely had this and that and that and that since before HH and I tied the knot. Who knows how long he’s had this? I know it is from way before we met.”

And what used to be a sort of complaint — because who wants old, don’t we all want new? — this realization became a sort of prayer of gratefulness for me.

What a gift that these clothes are still doing their job well. What a gift that the running shoes I bought while home to NC on a visit from SA ages ago are still taking my feet from place to place — and they still look great. What a gift that these bits and pieces are holding up so nicely, while we are busy trying to focus on sticking to a budget and getting out of debt — what a gift that I don’t have to add this or that or a new one of those to a shopping list?

The Lord did this miraculous thing for the Israelites when they wandered in the desert those forty years. Besides providing the manna for food, besides providing water, besides leading them and being present with them, He sustained them in such a way that their clothes didn’t even wear out. Moses reminded them:

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. {Deut. 8:1-5, emphasis mine}

I wonder who noticed, before Moses said something, that their sandals hadn’t worn out after forty years? Who noticed that their clothes were not threadbare and tattered after all that time? Would I have noticed? Would I have paused to give thanks? Or would it maybe have been one of my complaints about the wilderness?

“These gladiator sandals are so a generation ago and there is nowhere to shop around here!”

With all the distractions and concerns and interests and “needs” we think of in our daily lives, do we see… observe… take off our shoes, grateful for what has already been given?

Has it really taken me this long to realize that the things I already have are a gift from the hand of God? That even the things (perhaps especially the things) that are older, that are still going strong, that miraculously just haven’t worn out are just as much a gift as the fresh manna and the gentle, daily hand of guidance?

Surely these things I once would’ve complained about are rightly seen as gifts. And my right response is to know in my heart that He is good, it is in His goodness that He disciplines me by teaching me to use what I have, to help me see how thankful I should be for where the boundary lines have fallen. The Israelites hadn’t yet entered their Promised Land — but there was still so much cause to be grateful, to give thanks and sing praises.

Now is a good opportunity. Today is a new day. And sometimes the gift is the new manna that falls fresh every morning — and for that we give thanks. But sometimes the gift is something that has already been given — still ours, still provided by His hand — and even though the providing happened years ago, it’s still today’s provision.

That nice gush of warm wind on a chilly fall morning was the breath of fresh air I needed to help bring me closer to a right perspective about my life at the moment — and I thought it would be good to take a moment to share it. Perhaps it’s His provision for you today, too.