The following is a guest column by Edith Schaeffer, L’Abri Fellowship, Huémoz, Switzerland.

What far reaching effects the limitation of oil has had! Here in Switzerland there is no driving on Sunday, and quiet roads wind down the mountainsides empty except for walking people or flying birds. City streets are the scene of roller skating and horseback riding. One feels on Sundays as if the clock has been turned back to a pre-automobile time, a time when people passed one another slowly enough to speak.

But time does not turn back, and the shortage of one essential product like oil points out our dependence on a limitless supply of a variety of things. Come to the end of one thing and many other things are affected; but more than “things,” human beings are affected. Suddenly there are no jobs in some industry, and as in a chain reaction other factories become silent. Depression! Depression in one country spreading to other countries. A “world depression” is an idea skulking in men’s imaginations today, a fear taking form in their hearts. Limited oil, limited gas, limited warmth, limited food, limited transportation—the future shows signs of bleakness.

Human beings are also depressed, frustrated, or at least annoyed by their own limitations. People with too much to do are frustrated by the limitation of time. People with too many places they feel they need to be are frustrated by the limitation of space. People with many talents and ideas are frustrated by the limitation of energy, by the frailty of the human frame, by the constantly recurring need for sleep. Some people who are full of ideas are frustrated by a limitation of talent or ability to carry them out. Persons with physical inadequacies are frustrated by the limitations of their own bodies. People who realize that the passing of time has made a difference to them personally are frustrated by the limitation of abilities they once felt were unlimited.

And human beings in their specific areas of limitation bring about a reaction in other human beings, as well as in history. Limited joy, limited peace, limited quiet, limited strength, limited interest affect not only the person but also others whom that person touches.

Why dwell on the gloomy idea of limitedness? First, because it affects every one of us, and second, because there is a solution. We have an unlimited God, who created a limited universe. There is not an unlimited supply of oil in the ground, and there is not an unlimited supply of energy in a human being. We are dependent upon an unlimited God.

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Paul writes in Philippians 4:19, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus”—a promise from the living, unlimited God to his limited, needy children of every century. In this day of empty store shelves, empty oil tanks, empty gas tanks, consider another passage: “Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?… For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:31–33).

An order is given. First, “take no thought”—that is, stop worrying. Stop being afraid in the middle of the night. This is a negative order.

In the place of worrying, however, a positive thing is commanded. The second thing to do is to put first the realities of the truth concerning the existence of God and our truly being in his family. This doesn’t mean quoting platitudes to one another but honestly crying out to God in our need, and feeling the wonder as we cry of having an unlimited Person to cry to and to come to with our needs. However, the practical outworking of that is meant to be a demonstrable area of putting him first in some way. How? I would say allowing his interruptions to come first, before our definite schedule.

We have a deadline to meet for gathering in the wheat, making the candles, selling the insurance, writing the report, cooking the meal, whatever is on today’s schedule, and suddenly a phone call, or a person at the door, or a letter presents us with an urgent need to give some spiritual help, to teach a Bible class, to talk to someone by telephone or letter or in person. It is in these practical moments where it will cost us time or energy or money that we make the decision to put the kingdom of God first. When a factory owner has to choose between making more profit and sharing with his workers, he has a chance to put the kingdom of God first. “Seeking first the kingdom of God” does not mean comfortably giving a couple of hours a week in church and writing a check to a good cause; it means an openness, a sensitiveness to being led by the Lord in ways that interrupt the putting of our own interests first, materially, physically, psychologically.

The third part of the “condition” placed upon our receiving “all these things” is seeking His righteousness. How can we know anything about this? Our righteousness is so very limited.

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We find out how in Philippians 3:8, 9, as well as in many other places. Think of this during the next quiet moment you have, perhaps as you are waiting for a traffic light to change: “I count all things but loss [I count everything as unimportant] … that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

The righteousness that we are meant to be seeking, then, is something he has already provided for us in unlimited supply. He has told us that his strength is made perfect in weakness, and that his grace is sufficient for us. This assurance was given to Paul after he had asked that a “thorn in the flesh” be removed. The answer God gives his children is always a real answer. Sometimes that answer is the supplying of the actual thing asked for, specifically and definitely. At other times the answer is the supplying of grace to bear the thorn, quietness in the middle of a continuing storm, comfort in the midst of a continuing sorrow.

We need not continue in depression, frustration, annoyance, as we are caught by a limited supply, whether spiritually, physically, or materially. In the middle of the night, or while waiting for the traffic light, don’t worry anxiously, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, do let your request be made known unto God. And then the peace of God, which passes the understanding of yourself, of others watching, of demons waiting for you to be destroyed, of angels looking to see if you’ll have a victory, will keep your fearful heart and your mind that fills so easily with nagging worries. And it will all be through Christ Jesus, the Second Person of the unlimited Trinity.

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