Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31, NIV)
Some of my earliest memories are of watching movies — like South Pacific in 1958 or 1959 (I fell asleep in my Mom’s lap sometime after the song, “Bali Ha’i“), Magic Boy/The Little Samurai in about 1961 (the first Japanese animation movie distributed in the US), and The Phantom of the Opera/Herbert Lom version in 1962 (which inspired me to want to write opera). Turns out I’m visually oriented in certain learning styles, so it makes sense that I love many kinds of media — comic books, board games, picture puzzles, movies …
Occasionally I like a movie so much that I look for posters to remind me of them, or press kits to find unique information about how they were made. I started on eBay in 1999 because I was utterly captivated by the movie, The Matrix. I had to come up with an account name and, unfortunately, the rather obvious selection of “MatrixMan” was taken. So I settled for “matrixman2,” because I wanted to get in there and get bidding! Not exactly an original name, but functional.
And so it was, over the years when I had regular work situations, that I’d spend significant chunks of change on media-related materials, mostly DVDs, books, and press kits. And, when I decided to use movies as major illustrations for the curriculum and fieldwork I was developing on how to do cultural analysis, I collected a number of large vinyl banners that had been used to advertise movies. Thought they’d make great visuals for classroom use …
… and they still might, after this curriculum is done. And who knows … because things rarely work out exactly as expected, I just might have a chance to teach this material. Anyway, somewhere in there, the timeline for finishing the curriculum got stretched out, as it became more clear it was meant to be more than about understanding cultures and the contexts in which we serve.
Meanwhile, then I lost my job as of October 31, 2008, when the economy tanked. That’s when the finances got stretched thin. And so, 10 years after I became an eBuyer, I became an eBay seller in 2009 — at the same time as when I launched into what would eventually become this vastly revised curriculum that I am nearing the finish line on completing volume #1! It’s almost like those many eBay media items I’d purchased years earlier had been serving as a “savings account” for when most needed later.
Which brings us back to the message of God’s provision in times that are tough: “His eye is on the sparrow.”
This past week was the six-year anniversary of when I lost my job and what turned out to be my last regular employment stint. Since then, it’s all been a patchwork of unexpected bits and pieces: Freelance editing work showing up just when needed to pay bills. Work house-sitting or pet-sitting. Generous support from family members and friends. And eBay sales, mostly of media-related items that I’d already immersed myself into and processed through creating case studies, and lesson plans, and fan sites (see my “futuristguy blogs” list in the right-hand navigation bar). [And I’ve added the following, as I continue to reflect on the patterns I’ve seen in how the Father provides: Food showing up with the cupboards and frig are nearly empty. Overdrafts avoided by last-hour deposits. And, because “provision” is not all about financial stuff, then there have been notes, emails, phone calls, direct messages, etc., from friends and family when most needed due to a spiritual slump or to share in celebratory circumstances. These are all part to the picture puzzle that shows God’s character embodied through His people and His providence.]
Funds frequently show up at the 11th hour, often on the exact day needed. If you’ve experienced something like this, you know how both anxiety-making and exhilarating it can be — and how much of a spiritual stretching exercise it becomes, no matter how long the lessons go on:
- Yes, the Lord really does care for us, even when everything seems to go dark and silent.
- Yes, He does provide, even if by “Raven Brigade,” like with Elijah hiding out in the wilderness in 1 Kings 17.
- No, His provision doesn’t always show up when we think-feel-desire that it should.
- But that doesn’t mean He’s unfaithful. He may just have other purposes afoot for us, and those moments are meant as trajectory turning points.
As I mentioned, I’m a visual person when it comes to learning and remembering. So, for years, I’ve kept on my desk this red fabric bird Christmas ornament. My friend Katie gave it to me at a time we were both going through financial difficulties. It’s become a concrete reminder of God watching over the sparrows, and that we are worth much more than they are to Him. Sometimes she and I will exchange emails or Facebook direct messages where “Chirp … chirp …” may be the whole message, as we just start an exchange to check in and see how each other is doing. Still moving forward … still seeing the Spirit at work … still giving thanks for God’s provisions in unexpected places, ways, and times.
I hope you likewise feel lifted up as you consider God’s gracious provision for you, and as you imagine new horizons for the coming seasons in your journey with Jesus.
P.S. After I wrote this, I searched my files to see if I had a photo of the Chirp-Chirp bird, and found that I’d written a similar piece to this almost exactly three years ago, halfway through this period of completing this curriculum. That photo is the one above, and click on this link if you’re interested in seeing what I wrote November 14, 2011 (when I genuinely — but naively — thought I was on the “last lap” to finishing the curriculum!).
P.P.S. And if you’re interested, click on this link to check out my “matrixman2” eBay profile and what collections I’m currently listing: “I am a futurist, media culturologist, social activist, and organizational ecologist. Since the last millennium, eBay has fueled those passions by providing a space where I can locate rare, unusual, and hard-to-find items of interest.”