Posted by: Tom Gaddis | November 24, 2009

Jimmy Stewart Moments

Have you seen the 1965 movie classic, Shenandoah? The year is 1863. The Civil War is engulfing Virginia landowner Charlie Anderson (Jimmy Stewart) even though he doggedly refuses to take sides in the conflict. In the midst of his life and family being torn apart by the war, we come to a scene where the family is gathered around the dinner table with Jimmy Stewart praying:

“Lord, we stop to pray for this food. We cleared the land. We planted the crop and harvested it. We cooked it. If it hadn’t been for us it wouldn’t be here. But we thank you for it anyway. Amen.”

While most people would never pray this way, many think this way. Failing to see the invisible God behind the visible—paychecks, groceries, houses, cars, clothing—a gradual slide is made into thanklessness. It’s always been so.

During her wilderness journey, Israel lived by God’s direct provision with daily miracles of manna, water, shade, etc. God was their primary source for everything. But in the land they were entering, they soon would be living by His indirect provision—well water, planted vineyards, covered patios, etc. God then used secondary sources to provide for His people.

My theologian-friend, Don Pickerell, reminds us, “Secondary sources can imply a false conclusion about life, as Deuteronomy 8:17-18 warns, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”

Like me, do you ever have Jimmy Stewart moments—confusing the two ways of God’s providing? Here’s a better prayer as we gather as families around our dinner tables this week:  

“Lord, we stop to pray for this food. Because of your blessing we’ve been given the strength to earn the money to buy it and the very hands to prepare it. And had it not been for your grace we wouldn’t even be here. So we thank you. Amen”



  1. Well said, Tom. Every new day is a gift from God. Every breath a miracle. Each moment a blessing.

  2. Welcome home Jeanette! From follwing your Sedona posts on FB it sounds like the trip “rocked”. Pun intended. Yes, I am one who works at remembering that each new day is a gift, every breath a miracle, and every moment a blessing. Oh, but this memory problem does get in the way.

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