The Great Provide with Claire Fournier

On April 5th, Claire Fournier, Chief Strategic Partnership Officer at Orlando Health (read bio here) and our very own J4 Leaders Board Member, shared about God's promise that his will always provide for us! Here is her talk in it's entirety:

Just so I can get a temperature of those here tonight, how many of you try your absolute best to allow Christ to be at the wheel, guiding your life? All right, a great number!

And how many of you might find yourself in the same trap that I find myself, many times trying to have the Lord drive from the back seat, or even worse, I lock him the trunk? OK, I’m glad I am not the only one who is a work in progress here tonight in my faith journey.

Many times in public speaking, you can warm up your audience with humor. And I think I have some humor to share with you tonight. Up until about 5pm yesterday, I had a great talk prepared for you on the Great Control – allowing God to have control in your life. Imagine my surprise at the end of the day when reading the email reminder; I realized the subject was the Great Provide.

Leaning not on my own understanding, I definitely leaned on Him last night to PROVIDE words for me to share with you tonight. So goodbye to my speech on handing God control of our lives. Please see me afterwards if you need someone to give that speech in the future. In reality, maybe giving up control leads to the Great Provide.

When thinking about how God has ALWAYS provided for me – I can say he has provided for my needs 100% of the time in my life….that is when I allowed him to guide me. So many times, I want my human needs to be met. As crazy as it sounds, I try to strategize, analyze or prioritize what I think is best for me. I ask for my prayers to be answered, promptly. Thankfully as we age, we come to understand many times unanswered prayers were anything but unanswered. God knows best what we need, far beyond our earthly desires and requests.

As best as I try, I hate to admit, I only give the Lord a part-time job most days in leading my life. And I’m learning that breaking that pattern starts with simple daily steps of trusting him to provide. When I wake up in the morning still thinking through last night’s problem, whether at work or home, I’m trying to cheat God out of his job of providing an answer to my challenge through quiet contemplation. Listening to him.

Christ wants to sit at the throne of our life. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. Isn’t it almost comical that we would think with our faulty human brain that we could direct our path better than the creator of the universe?

In my favorite devotional, Jesus Calling, I was given some great content for tonight on March 29th. It read, “Stop trying to work things out before their times have come. Accept the limitations of living one day at a time. When something comes to your attention, ask Me whether or not it is part of today’s agenda. If it isn’t, release it into My care and go about today’s duties. Listen…for God to provide you your answers. You’ll recognize them.

I’m learning this one day at a time approach of trusting God with today, and not getting overly analytical about the past or future actions works well. In today’s crazy pace and constant demands, I yearn to simplify my life and find peace.

Why else do we envy children with their reckless abandon of freedom and happiness, except for the simplicity of their lives? They truly live in the moment. Let’s go back to being kids! And let our Heavenly Father provide for our needs in our daily walk.

When I think of the 3 areas that concern me the most, areas I continually ask God to provide for me and family, it includes: My personal happiness, health, peace and joy. You know, the fruits of the Spirit more: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Pretty good list. Because we all know if Mama isn’t happy, no one is happy.

My prayers next are for the health, safety and happiness of my family and cherished friends, my chosen family.

And lastly, I worry about being financially secure. It is the only explanation of why I would spend so much time and energy thinking about career or changes at work. Financial instability is a frightening thought to me.

Number one: When trying to make myself happy, I’m learning God can do a much better of job running my life. But it still doesn’t mean I am not hard wired to take the wheel back from him all too often. This is especially true when we are in the valleys of our lives.

I’ve been in a personal season of change the past two years as I transitioned from raising a child at home to launching my son Michael into his college career. Letting go was really hard, as was the joy in giving daily maternal love and influencing his life decisions.

How many of you have launched a child into college? How many found it extremely difficult to give ownership to that college freshman to make good decisions in their life? Aren’t we certain we would make much better decisions for them, based on our years of living and parental wisdom?

I wonder if the Lord feels the same way about us. He is beyond capable of directing our path and keeping us from harm. But much like our college freshman children, going away from home for the first time, we often don’t give Christ a chance to fill our lives with the fruits of the spirit. Only when we scrape our knees, or for our children they skip a class, flunk a test or overindulge at college kegger, do we both come to realize we are not as capable of making Godly decisions without his guidance and provision.

With time, I am finding it easier to easier to know that God will provide for Michael’s welfare and safety when away from me. He is the Lord’s child first and foremost.

My son is really precious to me. For you see I almost missed ever knowing him at all. Many of you know my childbirth story but some of you have not heard it. And it is a pivotal event in my life story. I hope I can get through it since my dear friend and sister in Christ, Sherrie Sitarik, is here tonight. Sherrie well remembers that day on August 7, 1996. Sherrie (then President of Arnold Palmer Hospital) sat with my husband Glenn, after Michael’s birth when things looked grim for my survival. You see no healthy first time Mom expects to give birth and wake up 13 hours later on life support with a hysterectomy.

With heartfelt gratitude I marvel at the miracle of what God provided to our family that day. A future, me being there for the first day of kindergarten, high school graduation, dropping him off at college and a lifetime of memories in between and hopefully beyond. God provided my good health and survival, something so easy to take for granted.

Christ turned that near tragedy into one of the greatest gifts of my life. He provided a dream job of working at Orlando Health where I can live out my desire to give back and serve others. When an organization and individual caregivers save your life, you feel a level of gratitude that is hard to express. God and I would add Sherrie and Kathy Swanson, provided me a second chapter career to feel passion again in my life and career. I have worked my entire adult life so my career and financial security has always been an area of high importance.

Maybe because I grew up in a solidly mid-class home where there were occasional financial concerns, I knew the meaning of a dollar and the delayed gratification of having something on layaway. By the way, who in the room remembers ever having something like a new outfit on layaway?

But the Lord has always provided richly, though not in my desired timing, especially during the economic downturn from 2009-2014. The real estate development jobs in Orlando virtually dried up during that period which impacted my husband’s career. Suddenly, I found myself as the sole breadwinner of our family. We had always been partners in providing for our family, and I found it extremely hard to trust God’s timing when job opportunities seemed within reach and then slipped away. This season of drought lasted 5 long, laborious years.

What God did provide during that time was clarity on what was really important. My teenager confided he was fine to stay home more, travel less and have more home cooked than restaurant meals. But where the Lord really impacted my attitude was when I was down on knees in despair that I didn’t know how long I could carry the financial burden. Just when I was about to give up, an absolute financial miracle would happen.

When the Orlando Health opportunity presented itself, my business partner at the time, in a handshake deal, provided me 15 times more than I expected for my stock purchase. It was the financial lifeblood we needed to bridge our shortfall. But Christ knew he needed to take me to the 2 minute warning in the fourth quarter, to recognize his hand in this miracle. Then I could say, I’m hearing you, Lord, because I was about to lose faith and fall into despair. But you had me covered the whole time.

Recognizing our shortcomings and natural instinct to sin and exert our will over God, helps us to identify areas of opportunities to grow. Even the disciples doubted Christ. And they were the group of followers anointed to follow him in his brief life on earth.

So if the chosen 12 can doubt and worry, I should forgive myself when I find myself going down a path of doubting his ability to provide exactly what I need, when I need it. I love Proverbs, and one of my favorite passages is Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” And then there is Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”.  When we doubt, when we reach the end of our ropes, verses like these have been my lifeline to hope.

Learning to trust the Lord to direct us in our lives takes trust and faith. A recent devotion really stuck with me when it differentiated the difference between facts and problems. We can identify a situation either as a problem or a fact, depending on our lens. Think of a problem as something that we have some power to influence, change, improve or solve. But think about that same situation as a fact, something that I have no control over, so why anguish about a fact?

Back to that college freshman, once I learned to but my trust in the Lord to direct my son’s path and to keep him safe, it was a freeing experience. The fact was my son lives 11 hours away in New Orleans. I can’t possibly influence his daily decisions or actions. Or at least I shouldn’t, I’d be one of those helicopter Moms! Though a work in progress, the Lord continues to take charge of my life and in trusting him to influence Michael; he helped me to transition in this new stage of life.

And trusting God to provide requires me to spend time with him each morning in study and prayer. It has had the single most positive impact in recent years and even months. Philippians 4:19 tells us, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”. Starting my day in quiet time, focused just on today, even journaling has expanded my faith. It has been uncanny how my “Jesus Calling” devotion would address my natural need to worry about direction instead of waiting on God to answer my prayers. Slowly, I have begun to shift this natural inclination to want to figure things out, influence the outcome.

Does anyone relate to this need to control outcomes? Do I have any A type personalities in the room? Yes, I thought so. Whether at work, at home with our spouse, our kids or in community activities, we do not pray in the Lord’s Prayer that OUR will is done – rather HIS will be done.

The Lord is capable to provide for all our needs if we only listen and obey. Glenn and I got married in 1996, I purposely took the word obey out of our wedding vows because this modern women was not looking to obey my husband. A bride at age 34, I wasn’t about to sign onto obeying my spouse. But the Lord does call on us to obey his word. And if we can only trust and obey his instruction, we can experience his Great Provide.

Do I have any Gator fans in the room? Anyone remember the scripture that Tim Tebow often had on his face? Philippians 4:13 – I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Now that is worth obeying and walking in God’s instruction for our lives. I need that type of strength at work and home. Trusting and loving God to provide for our needs brings real peace.

First Corinthians 13 tells us the greatest thing on earth is love. Love heals our hearts and hurts. Love can help us address pride and pain. Love helps to experience freedom in forgiveness. Using love as a barometer for our motives helps us flush out right from wrong. And love simply feels good. It feels good when love is in everything we do.

When we can make loving our Heavenly Father and all he has placed in our lives, our number one priority, we have the peace that he is more than capable to provide. God loves us enough to give us the desires of heart and make our plans succeed as he promises us in his Word. Love conquers all while God provides his Great Plan.

It has been a pleasure to serve on the J4Leaders board and I encourage you to get involved with these exceptional women. Your friendships can help you grow. I treasure the friends I’ve met through J4. God bless you all and goodnight.