As you read this story, it’s not all it is. This story belongs to a bigger conversation but the rest will have to come in layers on other days. It’s just a single bite of pepperoni taken off a large supreme pizza. There’s so much more and this is not a good representation of the whole. But I have to start somewhere… so here it is: A taste. A layer. A glimpse. A foothill.
When I was young, my country had a financial recession. My parents were small business owners and had employees. During the recession Dad and Mum did everything they could to pay their team first and whatever was left, if anything, was for our family. My parents have amazing stories of miracle provision during that time. I remember several occasions when I came home from school to find a box of groceries on our doorstep. I watched my parents walk out their faith and trust in God. I watched them closely. And I saw the realness of God and His love and care.
About 20 years later, my husband and I enter a crazy season of life. Both our jobs ended due to the US financial crisis. My husband started working every odd job he could find. I was at home with our one-year-old and racked my brain to work out how to make money.
I didn’t find a way to make money but I did think of some practical things I could do to help reduce our living expenses. We trimmed our budget down to bare essentials. I worked out ways to cut costs everywhere. And I worked out how to ration our food. I went through the fridge, freezer and pantry and made a list of everything. I worked out we could eat for about three weeks without shopping except for some fresh items for our daughter. After our food ran out, I had no idea what we would do.
Several challenges came during those weeks. Some friends needed a place to stay and we fed them while they were here. Many friends popped by to show their support and I worked out some creative refreshments to serve. Then my husband’s family came for a weekend. His parents and his siblings and their families and dogs.
My husband had to be gone that weekend but he said he’d spoken with his family and explained our situation. He said he’d arranged with them to help with meals. We were to provide breakfast and they would take care of lunch. Ok. I could do that. We had lots of oatmeal and we had milk for the baby. Ok. I could do breakfast for everyone. I put on a happy face. I needed to ignore my fears of what the weeks ahead could hold. I had to choose to enjoy life.
Breakfast went well. I remember pushing aside fear as I scooped many cups of dried oats into the pot. I remember serving those bowls and choosing to give them with joy. I remember how quickly the food was eaten.
Then lunchtime came. My sister-in-law asked, “What is the plan for lunch?” My heart dropped. If only my husband was here and could say something to clear up the confusion. But he wasn’t. So I gathered my panicked thoughts and explained that we were in a difficult season. “Don’t worry,” she said. “Let’s look in your pantry. I’m sure we can find something that will work.”
It was a beautiful and encouraging thing for her to say. What she didn’t understand is I knew EXACTLY what was in the pantry. She grabbed somethings from the pantry and the freezer. I didn’t even have to look to know what she had. Dried pasta, canned tomatoes, frozen chicken breasts, and frozen veggies. That food was supposed to feed us for a whole week of dinners.
I excused myself, went to the privacy of my bathroom and cried. I cried and prayed and cried.
Then I felt God speak to me: “If it’s your food and you run out, it’s your problem. But if it’s My food and you run out, it’s My problem. How do you want to live?”
As a child I’d watched my parents walk this out but I was just an observer of that relationship journey. Now, it was my very own personal journey with God. The lack I felt as a child was being redeemed through the lack I was feeling as an adult. I had watched Him be Jehovah Jireh but know I was personally knowing the Lord my provider.
I pulled myself together, made lunch, and watched it be eaten by people who didn’t know its full value. Each second I had to push away my feelings of anxiety and choose to give with joy. I don’t know what my face looked like. I feel terrible for being such a poor host. I was not feeling very generous or hospitable. It was not my best day.
We cleaned up and the family got ready to leave. As we cleaned, the doorbell rang. Two dear ladies from church stood on my doorstep. They were carrying bags. Bags of groceries.
I was almost ashamed to accept that food. It was food I did not deserve to have. God had provided for us despite my fears and bad attitude. He gave me grace and mercy and love when I hadn’t been trusting Him at all.
As I said, this is just a small story that’s part of a much bigger story. This was just one of many stories of miracle provision. But it also stands on its own fairly well. A Standing Stone to remember God’s goodness.
“So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life — whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not. And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you? You have so little faith! So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day-to-day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (Matthew 6:25-34)
How about you? How has God led you to know Him more deeply? How has He shown you how to trust Him to provide? What are the stories of your Standing Stones?