“And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.
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That first year, when Calvary Marysvllle consisted first of just Dave, Zac and me, and then grew to include Mike Macy and his dog, Solo, and then Linc and Linda, their kids, a guy Mike met while selling ice cream from his truck, and a woman someone met in a park, we were living on a proverbial wing and a prayer.
Dave had left his job—one that gave us a nice comfortable living—to go to seminary. We lived on unemployment, the kindness of strangers, and any odd job Dave could get hired to do. And it was glorious.
I’ve learned that the most precious moments are usually those in which you have no way to help yourself, so the Helper arrives. The hole is bigger than you could ever fill, so He fills it for you. The bill is ten times larger than the shekels in your pocket, so God proves again that He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and your bill disappears.
When all those people started showing up for Tuesday night Bible study in our backyard, and I realized they were coming straight from work to do so, I began feeding them. At first, it was one crock pot of Cabbage Patch soup, one normal-looking salad, and an 8×8 pan of brownies. Before long, I was making two batches of Cabbage Patch soup—one in the crock pot, and one in my Grandma’s Dutch oven. The salad doubled, and dessert graduated to the 9×13 pan.
By the end of that summer, I was feeding 28 people every Tuesday night. It took every bit of my weekly food budget to do so, but we never told our small flock. That meal became a step of faith. We knew that in order for us to feed all those lovely people and still have food for the rest of the week, God would have to bring it to us. And He did, over and over.
“I was at Albertson’s and they had a two-for-one. Can you use a roast?” one would ask us, plopping down a 5-lb gift.
“I thought I’d bring some milk for Zac,” another would say. Yet another would hand me a block of cheese, saying there’d been a great sale on cheese that week. Sometimes a bag of groceries would be left in our car.
Every time someone handed us one of those gifts, I knew God was in it. And it thrilled me to watch how He kept providing just what we needed.
One Tuesday afternoon, while preparing for that night’s dinner, I started boiling some frosting for a sticky toffee cake I’d just set on the counter to cool. I only turned away from the stove for a half a minute, but it was a half a minute too long. The frosting burned, scorching the pot. I tried everything in my power to get all the burned gunk off the bottom—soaking, scrubbing, repeating. But nothing seemed to make a dent.
I tossed the pot in the garbage, and I clearly remember—23 years later—standing at the sink and laughing. “Well, Lord, that was my only pot with a lid. So something will have to happen by next Tuesday.”
I didn’t tell anyone about the ruined pot—not even Dave. Our friends ate the frosting-less sticky toffee cake with no complaints, and I saw no reason to tell on myself.
The following Sunday, we went out to the church we’d been attending on Camano Island. It’s about a 45 minute drive from our house, so we didn’t get back home until early afternoon. When we pulled in the driveway, I saw a gift-wrapped box sitting on the porch.
The card tucked under the ribbon read, “These things you do for other people have not gone unnoticed by the Lord.” And inside the box was a brand new Paul Revere pot … with a lid.
Dave was puzzled by why anyone would bring us such a specific gift, until I explained what had happened.
No one had known … except the only One who matters. I never found out who He prompted to drive to the store, pick out that very specific gift, write that card, and drop it all off on our porch. I wonder if they were laughing as they mounted our porch steps. “Why am I doing this?”
It had to feel great to be the secret giver. But oh, how wonderful it felt to be the recipient.
“Your Father knows that you need these things.”