Most of you know that my Dad is a minister. Anyone whose been a preacher's kid understands how it feels to have some sermons memorized. First you hear the short version at home during dinner. Then you hear the polished version on Sunday morning. If it's a good one, over the course of a child's life, you may hear that sermon several times.
One of my favorite illustrations from a "popular" sermon was about a lady during the great depression. Along with many of her friends she lost all she had in the stock market. Her husband had passed away many years before and she was all alone. She had a beautiful house, but because her stocks were gone - she had no income. She was getting desperate and saw her food depleting. She wrote an aunt who had not lost her money and asked for help. When the return letter finally arrived, there was no check or cash included. Instead it was just a letter telling her to have faith and to give to those around her. "Real faith isn't when you desperately pray or ask for help. Real faith is reaching out to those around you and then expecting God to take care of you."
Those words stung her heart. She threw the letter down and cried. How could this aunt say those things to her when she didn't know where her next meal would come from? She went to bed hungry.
The next day she was just about to eat her last piece of bread and her last piece of cheese when the doorbell rang. One of her neighbors was standing outside. "Please, do you have anything we could eat? My wife is very sick and neither of us have eaten for three days. I've been out looking for work or even just a little food and I can't go home without anything again. Please won't you help me?"
She thought for a moment about telling him how desperate things were for her, but instead she went to the kitchen - said a prayer - then wrapped the bread and cheese in wax paper. She returned to the door and gave it away.
Again she went to bed hungry and sure that she would starve to death. Stubbornly she prayed, "God, I don't understand. I'm not sure how all this will work out or how you can provide for me, but please help me."
The next day a letter came for her. It was from a share of stock that she thought her husband had sold. The letter included a dividend of $50.00. She restocked her shelves and then visited her neighbor with a bag of food. For the rest of the depression, she "gave" her way to provision. The more she shared with others, the more God provided for her.
I love that story. Not as some kind of test for God. Not as a bargain - I'll give this and you give me that. I love the story because it is a lesson in TRUST. How long can you hang on to your faith and trust that God will provide for you?
We received a Christmas miracle today. I thought it was going to be a low budget depression style Christmas. We didn't spend more than $12 - $15 on all the presents we gave. Several of the presents were things we hadn't used and therefore could be given to someone else. I know the deductible bills for Ron's accident will be more than we can handle with Ron's pay cut so it was important to spend as little as possible. I also have one bill for $600 that we didn't have the money to pay and it's due December 31st.
The first of the month I prayed and begged God to send the money I needed. Little by little a few unexpected payments rolled in. Unfortunately I was far from meeting my obligations. I started to get upset....but decided instead to force my way through this problem with "stubborn faith".
One morning I looked through tears at the sunrise. "I CHOOSE to believe that you will be there. I know that you will not let me down. I am working as hard as I can to do what you have called me to do and I will NOT be discouraged. I am TRUSTING that you will meet our needs."
It was even harder to continue to TRUST God when Ron fell. As we listened to the grim forecast for his recovery, I felt a wave of insecurity and doubt roll over me. I found a few minutes to pray. I clinched my fist and stubbornly repeated, "I KNOW you will provide and I will NOT give in to doubt."
Today we had a lovely Christmas, in fact it was probably one of the best we've had. We cherished our time together and laughed hard. We ate well and watch fun movies. We opened hand made presents and laughed at funny ones. And then....in the middle of being content with less....it happened. Ron and I opened a card and there it was....just enough to pay the bill. I cried, Ron cried, we all thanked God together.
What a joy and privilege it is to trust my loving heavenly father. What a joy it is to be his child and know that he will provide.
On this wonderful Christmas Day, I am praying that all you...my friends....will know the sweet comfort of TRUSTING God to provide for all your needs - not your wants - but your needs.
God loves you,