Sunday, November 21, 2010

The boxes on the porch

. . . as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want . . . – 2 Corinthians 8:14 (RSV)

It was during our poor years that God taught me the formula for giving and receiving. God’s lessons, I find, often come when circumstances are lowest and there seems to be no way out – when I feel as though I’m at the bottom of a deep hole – and someone throws in a shovel.

The incident I am about to relate was during one of those “deep hole” times.
When I had my first child, I chose to be a stay-at-home mom and resigned from my full-time teaching job, giving up all that came with it – a healthy paycheck, benefits, seniority, job security. Although I knew it would be difficult financially, I believed that if we were doing the right thing, God would provide. I was clueless as to exactly how difficult it would really be.
After trying to live on one income – one that often provided a meager $100 a week for a family of three – my husband and I were exploring alternate sources of income that would allow me to stay home. At the time we were attempting to build a retail business that involved both selling product and recruiting others to sell.
Our cupboards were bare – literally. Our son ate “ketchup bread” – ketchup smeared sparingly on a slice of bread – as a snack. Peanut butter and jelly were luxuries we couldn’t afford. Meatless meals were standard fare, and chicken soup was on the menu more often than my husband cared for.
One Saturday evening the phone rang.
“You left something on your porch,” a voice told me before the line went dead.
I looked at my husband, puzzled.
“Did you leave anything on the porch?” I asked him.
“I don’t think so,” he responded.
We went downstairs – we had a second floor apartment at the time – and there on the porch, were three boxes of food! Among the cans and boxes were several packages of meat – Oh, blessed meat! I wanted to cry. I felt happy, relieved, grateful – and humbled.
That night was a turning point. We vowed that we would someday be in a position to help others. The following spring we planted a vegetable garden. I picked berries and learned to can and preserve food. Babysitting supplemented my husband’s income while allowing me to stay home with my son. Circumstances gradually improved. My husband eventually got a better-paying job. When the kids started school, I began to substitute teach.
Our three children are all grown and gone now, and we’re in the position to be the givers. It’s wonderful place to be, but I’ve learned that it’s just as important to be good receivers, too, accepting with humility and gratitude what is given in love.
We never found out who put the boxes on the porch that night, but they left us with more than a gift of food. They gave us hope and the desire to do for others what had been done for us – and that’s a gift money can’t buy.
Thank you, Lord, that I was needy and “less fortunate”— because through my need You taught me how to give. Amen.

Special-Tea: Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

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