Several years ago, I read a passage that was particularly hard for me to apply, but God did something unforgettable to personalize the truth from his word just for me.
Early one morning, when I was a young pastor’s wife and a mom of three little ones, I was reading Matthew 6 where Jesus says:
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Right. Easy for him to say, I thought. I was tired of worrying and watching every penny. We had just bought a house we couldn’t really afford (this was in 2007 at the peak of the housing market bubble) and I was just tired of not having a lot. Our small church was wonderful, but a small church gives a small salary. I felt like we were seeking God first by being in the ministry, but that God wasn’t keeping up his end of the bargain. Instead of allowing this Scripture to draw me closer to God, I chose to harden my heart deeming the command of “do not worry” an impossible task.
I closed my Bible and my day got going. My first task of the day was to pick up my kid’s portraits from JC Penney’s. It was important to me to have pictures of my children growing up so I had used some change from the car to buy the $7.99 package and today was the day I was to pick up the portraits. I bundled everyone into the car and off we went.
When we arrived, I unfolded the double stroller, put the youngest two kids in and gave the oldest his instructions to hold onto the stroller and not to let go. He was used to the routine.
We wheeled into JC Penneys, finally, and the lady gave me the portrait package. Then she spread out the additional portraits they had printed out to entice you into more sales.
“Would you like to purchase these extra portraits? They are only $15 a piece!” she smiled sweetly.
“I don’t have fifteen dollars,” I snorted. “Thanks anyway.” My bitter heart was still focused on what I did not have.
Next, we stopped at the quarter-machine ride-on cars in the mall’s food court. The best part was that my kids didn’t know that you could put quarters in. They just climbed on them for some free fun.
After a while of climbing, I corralled them to a table and brought out our packed peanut butter and jelly lunches that I had brought from home. It was early for lunch, but we were hungry and the food court was mostly empty except for a few people scattered here and there.
After we bowed our heads to pray and thank God for our food, I lifted up my eyes and there was a woman standing next to our table. She held out her hand and pressed something into mine. She said, “Here. Take your family out for ice cream after lunch.” I was surprised and stunned and mumbled thank you as she turned and walked away. Then I looked down at what she had hastily given me.
It was money. The crumpled bills totaled exactly $15. The same amount I had just said that I didn’t have.
Through my tears I bit my sandwich and thanked the Lord! His words from Matthew 6 were true. God knows every detail of what we need and he can and will provide it even if we don’t see how it is humanly possible. We don’t need to worry. We are to seek first his kingdom. God will keep his promises—sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways.
When has God provided for you in an unexpected way? Please comment below and share your story.