Thursday, August 16, 2012

{Share Your Food}

She pops through the arborvitae in the back yard where the kids are noisily jumping on the trampoline. Her eyes dance and her smile is eager, hopeful. "Can you play?"

They welcome her. "Come jump!" And a friendship begins.

The summer days pile one upon the other. All the while the girls slip back and forth between the bushes, each delighting in the magic of having a friend appear out of nowhere. As is frequently the case with children, sharing snacks quickly becomes a part of the friendship. They run to the back door and beg, and soon Popsicle juice is dribbling down little chins.

One day she lingers at the back door (her mother isn't comfortable yet with allowing her to come in) and hints that she hasn't really had lunch. She doesn't usually have lunch. My heart aches and I recall that which I've just read in Isaiah: "Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen . . . is it not to share your food with the hungry . . . ?"

Share your food.

It's an easy thing to do. But it seems too simple. I have been reading about women who adopted in Uganda and ministered to the homeless and I feel like I should be embarking on a huge mission. I am waiting and I am ready! I want to make a difference!

Share your food.

I whip up a peanut butter sandwich for our friend. From then on I look for opportunities to give. A plate of cookies passed beyond the bushes. Popsicles melting in the sunshine. Peanut butter sandwiches.

And then comes the day when she has permission to play inside. I'm making smoothies.  

Share your food.

I grab another glass and pull out another neon straw, and smile at the five children circled around the table. Often when they circle like this I take the time to read a Psalm. My mind is racing. What should I read? I have a perfect opportunity to share with our neighbor. I pray. I add strawberries and bananas to the blender and pray. Nothing comes. I'm discouraged. Nothing.

They guzzle down the smoothies and race off to play. And I don't get a chance to read. I don't share God's Word. I feel deflated and wonder what I should have done.  

Share your food. 

Moments later, I hear them gather in the living room. The voices become hushed, all but Bethie's. I can just make out the words from 1 Samuel: "Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd's bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine . . ." She pauses. "Remember that part! You'll hear about the stones again . . . ."

The story continues and my eyes fill with tears. That's why I couldn't come up with anything to read. The Lord wanted to use Bethie. My job, in that moment, was to share our food. But a child's voice, a child's understanding of what kind of story would interest a sweet eight-year-old, was what God chose for that time.

Days pass and we hear that our friend will be moving. I've connected with her and we've only just begun to share God's Word with this precious, heart-hungry child. It's too soon.

The family begins to pack up and the visits between the bushes are now even more treasured. We know they won't last much longer.

The last night comes. She says they must leave by a certain time and I wonder if they've lost their home. We've done so little.

Share your food.

I run into the house and scramble up to the loft where a basket of Little Golden Books sits. Sorting through the titles I find David and Goliath. I scramble back down and head out to where the kids are jumping their last jumps together on the trampoline. Her mama calls through the bushes. "Time to come home!"

We hug each other goodbye. I take our friend aside and hand her the book. "This is the same story that Bethie read to you the other day. I thought you'd like to keep it." She beams. "You can remember us when you read it, okay?" She takes the book and nods.

Bethie pipes in, "It's from the Bible!" Atta girl.

She disappears through the bushes, pigtails swinging. My prayer follows her. "Father, bless this child. Your Word is living and active and she's heard it. May it take root. Use it in her life, Father, and bring others alongside to tend the seed and nurture this precious young heart."

I pray again with the children as they drift off to sleep.

* * * * *

Jamie's been suggesting that we put a fridge out in the garage. I'm reluctant. One more thing to store, one more thing to clean.

I tell him about smoothies with our friend, about Bethie's faithfulness in sharing God's Word. And then I remember how it started.

Share your food.

He raises his eyebrows, cocks his head, and we both know what that means. We now have a fridge in the garage. 

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  1. Yes! How wonderful that God gave you such simple and small opportunities to plant seeds that can grow into magnificent fruit someday. I resonate so much with being ready and waiting... and not sure how this season of life and mommyhood and tight budgets fits into God's picture. So glad that He knows!

    1. Yes, Sara! It's easy to be distracted by what "other people" are doing and to somehow minimize what God can do through our own seasons. I'm glad He knows, too :).

  2. Julianna,

    I totally needed to hear this today. Especially the part about how little time we have to influence litte ones for Christ. I echo your prayer for a special little one in our lives.

    1. Thank you, Sharon. I know God is leading as you lovingly tend -- for however long that may be -- and that He will use your influence in mighty ways!

  3. Thank you for sharing this example of following the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit in ministering to the hungry heart of a hungry child. I hope that I notice similiar opportunities in my own life.

    1. Hi, Chanda! I'm learning that it is such a blessing to follow those promptings. I'm certainly not always faithful to listen and obey, but when I do . . . I never regret it. I know the Lord will delight to bless you with a spiritual perception as you lean on Him and listen with a willing heart. Thank you for sharing!



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