This won’t be a long rant about miracles. It will be a short one to encourage you.
The other day, Elizabeth Webster and I were having a discussion about how God is speaking to us and we just need to listen. We’re all so busy talking that we drown out the important things He’s saying to us.
The conversation came about when we were going shopping for our Good Neighbor Meal. And, thus the miracle story.
This meal, sponsored by Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, with the funding coming from one of my friends, Mike Beer, had been scheduled for a year. Yes, an annual event. We had no idea that there would be a confused world-wide panic evolving around a virus when this was all put in play.
About two months ago I enlisted some other people, young leaders at the church, to come help and use this as a training ground. I knew my usual cast of helpers would be there, but I plan on retiring some day and wanted to get the wheels rolling on handing over some of these things. A month ago, I put out a notice on social media for my usual volunteers. The virus was just starting to ramp up, but nobody was insane quite yet.
I left for a two week vacation/meeting in Florida, planning on ordering the food when I got back. I’d had a menu of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, salad, and ice cream sundaes in mind for many months. I got back from Florida, made up the ingredients list, and kept it under the budget that Mike Beer had so generously donated.
I emailed the list to the church secretary, Elizabeth, and she was going to order it from Sam’s Club on the church card. No problemo, pick it up Friday at 7.
Well, the world spasm of insanity hit, and to top it all off, Elizabeth couldn’t get the Sam’s Club system to take the order. It wasn’t anything exotic, but it just wouldn’t go. I found out about it on Thursday evening. Okay, we’ll fly by the seat of our pants and go out Friday to get the stuff.
Friday, I decided that the joint would be empty when we got there, so I bolted from work after two hours, grabbed Elizabeth, and we made a provisioning run.
I needed three things on the list – the rest I could improvise. First item gone. Now it’s time for plan “B” and a quick shuffle. I parked her with the cart, zoomed to the alternative item, and since it was there we switched menus on the spot. I had the shopping list on my phone because we’d done it many times before.
Friday was different: most of the inexpensive brands we usually buy were gone. We had to go upscale, and it added almost 40% to the tab. So, one of my more expensive meals got really expensive fast. But we got all the supplies needed except bar towels – handy for wiping up spills – and dragged the supplies to the Good Neighbor Center.
After stowing them away, I took her back to the church, and went home to send out some broadcasts reminding people to stay home if they were sick, or had frail family members, and essentially begging my other volunteers to show up. Then I ate pizza.
Nine that night, my phone rings. It’s the building administrator. I’d called her while at the store to see if they had a couple of things already on hand – wanted to cut down my bloated budget. But she was busy at the time and got back to me later on.
Turns out, the ovens are broken. Oh, crap. But the stove top and grill are working fine – which is all I needed to do the new menu. The old menu? Couldn’t have pulled it off without the stove.
Saturday I got there extra early and got going. I had the first volunteer waiting outside when I arrived! Cha Cha, you were a sight for sore eyes.
Over the next four hours a core of my volunteers showed up. Some I would have seen otherwise didn’t show, but the others – God bless them.
Elizabeth, Minnie, Lucy, Mary, Billy, Cha Cha, Francesca, Bianca, Barbara, Gregory, Mike, Matt, Darrail, Suze, The Murphy Kids (minors, no names), Kip, George, Caroline (my onion queen), and a slew of others who I didn’t get a chance to talk to – and so names are missing. Sorry, I was focused on churning out food.
And, most of all, Pam. She runs the meals and allowed me to focus on cooking a good quality meal.
We served more people than usual, because as it says in Matthew 25:35 we are obligated to feed the hungry. They are scared, because the homeless and marginal are afraid that institutions will close down during the duration of this virus, and they will be left without. But we showed up and showed out.
Don’t let fear rule your life. Wash your hands, cover your cough, and don’t be a jerkwad. I think that covers it.
Oh, the miracle? Our order started failing at the time the stove failed. Nothing could make it go through. We got all but the last box of hamburgers, all but the last 2 packs of hamburger buns, and all of our key volunteers showed up.
If God wants something, He makes it happen. Ain’t no coincidences.
And, now, a picture of Chewy, because everyone likes dogs.