We tend to think the stories of the Bible are A) just stories and B) stories that happened once a long time ago, but never again.
Nay, nay weary traveler. We either are not looking for God’s handiwork, not expecting God’s handiwork, or confused by our modern contexts. Either way? We are missing out. No bueno. I see it all the time. I can’t unsee it. I see it in people, places, powers… even broccoli (that’s a story for another day.) He is ALWAYS TEACHING, ALWAYS TELLING us more about Himself. We see His story unfold in the folding, feeding, menial, and mundane of life. And in the grand and great displays of His power. I find if I am always looking, He is always there, working and weaving threads of stories around me.
This very week, I ran to the caves like Elijah, killed a giant like David, and was tended to by none other than Mary of Bethany, who poured her worship out like oil from an alabaster box… of chicken sandwiches. I know. Sounds crazy, right? True, nonetheless.
This was the hardest, scariest, week of my life. And it came on the heels of the hardest, scariest, months and years of my life. In fact, it’s been a while since the Lord assigned me a task that wasn’t truly terrifying. Take this job. Quit this job. Go here. Leave there. Fight there. Surrender here. Say “yes” to unknown things. Enlist with undeveloped skills. Lord, Jesus. Where is the part I get to feel competent and qualified?!?! Lol. It’s not going to be for a while is it, Lord?
I understand. Independence and pride serve no purpose in Your Kingdom. Yes, my King. I still want to follow You. How may I obey today, Lord? FEAR NOT. FOR REAL. OUT LOUD.
This weekend I spoke at my first live event in almost 10 years. Now, I’m no sissy. I have stood in front of middle schoolers and wept over God’s Word as they sometimes marveled… but also sometimes slept. I have taught adults for years. That’s a way easier crowd. They nod, smile, and even make noise when something strikes a chord. Sharing or teaching at the occasional this and the once-in-a-while that. But this was different. This was strangers in a strange land… who paid money. To see me? More about that another day, but sufficed to say… “I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me (as did most within earshot) out of His holy ear… and sustained me.” And fed me. With His Word and Sandra of Bethany’s alabaster/tupperware box of goodies.
Not exactly the prophets of Baal or Jezebel’s wrath, but it was a sufficient setting to make me tremble. I am wildly confident in the Lord and foolish enough to say “Yes!” to fantastic feats. But I am also wise enough to know, if water is present… I am more than likely in over my head. This was a flood.
I did the first session and then promptly proceeded (read as RAN) to said cave. Now granted, my cave had charcuterie lovingly prepared by friends and family, a killer bathroom, and a fabulous view of Dallas. But still, eat, sleep, pray was all that could be done. I had suggested to my husband that we get in a car and drive to Vegas to start our lives over and never look back. He declined. He was leading worship for the same event and had too much gear to abandon. The good news is that Day 2 is Bible Stories, and they do all the work on their own, anyhow. What can you do but sleep, pray, and commit to showing up again the next day.
The next morning? Rise and shine, shepherd boy. You gonna harp in here? Or slay out there?
I chose slay. Or at least attempted slay, involuntary slay for sure! Thankfully, there were no Philistines or giants bandying about. Just lovely people. And fear, feelings of inadequacy, and insecurity the size of Big Tex at the fair. But in the dark night He reminded me. I don’t have to be amazing, just available. I don’t have to be brilliant, just obedient. He goes before. He makes ways. And He provides and sustains. I thought back to the chicken sandwiches, lovingly prepared for the road trip the day before.
Full disclosure, it’s Sandra of Cali… not Bethany. But close enough, right? Sandra called at the last minute and said she wanted to make dinner for us to take because we were leaving town late after a ballgame. Cool. Super sweet, right? Sure enough, our Lions won but the hour was late when we finally got away. I was never so thankful to find Sandra’s box of lovin’ loaves in the car. Out here in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere… there are no things. No waffles, no stations, nada. As we unpacked the bag, we found treasures. It wasn’t just snacks and it wasn’t just food. It was a feast. Y’all it was grilled chicken with bacon and cheese. Brioche buns. All the fixings… lettuce, tomato… stinkin’ avocado, people! Homemade cupcakes, utensils, plates, cups, snacks on snacks, on snacks! I don’t want to say it was better than Chick-Fil-A because I know the government listens in… (shhhh… but it was.) It wasn’t just a feast it was worship. And I know this because this kind of abundance was absolutely an overflow of the heart that had more to do with Sandra serving her King, then my family. We are just people, and this was just food to any other eyes. But I knew. This was ministry. This was obedience. Sandra listens. She obeys. She pours out lavishly at His feet. And if you’re lucky, it will splash on your toes too.
This wasn’t the first time Sandra had served us, for Him. Exactly a week prior, the Thursday before, Sandra brought a to-go bag of road snacks and everything one could possibly need to travel or teach. Meds, teas, cough drops, crunchy, savory… on and on. “You’re leaving today, Salty Lady! You’re going! You’ll need this to take with you.” I hugged her neck and laughed because she was a week early. But I warmed nonetheless, at the blessing of being thought of and encouraged by how the Lord provides through precious people.
Later that day I swooned as I inspected her delicate handmade card and teared up when I read the message, “I don’t have to know everything to pray for you and when God puts it on my heart to do something I always will. Glory to God, Christ be magnified as you go!” But I cried later that night when I reread the verse she enclosed, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you may go.” Joshua 1:9
Sandra didn’t know when she came by. And I didn’t even know when she left. I found out a few hours later when my husband called. Sandra of Cali brought food for a road trip that seemed a week early but was really right on time for a trip I didn’t yet know I would be making. Y’all, we are moving. “Wherever you go,” indeed.
I have no idea where we will live, go to school, etc… but I know my God sees my needs before I do. I know He dispatches worshippers to pour out encouragement and bring provisions for the journey. Even the trips we are unaware we are making. Are you kidding me? How great is our God?! Yesterday’s cave is today’s hotel suite. Yesterday’s perfumed oil of anointing is today’s Deluxe CBLT. Poured out by one willing, worshipping woman. From her alabaster box… of chicken sandwiches.
The cannon may be closed but the stories are still being told. If only we have eyes to see and appetite enough to seek and to savor. Taste. And see, my salty friends. THE LORD IS GOOD.