Cast Your Bread upon the Waters
I have been going through the daunting task of selling my home. Literally, months of preparation have taken place. The house was suffering from years of neglect simply because financially things have been difficult for me, especially since my husband’s death six years ago. The interior was dark with dark brown doors on all of the rooms, a tired kitchen and gold and blue bathrooms. The exterior? Well, that is a long, complicated story. Suffice it to say, in this house every time I turned around, some new issue had reared its ugly head. But this is where I can truly say, God is in control.
For fifteen years I was a youth sponsor. I enjoyed the junior high group I worked with in Cincinnati. When I moved back to St. Louis I shifted to working with high school students. It was when I started working with youth at the First Christian Church of St. Ann that I became passionate about pouring into the lives of my students. They tugged at my heartstrings and I loved them. I shared life with them. Together, we laughed and cried and we had highs and lows. For the four years that I was privileged to be a part of their lives, we shared meals, did service projects, went to conferences, and did life—together. I am still in contact with many of them and I love watching their lives unfold and seeing them serving God. And that, is where my house comes in.
Last summer, we had a reunion at my house when one of my former students, Kevin, was here from Texas, where he is a minister. It was wonderful seeing them and catching up with their lives. We were talking about my decision to sell the house and the overwhelming task of getting it to a point to sell. I mentioned that I had purchased white, six-panel doors on sale but I couldn’t afford to pay someone to put them in. Some of the men from church had volunteered to install them, but they had sat in my garage for months. They were installed the very next week, by Craig and Steve, two of the young men in my former youth group—Craig had gone to construction school and he had the expertise needed to install the doors. Privately, I cried and thanked God for their help.
During a storm a few months ago, I had a limb fall on my fence in the back yard. I knew it would need to be removed, but had no idea how I was going to pay for it, but somewhere I needed to find the money because it had to come down. Kyle, one of my former youth now runs his own landscaping business. His brother, Kent, attends my church. I asked Kent for Kyle’s phone number and told him that I needed to have the limb removed. The next Saturday, Kent and Kyle showed up at my house and not only removed the offending limb, but also picked up sticks that had fallen off in the storm and removed all of the wood. When I asked how much I owed, the answer was “Nothing.” I cried—and thanked God, again.
I had to have a concrete patio mudjacked because it was sinking toward the foundation. After it was finished, I realized that the patio bricks on either side were now about 7-8 inches lower than the patio (it had sunk that much over the years). The neighbor who did the mudjacking (another story of blessing) said if I removed the patio blocks, he would bring in the fill dirt so that they would be level with the newly mudjacked patio. Overwhelmed by the thought that all of those patio blocks had to be removed and fill dirt had to be brought in, I had asked for help, but everyone I knew was busy with other obligations. I decided this was a job I would need to do myself, even though it would take me forever! I put on facebook that I would be moving patio blocks on Saturday. Saturday morning I received a text from one of my former youth group members, Cheryl, that her husband Mark (who owns a business that does brick walls and landscaping) would be willing to come and help. He not only helped, he did it all by himself. When he left, again I cried and thanked God for the blessing He had provided.
As Mark and I were talking, he mentioned that all we do for the kingdom of God does not come back void. It has been many, many years since I had the privilege of pouring my life into those kids, loving them and truly caring about their lives. And now, God has allowed those same students to pour their lives into mine in ways I never dreamed.
What about you? How are you investing your life? I did not share my life with those students thinking that someday they would help me. I just loved them. I am crying even as I write this article, thinking of the blessing that these students have brought to me. And, as Mark said yesterday, the glory belongs to God.
Ecclesiates 11:1-6 reads (ESV),
11 Cast your bread upon the waters,
for you will find it after many days.
2 Give a portion to seven, or even to eight,
for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.
3 If the clouds are full of rain,
they empty themselves on the earth,
and if a tree falls to the south or to the north,
in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.
4 He who observes the wind will not sow,
and he who regards the clouds will not reap.
5 As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb[a] of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.
6 In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.
This seed has been truly good.