Just as we began to see light at the end of the tunnel, we realized that between us and the light, was a deep cavernous pit called “support raising.” Many years earlier Bill and I committed ourselves to full-time service as global working candidates. Knowing it might be many years before it would become a reality in our lives, we headed out to do the things required of us. We accomplished task after task to reach our goals, however we soon found ourselves buried in medical bills from our son’s unfortunate headlong fall on the school playground as we finished the seminary years.

One morning I stood in the kitchen and asked the Lord if He was aware that His servants were stuck in a financial mess. The Lord would answer my question that very afternoon.

I needed groceries. With five mouths to feed, I went into our little kitchen to look one more time at the last box of macaroni and cheese. The refrigerator held little else. It was confirmed: this “Mother Hubbard” had an empty cupboard. “She” needed to get to the store as soon as possible.

With the children in tow, I set out for the grocery store. I had my favorite store memorized and purchased the same things each time I went. Two boxes of this, one of that, a bag of apples, spaghetti noodles, etc. As I waited in the checkout line it hit me. This store was a “cash only” store.   Searching my purse, I found last twenty dollars. I had a sick, terrible feeling.

I made my way back through the store aisle by aisle, putting items back on the shelves.

“Mommy, what are you doing? I like cheese crackers. Why are you putting them back?” Joanna inquired anxiously.

An older gentleman teased, “Aren’t you doing this backwards?”

As the other customers watched curiously, I put back several items including the broccoli, the spaghetti sauce, the yogurt, and the cottage cheese.

Our final twenty-dollar purchase barely filled two bags. Arriving home, I set them inside the front door to open the mail. Finding another disappointing reply to a request we had made of our medical insurance company, my eyes filled up with tears. I expressed my honest feelings to the Lord, “Don’t you know we’re doing all we can, Lord? Don’t you see us? How can we ever get to the field faced with one financial problem after another?”

The doorbell interrupted my prayer. At the door stood Deb, a friend from our church home group. In Chicago, a person rarely got a visit without a phone call first. She was apologetic.

“I’m sorry. Lori…I was at the grocery store this morning and I bought you a few things. I’ve never done this before.” She looked down at my two sacks of groceries sitting in the front entry. “You’ve already been to the store.” She paused, “Oh, I was so sure God wanted me to buy these for you.”

I blubbered a response, and soon she and I carried some bags of groceries from her car and set them down next to mine.

In Deb’s bags I found the cheese crackers, the broccoli, the spaghetti sauce, the cottage cheese and every single item (only nicer brands) that I had put back on the shelves just a half an hour before. There was not one duplicate of what I had finally purchased myself.

A wonderful feeling of delight shot through me. God knew us. He knew us intimately, and He had given us back what He knew we desired. After explaining my realization with Deb, we rejoiced together. She was doubly pleased that she had obeyed God’s prompting to shop for us that day.

Later that day another women from our home group stopped by with an anonymously given gift. He face glowed as she handed me the mysterious envelope and drove away. Inside I found $1000 in fifties, twenties, and hundred dollar bills. Incredible. But not so remarkable as earlier that day when God showed me that He knew us very well. He knew exactly what we needed and when we needed it. This was a necessary lesson to learn as we set out to raise our global working support—which became another story full of wonderful surprises for our entire family.


©2001 Thrive

View the original print magazine where this article was first published.