Love is on the way

As soon as it was mentioned last winter, I knew I would be going.

This year instead of spending my final week of summer break preparing for the coming school year I would be heading to the south side of Chicago to do some inner city mission work. I would have to spend some time organizing my classroom a bit earlier than usual, but I thought I would be up to the challenge. After all, it was months away.

Fast forward to this past Sunday.

My daughter’s sweet family had just left on Friday after spending three wonderful weeks with us. Putting school work as far out of my mind as possible, I enjoyed every minute of their stay. I did manage to squeeze in a morning or two at school, but for the majority of the last month I chose to soak up family time like a thirsty sponge.

Now it was Sunday afternoon and the reality of what I had to get done in a week’s time began to bear down on me.

What had I been thinking?

I would not return home from Chicago until the Saturday before school began on Monday. Although Monday was a designated teacher day I knew it would be filled with meetings from the beginning and end with an introduction to my new students and their families at our Back to School Night. There would be no time on Monday for lesson planning or preparing materials for the open house.

Panic-stricken I began to melt like a sugar cube dropped in a tea cup. A few hours of work at school on Sunday afternoon had only intensified the pressure. I’d begun to realize there was NO WAY I was going to get everything ready for school and the mission trip. So I did what I always do when I am feeling completely overwhelmed.

I sat on the floor and cried.

And then I prayed.

Slowly, peace came.

Determination followed.

So now the words of Jude 1:2 from the Message Bible are resonating in my heart. “Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way.”

Joy fills my heart. The cavalry is coming! Love is on the way.

As the school year begins I will enter encouraged and prepared.

The mission work accomplished on the streets of Chicago will be a blessing.

No longer is there fear or worry in my heart.

His grace is sufficient.

Love is on the way.

More Than Enough

Like many young couples starting out, money was tight. Our two meager teacher’s salaries covered our bills, but not much else. There wasn’t money for an expensive honeymoon or extravagant house, but we were happy.

A few years later when I resigned my position to stay home with our growing family, finances began to get even more creative. Three little ones born in the span of four years meant what little extra money we had now went for diapers and baby necessities. My husband was still teaching, coaching every sport imaginable and working another part-time job. The dreaded task of managing our household expenses fell to me. Every time I sat down to pay the bills I wondered if there would be enough money in our checking account to cover the ominous stack of envelopes staring me down from the table.

One day an unexpected bill arrived in our mailbox. Had I been a really good money manager I would have known it was coming. But since I had gotten the job of Chief Financial Officer more or less by default, that was not the case. Frankly, my financial management style was similar to the method I used for weighing myself. I took a deep breath, blew all the air out of my lungs and then closed my eyes. When I opened them, I squinted slightly in hopes of seeing a better number. However, no amount of squinting could take away the fact that we didn’t have the money to pay this bill.

Interestingly, my Bible study during this time revolved around the Sermon on the Mount. I had just recently read the words in the sixth chapter of Matthew recording where Jesus told the crowds not to worry because God knew about their needs and would provide for them. I took that to heart and began praying about that big bill for which I didn’t have money to pay. I told Jesus that I trusted him to provide for us in whatever way he saw fit. I decided not to worry, but to trust.

Later in an inspired spurt of organization I decided to clean off my desk. Due to the enormous amount of time it would normally take, it was a job I had been putting off. However, the urge was so strong I decided to tackle it.

Soon I was filing and sorting papers, feeling an immense sense of accomplishment as the desk top began to clear. Just as I was finishing, I noticed a piece of paper sticking out at an odd angle from beside the desk. In all the shuffling it must have fallen and become wedged in the small place between the wall and the desk. When I pulled it out I realized that it was a check. And it was written for an amount that would more than pay the unexpected bill. God knew my need and He had provided more than enough.

It reminded me of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. John recorded that the crowds had followed Jesus into the hills because of the signs he had performed. Knowing there was no physical way to feed this hungry throng Jesus displayed his miraculous love by multiplying a boy’s five small barley loaves and two fish. When everyone had eaten and was satisfied the leftovers were collected. Twelve baskets remained. Jesus didn’t provide the bare minimum. There was an abundance. He always provides more than enough.

Many years have passed. Challenges have come and gone, but I have never forgotten that very concrete example of God’s provision in my life. His answers have not always come in the physical sense. I have never found another check tucked away in a nook in the wall. But very often in my spirit He whispers words of comfort and hope. His provision is constant and never-failing and His provision is always more than enough.