Over the next week or so I want to offer a series of short pieces on abundance (this is the second, if you want, you can start by reading the first: In the Garden). All of these events occurred over the course of a few weeks. As these stories echoed around, bumping up against each other in the periphery of my life, it became clear that this was a message I needed to hear and hold onto. Maybe you do to? I would love to hear your stories of abundance if you have time to share!
* * * * * *
We all sit on the porch eating our ice cream cones on Sunday evening, the first day of our cardboard collection project. A neighbor has already dropped off two incredibly large boxes filled with cardboard in the less than 12 hours since we started the project, and yet, I worry. I worry that there won’t be enough. No one will put anything out for my kids to pick up. Their hearts will be crushed. The project I’d hoped would teach them (would teach me!) about the way God shows up and turns the little we have into more than enough will backfire and lead to difficult questions and disappointment.
I’m busy tending my own little garden full of the weeds of fear and doubt and failure in my heart, my head, when I notice a car pull up across the street. A woman gets out and pops the trunk of her car and proceeds to pull out enormous flat pieces of cardboard and pile them on the side of the road. Someone from within the house jogs out to help as we sit staring in disbelief. These are neighbors we don’t know, I don’t even know their names, but John had stopped by the day before with the kids to hand out our flyer and explain the project.
We sit and stare, mouths practically gaping, as they unload and we process what it means. We talk excitedly amongst ourselves, “Could it be? Is that card board meant for us? For our little project?” We look at each other and laughed at our bewilderment, at our excitement, at the wonder of it all.
We planted the seed of an idea God gave us and it sprouted in the imagination of our neighbor. Our neighbor remembered a friend with cardboard to spare. A phone call was made, a seed planted in someone else. Card board was loaded and keys placed in the ignition. And here we were to harvest a crop of abundance that we had neither watered nor tended.
And yet, when the kids went out a few hours later on their collection route, I paced the house in anxiety. Still not believing in the miracle of seeds and planting. Still not believing God’s strange math of multiplication whereby Elijah and a widow and her son can survive on a few drops of oil and flour, or a crowd of four thousand can eat and be filled from seven small loaves of bread.