Sometimes I forget this verse. Sometimes I think the Bible is full of stories that happened long ago. And it is. Sometimes I wonder if those stories have anything to do with me or the things of today. It does.
If I ever needed proof of that, I witnessed it first hand last night.
I co-lead the Operation Christmas Child ministry at our church. This organization sends shoe-box packed gifts to children around the world. For many children, this is the first - and sometimes only - gift they may ever receive. Each box is packed with love and prayer and filled with small gifts. Before each box is shipped, a Gospel story is included so that kids all over the world (and their families) can hear about the love of Jesus.
All pictures from Operation Christmas Child's website.
So our little church in our little corner of the world tries to do our little part. We went all out this year. We had a "push" for the entire month of October. We had in-house videos, display tables, bulletin inserts, contests between the Sunday school classes to see who could bring in the most supplies. We had information at Trunk or Treat and announcements in the services.
Our goal: to beat last year's record of 315 boxes.
We give three options for donations: 1) Pack a box, 2) Donate loose supplies or 3) Donate money. With the loose supplies, we have a packing party and all the supplies turn into shoebox filled gifts.
After our month-long push, our packing party was last night. I went to the church yesterday afternoon to survey the situation and to see what we might need. (Usually we need extra soap, washclothes, toothpaste, socks, etc.)
I stood in our fellowship hall in shock. Our church has 3 locations. All supplies were being centralized within the last few days. I was expecting to see a mountain. Instead, I saw hardly anything. Hardy. Anything. Maybe an 8-foot table or two with supplies on them. Maybe 2 tables with packed shoeboxes, maybe 2-3 boxes high. And that was it. We had a whole fellowship hall to fill! 8-foot tables were set up end to end, probably close to 100 feet of table lengths. We were expecting to fill these tables with loose supplies like we did last year in order to have a successful packing party.
And I'm standing there staring at - well, almost an empty fellowship hall. I did what any sane person would do: I panicked.
I knew some money had been donated so I called the pastor and asked if I could spend $200. "No, hold off, we might need that for shipping." Shipping what?!? We hardly had anything! "Well, maybe pick up some socks, toothpaste, and soap, I do think we are short on those things. We've got to leave the rest to God."
But... But! We've got a crisis here! Last year we had more than 50 people show up for the packing party and we will be done packing in 5 minutes! Shouldn't I do something?!?
Leave the rest to God. Such a hard concept to grasp.
When I showed up at the packing party, a half hour before it was supposed to start, I couldn't believe my eyes. Every table was full. Every table was full!
"Where did all this come from?" I asked.
My co-lead and pastor had the same answers: "I don't know. We just started unpacking the bags that were on the tables and the tables just filled up."
"But we only had a handful of bags that only covered a table!"
"We know. Amazing, isn't it?"
If I hadn't witnessed it myself, I wouldn't believe it. Surely someone had bags of supplies hidden somewhere. Nope. The bags just turned into bottomless bags.
Luke 9:13-17 - Jesus said, 'You feed them.' "But we only have 5 loaves and 2 fish."... There were about 5,000 men there.... Jesus took the 5 loaves and 2 fish and blessed them. Then breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up 12 baskets of leftovers!
At the end of the night, we had almost 300 shoeboxes, fully packed with gifts. And at the end of the night, we even had leftover supplies. We even had leftover supplies!
Unbelievable. God's like that. He shows up and shows off. He doesn't just give us enough. He gives us more than enough.
And the monetary donations? Well, it all worked out perfectly. We have enough to cover shipping and some left over to get a few more boxes. Amazing.
Leave the rest to God. What an awesome philosophy! He definitely provides. No doubt.