I spent nearly four hours late this morning and early this afternoon on restaurant supply websites, scouring through posts of enormous colanders and mixing bowls, trying to decide if the 11 quart colander would really fit in my sink and if I would actually have anywhere to store it, wondering if I should get the 20 quart mixing bowl or the 30 quart. Yes, I really do use these huge pieces of equipment, because it cuts my cooking time down to a fraction if I can boil four pounds of pasta at once and have leftovers for two more meals. It saves immeasurable time to mix up the dry ingredients for 20 bread mixes or 6 pancake mixes all at one time. But it requires restaurant-sized equipment.
When I had finally picked the products I most needed, and found the website which offered them all at the lowest price with the lowest shipping, I hesitated. I had my enormous colander and mixing bowl all picked out, and had found some awesome deals on top-quality spoons and whisks at bulk pricing, but I glanced back at my kitchen, and my 12-year-old cookware set.
It was an eight-piece basic set I had received at my wedding shower. It wasn't top quality, but it had served us well. Twelve-years later the pans were warped, discolored, and had lost most of their non-stick coating. I didn't use these smaller pans often, but when I needed a saucepan to whisk-up a white sauce I did prefer not to find black flecks in my sauce. When I did need to fry a single gluten-free cheese sandwich, I wished the skillet wouldn't fuse to the bread… and the same when I made pancakes… and when I needed to brown a pound of ground beef… And I would have liked to be able to wash the dishes without wondering if that was food to scrub off the skillet or a coating to leave on. There were just times it would be nice to have cookware that made cooking less burdensome.
I got out my tape measure and wrote down the sizes, and I looked at the prices for similar saucepans and skillets on this website. They were a good quality, and a good price, but ultimately, still too expensive. While I was thinking about it, I looked at a few other sites. I thought about just replacing one or two pieces. I wondered. I wavered. But I decided, in the end, that it just wasn't responsible to purchase them right now. My old set still cooked food. What I really needed were the large items, and so I submitted the order, deciding to be content with what I had, and knowing that if I really needed them at some point, God would provide.
About 5 minutes later there was a loud knock on my front door. I opened it to see the UPS man disappearing back into his truck. On my porch sat an enormous brown box. My first thought was, "What in the world did my husband order this time?" But the label bore my name and the words, "Gift Inside."
The box was heavy, it took me a minute to get it inside. I had to fend off the children, all gathering around me like hungry wolves, and tell them that this was…apparently…my gift, though I couldn't imagine what in the world for. When I finally found some scissors, cut the tape, and lifted out the box within a box, I shook my head in disbelief. This was the box in my living room:
I have spent the rest of today trying to believe that that just happened. The friends who bought and sent this gift to me are dear friends who must have noticed I needed these. That's no miracle. It was pretty apparent. But you have to believe that I had not seriously considered replacing my cookware until today. I had never measured their sizes, decided which ones I would like, looked up their prices on the internet, and concluded that I couldn't afford them…until today. I hadn't consciously decided to be content with my cookware and wait for God's provision in that area until today. My friends did not know that, but God did. He knew it when they had the idea to give me this generous gift, he knew it when they ordered it, and when that box went out on the UPS truck this morning. And He had the UPS man drop it on my porch five minutes after I came to that decision.
When Jesus walked this earth he told us, "…your father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6:8)
This isn't about imagining a God who drops little goodies in our laps every time we do something right, or a God who exists to dole out wealth to the people with the most "faith." I believe God has provided so clearly in this area of my life, because it is so clearly needed to bear up under the weight of the dietary challenges he's given us.
This is a story about God providing for the children he has given me, with all of their complex issues, and continuing to strengthen my faith along the way.