Soup On The Wrong Night

I know.

The corporate office here at Jedi Mama, Inc. has been a little quiet lately.  I have had a week where I didn’t feel incredibly fantastic, the boys have both had tremendously busy schedules the last few days, and the laundry will not stop piling up.  I swear, it goes into our walk-in closet to breed and reproduce, so that a family of four’s laundry pile faces the washing machine as a family of twenty-seven’s.

So today I’ll leave you with a chunk of writing that I did three years ago, when the director of a Christian mom’s group asked me to whip something out for their blog.  The topic was being obedient to God’s call.  This has been on my mind a lot lately… being obedient to what God asks us to do, even when what He asks you to do doesn’t fall within the boundaries of your comfort zone.  The truth of the matter is that I’ve decided if I feel like something needs done that I AM NOT comfortable with doing… it’s probably God giving me a little push from behind.

Anyway.

This is the simple retelling of how I chose to ignore a request of God over something as trivial (in my mind) as cooking a meal…

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The Bible is full of regular, everyday folks who heard the voice of God. They were usually quite busy, going about their everyday jobs like keeping wolves from eating their sheep, when God would single them out and say something profound that would end up being historical.

“Old age isnʼt an excuse, Noah. Get down to the local hardware store, because you really need to build this giant boat. If you Google the weather, youʼll see itʼs about to change.”

Those who were faithful and righteous were usually quick in their obedience, too.

My friend, Katie, hears God speak quite often. She once told me that the Lord had encouraged her to go on ahead and lay herself off work. As in, she was quite certain that her friend, Jesus, said, “Tell your boss youʼre laying yourself off from the company, and that you wonʼt be taking a paycheck from them any longer, while the company is struggling with some things.” Katie, being one who is quiet enough to know when itʼs the Lord speaking to her and when itʼs just a pesky mosquito buzzing in her ear, did just this. I was stunned. I would have argued relentlessly with Jesus and said, “Seriously? Lay myself off? Because you know thereʼs this thing called a mortgage, right? And you might not have to pay those in Heaven, but I have to pay it right now, and WHERE WILL THE MONEY FOR STARBUCKS COME FROM?” Iʼd like to say that my first instinct would have been faithful obedience, but I know myself. My first instinct would be to fight what I thought couldn’t be right.

Katie laid herself off work. She obeyed what she knew to be the voice of God.  In the end, Jesus showed off a little bit and worked everything out for the better. Things didnʼt go back to how they WERE before Katie obeyed – things catapulted themselves into being even better than they had been.

Even.  Better.

Thatʼs kind of Jesusʼ MO. His Method of Operation. How He does things.

But your heart has to be still enough to hear Him speak, and you have to understand that sometimes He asks people to do strange things. In the book of Judges, Gideon didnʼt think he was capable of fighting a massive army with 300 soldiers, but God asked him to do it, and he did. And through Gideonʼs obedience, the Lord shone through, and a small army conquered one that was believed to be unbeatable.

A few years ago, I had a strange request made of me. Iʼd like to say that I blindly jumped to do exactly as I was called to do, but I didnʼt.

My husband and I know a family. A few years ago, they were a young married couple with a pack of very young children. They had children of every age, it seemed, running all over the place. They had a little set of twin girls, who were still in diapers, who were the cutest things ever.  They had a couple of older boys, who were doing preschool and kindergarten.  And there was a little fellow who was just learning to crawl and pull himself up against the furniture.  The husband was very outgoing and friendly. He was easy to like, his sense of humor was incredible, and he was downright friendly. Although strikingly beautiful, his wife was the exact opposite. She was hard to get to know because she didnʼt talk much. When she did talk, her conversations were usually full of judgement toward others, and how her tribe of children were so much better than everyone elseʼs children. She was rude, she was unfriendly, and frankly, I wasnʼt interested in getting to know her very well, because she was quick to present a cold shoulder towards everyone she met. She always presented the feeling that she was much better than the world around her, so she couldnʼt be bothered to befriend those beneath her.

A few years ago, they bought a house and gutted it. They took that house down to the shell. They designed a floor plan for it, and they were going to turn it into something amazing. The husband was actually quite handy in the line of carpentry and construction, so he was doing the bulk of the work himself. His wife was helping, and somehow they were managing to get it all done while little kids ran wild everywhere…. and while they were actually LIVING in the house.

On one particularly cold, winter day, I woke up and my VERY FIRST thought of the day was that I needed to take dinner to this family. The usual list of reasons for bringing dinner to someone didnʼt apply here. They hadnʼt just delivered a new baby… no one close to them had recently died… no one was sick. And yet, all day long my heart was heavy with the thought that I was supposed to take them a meal for dinner that day.

But do you know what?

I didnʼt like the wife. There.  I said it out loud.  (Or rather, I TYPED IT out loud.  I’ve confessed my sin.)  She had never shown any kind of friendliness to me, or to anyone, really. She was snooty and aloof, and I figured that sheʼd be just fine cooking dinner for her many children that evening. I didnʼt WANT to take dinner to her.

Seriously.

I DID NOT.

WANT.

TO TAKE HER DINNER.

I made a big pot of soup in the crockpot for our familyʼs supper.

Iʼd look at it often throughout the day and feel like I was supposed to load that crockpot up and deliver it to them. I just shook my head, because NO WAY.

Our family ate the soup. Even though cooking is my least favorite domestic chore, Iʼll just go on record and say that this soup was FANTASTIC! Paula Deen would have stood up and applauded me wildly for it. Martha Stewart would have put her fingers in her mouth and whistled her approval.  I’m surprised that the Pioneer Woman hasn’t called me and asked to share the recipe on her cooking show.

The temperatures dipped well below zero that night, because WINTER IN SMALL TOWN, USA.  Temperatures fall like that here.

The next morning, I woke up again thinking about this family. My first thought of that day was, “I was supposed to make them dinner last night.”

LAST.

NIGHT.

So this is what I did. I huffed around my kitchen. I slammed a few measuring cups onto my counter top. I slammed cupboard doors. And in a state of angry irritation, I remade the same pot of soup, from scratch, and tossed it into my crockpot. My husband asked what I was doing. I growled, “Iʼm making soup for THAT FAMILY!” Late that afternoon, I loaded up the hot soup, and I drove to the house that they were doing an extensive remodel on. It was a ways out of town, and I had a hard time finding it in the dark, because I only had a GENERAL IDEA as to where it was.  But… I found it.

I knocked on their door.

Their kitchen didnʼt exist. Oh, there was a spot FOR the kitchen, but no kitchen was there. They were in the process of mudding the drywall in the kitchen area, because they had ripped out the existing kitchen completely. Their new stove and refrigerator were in giant boxes in their garage. Theyʼd finished a bathroom already, and it was beautiful. The tile work was amazing, and this was where they washed their dishes — right there in that bathroom sink. There was a microwave plugged into an outlet on the floor of where the living room would be. There was a dorm-sized refrigerator plugged in across the room. They had no tile or carpet on the floor; it was just subfloors, and the kids were using markers and Crayons to decorate it.  They had beds set up, hither and yon, for that pack of little kiddos to sleep in.

The wife approached me and said, “What are you doing out on a cold night like this?”

I smiled. “I just thought maybe yʼall could use some dinner, so I brought over a big pot of soup and a loaf of French bread.”

She took the soup from me and said, “I already have chili in our crockpot for dinner tonight. I donʼt know when weʼll get to this soup, but I’ll save it in the little fridge.” She walked off, set the pot of soup on the top of a cardboard box, and picked up a crying baby.

The husband came up to me and said, “Thank you for dinner. Wow! What a surprise. Itʼs really too bad you didnʼt show up LAST NIGHT with the soup! What was it? Six degrees below zero last night? The battery in our mini van died, and I didnʼt have any way to jump it last night, and our neighbors were gone. The kids were starving. Weʼd planned to just get burgers in town last night because that tiny, college-sized refrigerator doesn’t hold much at once and it was kind of empty, but we couldnʼt GET to town.  So… we fed the kids the packages of graham crackers and saltines that we had for their snacks earlier in the day. THAT was our dinner. Crazy, huh? And then this morning, our neighbors were back. I got the mini vanʼs battery jumped, and my wife went to town to get stuff to make chili. But man! Last nightʼs dinner was slim pickings!”

Cue the feeling inside of me of being hit in the gut with a sledgehammer.

Yes, God often speaks to plain, everyday people.

People like you and me, who are no Noahs or Abrahams or Marys.

But do you know what? His work wonʼt be as easily accomplished if those regular men and women donʼt take His instructions and obey them. I have no idea what would have happened, had I showed up with a crockpot of hot soup the night before. All I know is that this family saw an ill-timed meal brought to them. It didnʼt show up when they needed it most, because I wasnʼt obedient.  In my disobedience, I blew the chance to show them Jesus at the exact right time.  Their blessing didn’t happen, because I didn’t have it in my heart to believe that God was VERY SERIOUS about me making a meal the evening before I actually did.

And if I’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that WE BECOME BLESSED WHEN WE FIRST BLESS OTHERS.  And the other one thing that I’ve learned is that LIFE IS A LOT EASIER TO LIVE WHEN WE LET GOD LEAD US, AND WHEN WE GIVE A YES ANSWER TO WHAT HE ASKS US TO DO.

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Y’all have a great fall weekend!

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