My wife Cathy and I were married in May of 1975, between my sophomore and junior year of Bible college. That summer we flew back to visit my parents in West Virginia so that they could meet Cathy. Before leaving our little apartment in Scotts Valley, California, I had secured a part time job at a local plastics factory. I wasn't supposed to start for a couple of weeks, so a trip to visit the folks seemed like a good idea, especially since they were paying the airfare.
When we got home I started work immediately at the factory, however, Cathy became terribly ill with the flu. To make matters worse, I wasn't due to get my first paycheck for about a week, and our cupboards were bare, except for an almost empty box of cornmeal. I remember thinking I wished we had some chicken noodle soup for Cathy, for I knew it would make her feel better. But the cornmeal was all we had. So I proceeded to make a pan of cornmeal bread. I burned it horribly. The last of our food and I ruined it. It was definitely one of those pathetic "What am I going to do, God?" moments. I'm the man of the house. My wife is sick. I'm a total failure. Some provider I turned out to be.
I went into our bedroom and gave Cathy the bad news. Then I did the sensible––and manly––thing: I prayed, asking God to help us. Cathy could do little more than nod her head as I said "in Jesus' name, amen." Little did we realize, but God had already answered our prayer, even before we prayed. I went to the front door on my way to work, and there on our doorstep were two bags full of groceries! I could scarcely believe my eyes. Inside one was a handwritten note that read: From a Christian brother.
It was amazing because we had told no one of our predicament. It was summer vacation so most of the students had gone home until the fall term. But someone––a Christian brother––was listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit that morning, prompting him to go to the market and buy groceries for Mike and Cathy Joens. They are in need. Thankfully, this brother was not only sensitive to the Spirit's prompting, but he acted upon it. Further, he purchased everything we needed: bread, milk, eggs, hamburger helper, bananas––the works. And wouldn't you know it, at the bottom of one of the bags was a box of Lipton's chicken noodle soup! I get weepy just thinking about it. What a wonderful God we serve.
We used up most of those two bags in a few days, and yet it was still a couple of days before I would get paid. Then, once again, as I was on my way out the front door to go to work, I found yet another bag of groceries on the doorstep! It replenished our dwindling supplies wonderfully. We never received a fourth bag––didn't need it. God supplied our need through a regular paycheck. What a loving, gracious lesson our Heavenly Father taught that young newlywed couple. Trust Me. I know your every need.
"Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matt 6:31-33).
p.s. We never did find out who the Christian brother was, though we made several inquires. But God knows who he is and will reward him on that glorious Day! Let us be careful then to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Not only listen, but to trust and obey!