A couple of weeks ago my pastor's wife brought her leftover produce from her farmer's market booth to church. She had a lot of corn and a gazillion big, crisp, beefsteak tomatoes. I ought to know by now to never 'shop' when I'm hungry, because I walked away from her pickup truck with about a bushel of tomatoes and an armload of corn - forgetting that we already had about an armload of corn in our freezer! This was right before we were gonna leave again for Chicago, and I knew I needed to do something with all these veggies or they would just go bad. So I made Tomato soup with the tomatoes and stuck the corn in the freezer.
So I started praying. Seems silly now - praying my tomato soup would be used! But I prayed anyway. It was that kind of day where I had too much to do and not enough time to do it in, and I really just didn't feel like having my hard work wasted. So I prayed that my soup would be used to bless someone - anyone! - and that it would all get eaten. And then mentally smacked myself for being so silly and petulant about my soup.
Well, within 15 minutes my husband called. He was helping our friends move, and let me tell you it was under very weird circumstances and much stress was experienced by all through that whole adventure. But he called and let me know that he was very aggravated with our friends' friends, because it felt to him as though they had only shown up to help move long enough to have earned their free piece of pizza and then left. No one had stayed for more than a couple of hours, and there was a full days work there. So he asked if it was ok if he stayed for the rest of the day to help, and if I could meet him there later so we could all get some decent food.
"I have a huge pot of tomato soup... want me to bring that for dinner?"
I also stopped by the Bosnian bakery and bought some fresh bread (fresh bosnian bread ought to be a candle scent !!!) and the Russian store and bought chocolates, cookies, and Kvas (a Russian malt-soda-drink) as my friend was Ukrainian, and she has ministered to me for years through wise words heard over the crunching of chocolate.
Their little one year old hadn't had much of an appetite that week, what with all of the stress of moving. But that day he wanted his OWN BOWL of soup and ate most of it all by himself!
They thanked us that day, their mother/-in-law thanked us several times. They sent us a thank you card, they thanked us on the phone, they thanked us on a blog post, they thanked us on a facebook status!!
Now my point isn't to brag on myself (altho if you walk away thinking I'm amazing I'm okay with that too ;-D) but simply to say that God used my petulant desires to bless others. I don't know how righteous or holy my prayer was when I sent an exasperated plea up to heaven among the steam of cooking onions and tomatoes, but still God used it.
My Korean room mate used to always chastise me with, "Rach-o-ya, you must PRAY more! God wants you to PRAY!" At that point in life I wanted to cry that I barely had enough time to eat and sleep, let alone pray! So you know what I would do, I would pray that God would help me pray! That He would help me make time to pray.
I've had lots of conversations in the last week or two with other women and girls who are struggling in various areas. And somewhere in the mix of words is, 'Well I just don't have time for church.' 'Well, I know my spiritual life is suffering too so that's not helping anything...' 'I know I need more godly friends but I just can't find any, ' or 'Christian people don't like me.' And I want to encourage you that God misses you. He sees through your excuses. He knows your schedule and your fears and your exhaustion, and He still misses you. Now I'm not one of those who thinks you ought to be in a church every time the doors are open - far from it. But I do think there is something essential when the Apostle Paul writes in Hebrews,
"And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other,and all the more as you see the day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:24-26)
We need prayer in our lives, we need other Believers - good wholesome people who love God and love us so that we can more joyfully serve God together. I've been burnt by the Church - belieeeeeeve you me! You have no idea how nasty some christian people have been towards me. And I have no idea how nasty some Christian people have been towards you. But don't punish God for someone else's mistake. And don't rob other believers of the joy of getting to know you because of another's sin. He cares about us. He cares enough to take a snarky prayer of mine and turn it into a blessing for me and three other families!!
God has blessed me with the ability to cook, which I always forget is a huge blessing to people - until I get the coupons in the mail and see that they are ONLY for packaged meals not ingredients, or walk into a grocery store and realize that most everything is pre-assembled and full of preservatives. Not that there is anything wrong about cooking or eating that way! There isn't. And I've certainly done my fair share of assembling and heating up from packages! But to taste a dish made of all real ingredients - that is a lovely experience. And its something very simple and actually usually quite inexpensive. But it requires TIME. Right now God has blessed me with the time and energy to do such things. What simple thing has He blessed you with? What simple thing can you give Him today that could change someone else's day?
Pray dear friend. Pray for God to show you today that He is Real, that He loves you, that He misses you. That He wants to use YOU not only to bless others but to bless YOU when you realize that He's used you!