(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Matthew 6:31 through 33 is our featured Scripture for this Gem:
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 [unbelievers] 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.
Yes, I believe that God will provide what we need, even if it is through miracles! Why? Because He has given Hope and me miracles just when we needed them! And, WOW! …we sure needed His miracles at that ‘Back to the Land’ time in our lives!
Jesus told His followers in Luke 17:6 (Contemporary English Version), “If you had faith no bigger than a tiny mustard seed, you could tell this mulberry tree to pull itself up, roots and all, and to plant itself in the ocean. And it would!” Was my faith that firm? NO! Often I would be so discouraged I would doubt the Lord, even being angry with Him, yelling in His face, “Why don’t You do something to help us?” I was surprised He didn’t zap me into ashes by a lightning bolt! But, remember my prayer when we first laid eyes on our 17-acre property: “God, I don’t care what You want! I want this property!” Oh, how dangerous that prayer was!
Even with my doubts and anger, God provided for us…………goats!
- Someone gave us two Saanan nanny goats, Frisky and Panda. Yes, the goats were a blessing! I fixed the roof on the shed/goat barn, built a stanchion platform, and every morning and evening, I milked Frisky, the older goat. God gave us milk when we couldn’t afford it!
- One sub-zero winter evening we walked down to the goat barn to milk Frisky, Hope carrying a barn lantern, and I the milking pail.
➔ We left our three-year-old daughter Bethany sleeping in the mobile home, guarded by our gentle miniature German Shepherd, Heidi. We would only be forty yards away with the goats for about half an hour, and if our daughter woke up, we didn’t want her to be alone. ➔ We finished milking Frisky and bedding down our goats for the night. Walking back to the mobile home we heard wood breaking and metal tearing! “What the...!” The front door to the mobile home collapsed inward! And through the doorless opening, a joyful Heidi bound- ed out to greet us! She had chewed through the inside wood of the door, and getting hold of a corner of the outside metal with her teeth, she pulled the whole mess inside the entryway! ➔ I scrambled to hunt up and install a temporary cover- ing for the ‘doorless’ doorway, since the temperature was already below zero and dropping! ➔ By the way, our daughter didn’t even wake up with all the racket going on!
- Panda, our younger nanny, came into heat. If we were going to milk her, she had to be bred. That, obviously, required a billy goat! And we didn’t have a billy, nor did we have the funds to have her bred to a stud billy.
➔ Earlier that winter a woman in our Faith Community Church family had a fire in her kitchen. We joined a crew of church folk who volunteered to help clean the mess that the smoke damage caused. When we told her we had two nannies, she replied that she had several goats. Then she said, “...when your nanny comes into heat, bring her down and we will get her together with my billy.” ➔ The next time Panda came into heat, I got ready to deliver her to a mating billy. I dressed in my usual fundraising sales clothes – a sports jacket and tie .........and loaded Panda in the front seat of my ‘63 Chrysler! I discovered Panda loved riding in the car! She would sit with her rump on the seat and put her hooves on the dash. And she would try to take in all the scenery, all the action, looking this way and that through the windshield! One man, driving a truck in the opposite direction, did a triple take and almost wrecked! I imagine he was thinking, “What an ugly wife that man has!” ➔ The breeding was not successful. So the woman lent us her young Alpine billy goat, named King Kong! He was about the age of a teenager – in goat years! ➔ The next time Panda came in heat, we brought her out to King Kong! Was he ever interested! But there was a problem: Saanans are large goats; Alpines are smaller. The Alpine billy was about half the size of our Saanan nanny! King Kong couldn’t reach her to do his mating job! ➔ So we built the little billy a ramp! Then we backed Panda up to the high end of the ramp for the services of King Kong! We felt like we were corrupting the morals of a young goat! It was hilarious to see the expressions on King Kong’s face! He would sniff our goat, then toss his head back with the biggest smile he could muster! But in the end, he got the job done! ➔ When Spring came, Panda delivered twin kids – Prince and Princess!
The goats roamed free on our farmette, but they stayed close to their goat shed and our living quarters. I would step out into the yard, and Frisky would see me. She would lower her head and charge – like she was going to butt me into the middle of next week! But about five feet from me, she would put on the brakes – all four legs digging into the ground! She would come to a stop eight inches from me, and lean into my thigh. She just wanted a scratch on her head and back!
When I would walk down to the mailbox at the end of our driveway, in a line behind me came Heidi, Frisky, Panda, Prince, and Princess, then two cats, Pickle and Cucumber! I felt like the Pied Piper of the animal world!
It broke our hearts when in May I was called to pastor West Lenox Baptist Church, and we had to let our goats go to a new home.
Back to that tough winter: Hope got a part-time job at Harmony Heart Camp, a Christian camp near us. She worked through the winter months in the camp kitchen, helping to feed various groups that came for weekend retreats. Knowing our struggles during that time, the camp directors gave Hope all the food left over from the retreats! We ate quite well that winter! Another miracle of God’s provision!
Sales were slow that winter season. I gave out samples to the leaders of groups who might raise funds using TV Time products. I even traded a couple of sample boxes for a slice or two of pizza or a sandwich for my lunch. I struggled to keep believing in myself, but I knew I had good products to offer people! So I pushed on.
- I remember a time later that winter when we needed about $700 to meet our financial obligations. I was reading a book by Oral Roberts called Miracle of Seed Faith – giving a tithe in advance, and expecting the Lord to bring in what we needed! I somehow scraped together an advance tithe of $70! I even took Hope’s grocery money! She was not happy! I don’t know how it happened, or even where some of it came from, but within about six weeks, $700 came in! Another miracle of God!
- My ‘63 Chrysler was wearing out! I knew I needed front tires and front-end work. But I wanted to know how bad the situation was. I stopped at an auto mechanics garage, and he put my car up on the rack to take a look at the situation. He said it would be a while, so I went next door to a large grocery store. Now, some people window shop for clothes or shoes. I window shop for food! I wandered to the meat counter. I was in need of something inexpensive for lunch sandwiches as I made my sales rounds.
➔ I saw they had steak on sale. I grumbled, “When was the last time i had steak? I can’t afford to have it at all!” ➔ Then I saw Italian sausage. I love Italian sausage! It was on sale, but I couldn’t afford that either! ➔ I settled for a half pound of baloney, and left the store, going back to the mechanic’s garage. He told me the bad news – a lot of work needed to be done on the front end for safe driving.......and the tires were so worn, they were almost bald! It was all far too expensive for me to consider!
- I drove to Harmony Heart Camp to pick up Hope. I was so down, I slumped in the seat, viewing the road just over the dash but under the top of the steering wheel! It had started to snow and the car slipped and slid as I drove. I didn’t care if I ran off the road! But I made it to the Camp, and Hope got in the car. We didn’t say a word to each other! Both of us were quite down! We made it home somehow with more slipping and sliding on the snowy roads. We barely made it up our snow-covered driveway.
- We silently trudged to the mobile home. A note was on the door: “There is a package for you in the truck. We put it there so the animals wouldn’t get it.” The old truck had sat on the property for some time.
- I went to the truck and retrieved the package. Inside the mobile home, at the kitchen table, I unwrapped the paper. Inside were steaks, sausage, and two pounds of hamburger! I held the three kinds of meat in my hands, and a verse of Scripture fairly exploded in my mind, Ephesians 3:20 – “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think….”
➔ I wasn’t asking God for anything at the grocery store! I wasn’t even politely thinking! I was grumbling! But God heard me! And He gave me what I was grumbling about ...........plus two pounds of hamburger! I guess that was the “...exceedingly abundantly...” part! Friends of ours had slaughtered a beef steer, and God laid on their hearts to give us some of the meat. They had no idea of the financial struggles through which we were going. ➔ As I held their gift in my hands, God spoke to me! It was an inner voice, but I could hear it plainly. And I knew it was the Lord! He said, “You see, My child, I will take care of you.”
That spring, when the ground thawed, we discovered that while the dug well remained dry, there were springs everywhere on the lawn surrounding the mobile home!
- One Sunday morning we were on our way to church. I was dressed as usual in my Sunday best. I stepped off the porch and sank through the grass halfway to my knees! I had stepped into a spring!
- I changed my trousers, and we drove to church. The temperature rose quite a bit by noon, and the sun thawed the ground. Our driveway was solid when we left for church. But when we returned, the car drove into another spring halfway up the driveway, and it sank to the axles!
We moved into West Lenox Baptist Church parsonage in May of 1977. We left that heavenly 17 acres – the place that at first seemed like heaven, but turned into hell! Hope and I were so glad to be rid of it!
I have tried to never again tell God,
“This is what I want!
I don’t care if You want it or not!”
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5, 6).