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To Bean or Not To Bean

To Bean or Not To Bean

 

By Jane Horvath

I have had the opportunity, privilege really, to go on several mission trips. One trip was to a school in Jamaica where we were involved in their ongoing building program. Construction is not my forte. However, we were bringing most of our own food for the trip and cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for our group was part of our responsibility. Now, cooking for groups was an area of expertise for me!

Part of our planning responsibilities was making menus and gathering as much food and dry goods as we could prior to our trip. I reached out to the director of the food services at the school cafeteria associated with our church with the hope of getting some donations. The director was very helpful, but there was one problem: She wanted to donate a big, industrial-size can of baked beans. I HATE BAKED BEANS. I could not think of any reason why we should bring this giant can of beans. After all, probably many people felt the same way as I did, and it was going to be hot (really hot). Why would anyone want hot beans after working in the heat all day long? Moreover, do we really want people eating beans when we are sharing our bedrooms with up to six people?

Well, guess what? I did end up reluctantly bringing the can of beans. I was not planning on opening the can and cooking them. I figured I would leave them with the missionaries to dispose of as they saw fit — through their stomach or in the garbage. At least I did what I was supposed to do — bring the beans.

As we were unpacking the groceries, the missionary saw the beans and exclaimed, “Those are my favorite beans, and I have not had any in the five years since I have been here.” THAT was the reason I was supposed to bring the beans. Serving can be difficult in America, but it can be even more difficult in another country. Isolation and feeling as if God does not remember who you are can be a lie we hear and believe.

It was obvious God knew the missionary well and used a willing participant (the cafeteria director) and an unwilling participant (me) to bring His gift of love to this missionary. I do not think we ate the beans that week, I cannot remember. But I do remember being thankful that I brought the beans even though I did not want to do it. God knows exactly what can encourage us and often he uses us, willing or not, to encourage others.

Above All That I Could Ask or Think

Above All That I Could Ask or Think

 

By Jane Horvath

Ephesians 3:20 is a wonderful verse to memorize and pray back to God. It is a reminder of what God wants to do in our lives.

Many years ago, a small group of friends and I were treated to a weekend away in Charleston. This was a time in my life when the only way I could afford to visit Charleston was to travel down with a group early in the morning, spend the day, bring my own food rather than eating out and drive back the same day. We would share the cost of the gas and have an inexpensive, fun day. We used to joke about the fact that we could write a book about taking inexpensive vacations. We had the corner on doing just that.

However, this time we were able to stay two nights in a hotel and the cost of our meals was covered. In addition, our host had a boat and paid for the gas for the boat and provided snacks during the day. It was a wonderful, relaxing time.

One of my best memories from that trip was dinner on Saturday night. We went to a very nice restaurant in downtown Charleston. When I saw the prices, I gulped hard and wondered what I could possibly order that I could afford. Additionally, if our host was paying, I wanted to pick the least expensive item on the menu. Then our host said these words, “I want you to choose your meal from the left side of the menu rather than the right side.”

You may wonder about the significance of those words. I certainly had no idea what our host meant when he said it. Then he explained: He did not want us to choose our meal based on what it cost. He wanted us to pick out what we really wanted to eat, regardless of the cost. I had never had someone make such a generous offer.

Recently, God brought this memory back to my mind as I was preparing to pray about situations in my life and in the lives of my friends. I realized that I too often pray from “the right side of the menu.” I think about the requests we have and pray as if it is up to me to have to provide for the request. Consequently, I pray minimal (appetizer-sized) prayers. When God reminded me of this memory, He showed me that He wants me to pray from “the left side of the menu.” He wants me to remember that He can do far beyond what I’m able to ask or imagine. He also reminded me that “my God shall supply all my needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)