It had been a prayer in passing, not one for which a person would expect an answer. Just a thought that gets sent heavenward while your mind is focused on the moment at hand.
But when a quiet knock sounded on my front door, little did I know how it would resonate in my heart.
The year was 1978, mid- or late August. Time seems to blur as weeks pile atop one another. But memories, especially ones where a tear is shed or guffaws are shared, hold a special place.
Back then, the the county fair was just around the bend. Prized vegetables would be earning blue ribbons.
To folks “green” to the Northwest, it seemed to be a promised land of sorts. One we — my husband and our two young daughters — had chosen on a “wing and a prayer.” The bounty of agriculture, and rivers that never ran dry had our little family thinking we had upped and moved to a place close to paradise.
In the California Mojave Desert where we’d lived, you rarely saw anything greener than Bermuda grass pushing up through hardpan. But growing lifetime friends had come easy in arid Barstow. Leaving them behind wasn’t easy, but our dream beckoned. Their prayers, hitched to the U-Haul with ours, followed us to Washington; a high school teaching position opening for husband Bill before the dust could settle from our drive north.
The answer to a big prayer — a job dropping into our lap when we’d left our hometown without a prospect — was what I’d come to expect from God. But the little items in my life, did he really care about those daily concerns?
Unexpectedly, I was about to find out.
Back then, our meager savings was thinner than a withered blade of grass on a hot day. Expenses from the move to Kennewick had been a stretch for our budget. First and last month’s rent, a cleaning deposit, the rental truck fee and a down payment on rural property added up to a hilltop we could barely see over.
On those few remaining days in August, the apartment cupboard was somewhat bare, but we’d make do. Then came “breaking news” one midday that put me in a state. Relatives were passing through town, a night’s stay on their agenda — and I figured dinner, too.
My wallet lay empty, only a few coins dropping from its pocket. One vehicle was refusing to budge, and our other car was with Bill out on the newly acquired property.
Rummaging through the fridge, I produced a pound of hamburger that could stretch with a lot of casserole noodles. But to fill a spot on their dinner plates, a green vegetable would make the meal feel complete.
I breathed a casual prayer, almost as an afterthought, as I mentally planned the evening’s menu.
“Lord, I need a green vegetable!” I said, my mind racing ahead to sprucing up our duplex before company arrived.
About 45 minutes later, I heard knocking. Surely, they couldn’t have arrived yet; there was at least an hour to spare! But when I turned the latch and opened the door wide, there stood the only friend we’d made after our recent move.
“I was out in the garden and I started thinking about you and felt like I should drop by,” Sandy said as she clutched what looked like a homegrown spacecraft.
There in her hands was the biggest zucchini I’d ever laid eyes on. And not only did this Pasco friend bring the huge vegetable, Sandy had fresh green beans, tomatoes and more in her car.
In that moment, I realized how God cares not only about our big worries, but also the little matters in our lives. And at the perfect time he answers, often far beyond what we could ever imagine.