We had something great happen the other day. God provided! He took care of something two of his kids needed in a super cool way. At first, it made us think of the concept of gleaning in the bible and how it can still apply today, but then as the day continued even bigger biblical lessons started to emerge - it was a character-building day at its finest!
It all started a couple of weeks ago, Thad and I parked our 44-foot, 20,000 lbs fifth-wheel in my Dad’s front yard. It seemed like a good decision at the time, a bit away from the house, and morning sun, but it turned out to be a really bad one in the end. It was a low spot in the yard and we got an unusual amount of rain in a short amount of time, so as you could guess things were getting a bit soggy. We had decided that after a few days of drying out, it would be a good idea to move it to higher ground so that it didn’t continue to sink. Well, we tried. No drying out was going to help. 20,000 lbs is a lot of weight! It was a disaster! The truck got stuck and the trailer dug huge ruts into the yard. The next day we called for help. With the assistance of an amazing neighbor, her huge Massey Ferguson tractor, and a long large tow strap everything was pulled out of the low spot and onto hard dry ground. But not without leaving an even bigger mess in my Dad’s yard. We had a mess on our hands. How were we going to fix that?
Not having a lot of tools, resources or connections it was going to be a tough and probably costly job to get it all filled in. We had explained to my dad what had happened and he came out to take a look. He didn’t seem too concerned about it getting fixed and thought it would sort itself out in time, but I felt it was our responsibility to get it fixed. Thad went out with a shovel and filled things in as best he could by squishing things back in place, but there were still big ruts and holes all over the lawn. Days went by and it was still weighing on me a bit about how we would be able to get it fixed before we left. Then on a Tuesday, exactly a week to the day that the mess was created, I was sitting in our RV and heard a noise. It was a dump truck dumping gravel and a grader. It was on the dirt road right out in front of my dad’s driveway!!! I went out to see what they were doing. The road had gotten a lot of washboard in it as you turned off the highway onto the dirt road my dad lives on, so they were fixing the road. I thought, maybe if they had some extra they would leave some. I approached the grader. He stopped and opened the door. “Hi,” I said. “Fixing the road”? with a smile. The operator explained what they were doing and why. I asked, “so if you happen to have a little extra, and it happened to make its way just in front of our driveway, we wouldn’t mind”. I pointed to the ruts in the yard and explained what happened. I didn’t care if it ended up looking pretty, I explained. I just didn’t want to leave bad ruts as my dad is in a wheelchair and when he is out in the yard he rides the riding lawn mower. I was concerned that the mower would get stuck in a rut or he would hit a big dip and potentially fall off. The operator said he lived up the road and knew my dad. He agreed that leaving the ruts would be of concern, so he said he would see what he could do. I thanked him and went back to the RV.
After a while, I didn’t hear the equipment anymore, so I went out to look to see if he was able to leave anything. He did! He left a lot! A strip about 75m long, 6 inches wide, and 4 inches deep! It wasn’t an obvious pile, just a nice long, inconspicuous strip - for gleaning!
In the bible, there are a couple of references to gleaning; Leviticus 19:9-10, Leviticus 23:22, and Deuteronomy 24:19-21. Essentially it's God saying to land owners of all that is mine that I have provided you with, ensure that you provide for others by leaving some of what you have for those that need it too so that they can come along and gather it for themselves. It was an opportunity for the poor or marginalized to be productive and contribute to their own well-being. It was God looking out for His kids, all his kids. But he didn’t say, harvest everything, take a portion down to where the widows live,
and leave it for them. The dump truck didn’t dump the gravel in our yard, the grader didn’t spread it out for us. He didn’t even leave a big easy to shovel pile in our driveway so it would be close.
How often have you missed out on blessings and God’s provision because it looks like work? Or have you ever been excited about something God has done in your life to very quickly become like the grumbling Israelites? That is what inspired this post! Grumbling!
I rushed back to the RV. Excitedly I said, “Thad, the guy left us a bunch of gravel so we can fill in the ruts!” We went to get some shovels from the garage and a wheelbarrow that was along the side of the house. We realized that the wheelbarrow’s wheel was flat, so we grabbed a pump and pumped it up, only to find out there was a big hole in the tube, and the air leaked right out! Shoveling dirt and hauling it with a wheelbarrow was going to be a lot of work and now it was going to be even harder, but we had to use what we had and that was it. I could tell Thad had gone from not very excited to really not excited. After a few loads, I could see that “I am not having fun” look. So I happily chirped “Isn’t this an awesome blessing babe! God provided for his kids!” To which he chuckled and responded “I am the grumbling Israelite with the broken wheelbarrow” I have been reading a lot from Genesis and Exodus, so the stories of the Israelites were fresh on my mind. I said, "I don't think that attitude worked out well for them” To which he laughed again. We were both pretty tired after many loads of gravel and Thad felt that we had gotten most of the big stuff, so he put the wheelbarrow away. I went out to the road to get one of the shovels. It was then that I noticed that there was still so much gravel that the grader operator had left for us and while the big holes were filled in, there were still areas that could be filled more. I was sore and tired, but the thought of God providing for his kids and them walking away, not accepting his full blessing just because they were tired or the work was hard; I couldn't do it. I thought if God provided, then he would also provide the strength, energy, motivation, encouragement, or just His peace to continue with an attitude of gratefulness. I couldn't use the wheelbarrow with the flat tire on my own, so I rummaged around the garage and found a bucket. I went back to the road, shoveled a few shovels of gravel in, and started walking back down the road, down the driveway, and onto the front yard. I dumped the bucked, packed the gravel in with my foot, and went back to the road.
This is going to take forever! I thought. “Or it's my way of looking out for your health and giving you a blessing and a workout”, said God. I chuckled, smiled, and changed my attitude. After several more bucketfuls, my energy was low. “I didn’t say it would be easy, but I will give you strength to keep going”, God said. My mind wandered to scriptures I have read and even memorized about provision. There are so, so many ways that God provides for his kids and so many reminders throughout scripture. I was filled with peace and new energy as I continued to shovel, walk, dump, pack and shovel more. After several more trips, everything was aching again, I just wanted to quit, but I was almost done and there was enough gravel left to finish the job. That's when I started to get a bit cranky and grumbly. Why couldn’t there have been a working wheelbarrow, why didn’t I plan better and take the dirt that was further away while I had more energy, why did I have to do this on my own, my dad didn’t even care, why should I… “Not much different than the Israelites are we now?”, said God. Didn’t take long to forget how much of a blessing this gravel was, did it?” It was a blessing! Not only did it solve a problem that we had created, but it also solved it in a way that there was no financial burden on us. It was then that it occurred that during the week we aren’t often home ( around the RV) at that time of day or for that length of time. The roadwork happened to occur on a day that we were home and at a time we didn’t have anything major planned, so we did have the time!! From there all sorts of provisions started to pile up. We were home, we had tools, we had time, we had the physical ability, and it was the perfect temperature for shoveling! We do have a good God!
I smiled, looked up, and noticed the warm autumn sun shining through the leaves on the trees as they lined either side of the road. I was still tired, and my muscles ached, but I smiled. God even gave me something beautiful to enjoy, to keep my mind on what is good while I work, I thought.
So what about you? What corners of your field or extra margins could you share? Are there resources, talents, time, or space that could be a blessing to others?
Are there blessings that you are missing or walk away from early because they are too much work?
God made lots of promises to his kids, but one thing he never promised us was that everything would just fall in our lap easily, or not require work. On the contrary! He purposely set his provisions up in a way that required something; work, faith, patience. He also left lessons and reminders; that there will be pitfalls, that we may be quick to forget. But if you are in The Word, plugged in, and know scripture, when your attitude, faith, or patience starts to slide God and His Word are there to help you get back on track.
I know personally that if I wasn’t in the word daily, this cool thing God did could have been missed or ended very differently. So that is my encouragement to you today. Reflect on the questions above. Dig into your bible. Read some of the scripture listed. Read about the Israelites. Share with us what is God putting on your heart about the provision He has and wants to provide for you!