Lessons Learned from a Chicken Bone

God teaches me things in some pretty strange ways, so it shouldn’t really surprise me that yesterday He used a chicken bone.  You see, I made a statement to someone that God could do amazing things in our lives far beyond what we would ever ask for or imagine. This is a true statement and I believe it with all my heart. But the person was going through some hard times and so they asked me, “If God can do that, why hasn’t He?”

This was a really good question that deserved a really good answer.  In fact, I started thinking that probably lots and lots of people have that question. “God can do anything, so why doesn’t he seem to be doing anything in my situation?”

An easy answer is “Patience.”  While patience is super hard to actually practice (at least for me) it is equally easy to say. And it often brings little comfort to those who have been sinking for a while. So I didn’t want to throw out the patience answer. I really wanted something better.

I prayed about it and then moved the question to the back of my mind while I moved on with my day.  At lunch, I reheated a chicken leg from the previous night’s dinner and had just sat down to enjoy it when the doorbell rang unexpectedly.  I set my plate down on the end table next to the chair where I was sitting and went to the door.

When I returned, my chicken was gone. Eaten by my dog that needs some serious training. My first thought?  “Ugg”

Next? “Stupid dog.”  There was no great revelation until I went to bed. Then, I bumped into God.

“Let’s talk about the chicken,” He said.

You see, the dog wanted that chicken. He wanted it badly.  And in his little dog mind, there was zero reason he shouldn’t have it. All that stood between him and a tasty meal was me. Why would I withhold something so magnificent from him?

And honestly, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with giving him chicken. But I knew that this chicken was on the bone and chicken bones are not good for dogs. In fact, they can be deadly.  So I knew what he did not, what he could not.

Not because he isn’t smart but because he is a dog and his capacity for knowledge and reasoning is more limited than mine.  No matter what dog school I sent him to – he would ever actually be able to understand. I could train him not to eat chicken but I could never explain to him why.

Then I got it. Not all, of it but at least a little hint at it. Let me start by saying I am not likening us to dogs. I am simply using that story because that is what God used to teach the lesson to me.  But sometimes, we want things. Those things seem good to us and try as we might we cannot find anything wrong with them. And in fact, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with them.

Sometimes we pray and pray for those things. These things may be material but more often they are not. They are things like peace, direction, rescue, or just answers.  And there is nothing wrong with those things or with asking for them. In fact, the Bible tells us to.

But sometimes there is a proverbial bone in what we want. We can’t see it because we are not all knowing, but God sees it because He is.  He isn’t denying us our request because He is mean, or ignoring us. He is saying no because He knows what we do not.  No matter how educated we are, no matter how long we have walked with the Lord, no matter how much Bible we know – we simply cannot understand.

Sometimes, buried deep within what looks and seems good to us – is a chicken bone. Maybe it is because we need to weep before we can truly appreciate laughter. Maybe it is because we need to master being alone before we can be together. Maybe it is because we need to be afraid so we can learn to be brave. Maybe we need to be poor to learn to be generous. I don’t know. That’s the whole point, we can’t know because we can’t see the bone beneath the beauty.

So….if you have been praying for something and begging for an answer but you feel unheard or forgotten; if you are questioning why a God who can do ANYTHING seems to be doing NOTHING maybe, just maybe, there is a chicken bone in your request.

Or maybe you just need to be patient.

 

 

 

Bumping into God – in the Grocery Store

I hate grocery shopping. No…I HATE grocery shopping. So today, when I found myself on the way to the grocery store I groaned down in my soul.  I grumbled a little on the way. As I walked through the aisles I moaned because for the first time in a long time I had to really watch what I spent.

You see, five years ago God placed me in the furnace. It was hot. I am not Shadrach. I survived, and it changed me, but wowzers it was hot in there.  Getting out of the furnace meant a pretty substantial cut in pay.  So our family is adjusting to life in a new state, a new home, new schools and new spending habits. Things are tight, much tighter than we are used to. So I walked around the store aware of that.

Eventually, as always happens because I am a terrible grocery shopper – I needed to leave. I didn’t care if I had what I needed, I just needed to be done. So I pushed my full cart to the front and got in line.  That was when I bumped into God, right there in the check-out line at the grocery store.

As I stood waiting, the woman in front of me unloaded the few things she had in her cart. I busied myself with putting the little plastic thing on the conveyor and starting the process of unloading my own cart. Then I heard it – I heard her say to the cashier, “I am not sure I have enough for that.”

I glanced up and noticed it was deodorant. The cashier said, “Let’s ring it up and see.” So she did. It was $1.47, which pushed the woman’s total bill over $50.  That was apparently more than she had. So she asked the cashier to remove the deodorant because she didn’t have enough and she needed the food more (her words, not mine).  My heart ached.  I looked in my bag for cash. I found it. I bought the woman deodorant because my heart longed to.

The woman was touched and she thanked me saying, “Thank you for blessing me in this way.” And I nearly cried.  It cost me $1.47 to show her the love of Christ but more importantly, she had it all wrong. The blessing was all mine.  The idea that every day that woman would use her deodorant and be reminded that God saw her standing there in that aisle and He rescued her gave me such joy.

But it wasn’t just that. God used that little moment to remind me that He has this. He sees us and He knows our needs. He knew that I would stand there behind that woman today and her need for deodorant would be taken care of, and my need for being reminded and reprimanded would also be taken care of with that one simple act.

He gently reminded me that I was being a baby. Yes, money is tighter than it used to be. So what? We aren’t going hungry. We have a warm bed, electricity, a full fridge and everyone is healthy. There are lots and lots of people who can’t say that.  I needed a reminder to get over myself. I needed a reminder of how amazing it makes you feel to help a stranger. I needed a reminder that God is sufficient for all my needs-even deodorant.  He’s got this.