November 18, 2005

The Last Plate
on the Table

1546 page14 cap GAZED INTO our kitchen cupboard, knowing how Old Mother Hubbard in the nursery rhyme must have felt when she went to her cupboard. Ours was just as bare. As I shuddered over the dismal scene, my mind wandered back to the bleak day a few weeks before when my father came home from work with the discouraging announcement that he was to be laid off from a company that was nearly bankrupt. Day after day he trudged wearily from one place of employment to the next, hoping to find any kind of job, but with no success. As his hopes began to dwindle, so did the money from his unemployment checks, with the high cost of tuition for three children in church school and other bills he had acquired.

The stark white shelves brought my mind abruptly back to the reality of the moment. I ran my hand over the smooth surface and found nothing--not a bean, a handful of flour, or anything out of which to make a meal. Again I remembered just that very morning my mother coming to me with another discouraging announcement: ?Honey, we have enough food for breakfast and for lunch, but that is all. There won?t be anything left for supper.?

Even though I was a high-school-age girl, I had not yet developed a strong faith in God on my own. But I always knew that when my mother prayed, things happened! She never doubted the promises of her heavenly Father, or His love and care for her. I searched her face longingly for hope that I knew would be there as she stated emphatically, ?We will eat supper though, for God has promised in His Word that ?He will supply all our needs.?? What a relief! My mother believed.

I lightly went through the day with not too much concern, for I knew that the mail would come in the early afternoon, and everyone knows that God always works through the U.S. Postal Service! As I grinned with the same excitement a little child feels as they are about to open a present on Christmas morning, I flung open the mailbox door to receive the much-awaited letter I just knew would be there. My face quickly drooped like a flower in the hot summer sun. The only things that awaited my grasp were a pile of bills and advertisements--neither of which I wanted or needed. I was keenly aware of what this did to my faith, but would I be able to find comfort through my mother still? I didn?t have long to wait for the answer. My mother?s faithful response was ?Honey, God has a thousand ways to provide, of which we know nothing. He still has 900 and 99 more.?

1546 page14As if time were running backward the day wore on, and still no food or money was supplied. At 5:00 p.m. the dreaded hour arrived, and Mom called out to me from the other room, ?Could you please set the table for supper??

Fearing that my mom had suffered from a terrible memory lapse, I responded, ?Don?t you remember? There is nothing to eat.?

?Of course I remember,? she positively answered, ?but there will be.?

I, feeling like someone who had just escaped from a mental institution, began to obediently set the plates on the table. Before the last plate was set, I heard a knock on the front door. ?Well, hello, Mrs. Hitchcock. What can I do for you this evening?? I inquired of the woman standing at the door.

?Nothing,? was her response. ?It?s what I came to do for you.? Several months before, I had painted some posters for her for a nursing booth at camp meeting, and she had promised to pay me for them. But both she and I had totally forgotten about our agreement. ?I was sitting at home,? she stated, ?and I just remembered that I had forgotten to pay you for those posters months ago. So I thought I better hurry over and pay you right now while I?m thinking of it.?

We ate supper that night! We had enough money to last until my father got paid again. And it was not long after this that he found a job.

Many years had passed. Then one day the warm summer sun shone down upon me as I again ran my hand over a smooth surface. This time of the mahogany wood casket of my mother. As I bent to kiss the lid now tightly closed, I whispered softly, ?Goodnight, Mom, I?ll see you in the morning.?

Moments before, I had stood and faced the crowd of mourning relatives and friends who had gathered for her graveside service. I gave a tribute for my mother and her faith. I told the story of how God had supplied the supper. Peace and strength flooded my entire being. A comfort and calmness that could not be generated on my own were given directly to me from my heavenly Father without my mother?s faith to rely on. As was once said, ?God has no grandchildren; only children.? His promises flooded my mind like a river of life: ?Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives? (John 14:27, NIV). The faith that Jesus gives that brings that peace He gave to my mother, and He generously gave it to me. There are at least 3,573 promises in the word of God, and they are all for me. They cannot and they will not fail.

The miracles that have been done in my behalf are so many to tell. God is faithful to keep His word. Though sometimes I can?t see what God is doing, through the dark clouds I can see the loving hand of a heavenly Father working all things out for my good. Through all my experiences of life I can never say that God has ever let me down. There have been many exasperating times in my life when I?ve cried out in the depths of despair, ?Oh, where are You, God?? But He always comes through with the answer, ?Right here, my child, right beside you all the time.?

The trials have made me a stronger person, and have helped me look into the face of God for hope. Many times through my trials God makes me wait and wait, until the answer comes. Sometimes I don?t at all understand what God?s doing, but one day it was as if God said to me, ?Don?t worry; you haven?t put the last plate on the table yet.?

One day very soon I will sit at another supper table. It will be a heavenly banquet, with all of my parents beside me--my earthly mother and father, and my heavenly Father. And I will express gratitude, praise, and thankfulness for the thousand ways that He has provided.

Cheryl Davison writes from Angwin, California.