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mustard

The year after I was married me and my wife moved to a small city three hours away from where we grew up.This change was so I could go to seminary and she could become a hairstylist.  If I was ever to become a televangelist I needed someone to look after the up top. As newlyweds we believed we could survive on love and ambition.  We both had previously worked at a food processing plant and had a freezer stocked with hams and frozen french fries. Surviving on government grants and the pure naivety we pushed through. Those were some tough times. We did learn however how to make a bag of potatoes last two weeks as salad, dinner and desert. I laugh now as I think about going to the bank and withdrawing sixty cents so I could put gas in the car.

I honed my creativity in those years explaining away why the rent was late. Me and my wife would pray for and hope that God would provide for us in the many, many jams we found ourselves in. No one could accuse me of not having enough faith. Jesus said we only needed faith the size of a mustard seed and I had made so much mustard that our apartment smelled like a Jewish deli.  One desperate night I took a drive in the car and ended up at a bank machine.  I went inside and prayed that God would miraculously provide the money we needed in our account. Truthfully I wasn’t an idiot, several relatives had access to our accounts and occasionally put money in them and surprised us. I remember slowly putting my card in, and typing in my 4 digit code, waiting for a balance to appear….and to my unbelieving eyes….overdrawn. I was so desperate. I was so upset. I was so angry I pulled out my wallet and threw it against the wall. All my cards and i.d. flew all across the small glass enclosure. I slid down the wall and just cried. Sometimes you just need to cry. I cried until there was nothing left. As I was picking up my cards and about to put them back in my wallet I noticed they wouldn’t fit, there was something scrunched up in the back. I reached inside and pulled out the obstruction and couldn’t believe my eyes. There coming out of hibernation was a five dollar bill. It wasn’t enough to pay the rent. But looking back it didn’t need to be. It was enough to remind me that all was not lost. It was enough for that moment. With five bucks I could get gas, and a bag of potatoes.

I thought of that story as I sat beside my mother who was dying of cancer. I had prayed so hard that the Chemo would work, that a miracle would happen and I wouldn’t lose my mom. That was a dark night in my life. Once again the metaphorical rent was due and there just wasn’t enough. But once again, scrunched in the crevices of that night was a beautiful conversation that was enough-enough to remind me that all is not lost. I have come to learn to stop asking God for stuff. I don’t ask him for money any more when I am broke. I don’t ask him for health when I am sick. I have learned to ask for hope when I feel like giving up. I ask him for strength when I don’t feel I can go on. I ask for wisdom in making a big decision. I’ve learned that prayer is more about making mustard than buying mustard. Crushing up the seeds of faith and smearing them over my life. Every once in a while i do catch myself asking God for some Grey Poupon, and he wispers back ‘make some yourself’-so I keep talking and I do.

Aaron

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