There’s something uniquely offered in a big bubbling pot. The recipe doesn’t typically have to be perfect, you can always add a little more of this or that and one pot can serve a family of 4 or the last minute guests of 10. A bowl of soup says “You are welcomed. You are family”. It says “I’m not worried about appearances, I just want to invite you in; to commune with one another over this meal”.
We’ve had lots of bowls of soup since arriving in the United States. Although I’m sure the coolness of fall makes the bowl seem “just right” – today as I brought the spoon to mouth over leftover chicken veggie soup, I realized how much this meal represents our family’s existence right now.
Before leaving Kenya unexpectedly, one of Sam’s favorite books to read was the classic, Stone Soup. If you are unfamiliar with the story, it’s about some crafty newcomers who arrive to a town with empty hands and hungry stomachs. The clever new neighbors decide to make “stone soup” which draws the attention of the town and throughout the tale what started with stones and water becomes an aroma pleasing, belly filling soup created through the various donations of community members who realized they had something they could add to the soup after all!
In this season, sometimes I feel like these newcomers. Returning back “home” as a family of four with hastily packed suitcases intended to hold us together for a couple weeks, turned to months, makes me feel empty handed at times. You could say “Just hit up Target!” and believe me, it’s not that I haven’t visited that magical land that makes missionary women squeal, but I also want to spend intelligently. Why buy something I already have 3 of in Kenya? Do I really need 50 hair ties when I could save $1 and buy only 20? Will our supporters think me frivolous if I get a couple new shirts?
It may sound laughable to you, or you may resonate all too clearly with what I’m saying. The point is that our family is surviving off others right now. When we pray “Lord, give us our daily bread” we rely on literal results as my mother-in-law’s bread machine whirs itself into overtime and my mom’s kitchen timer dings alerting us to finished banana muffins. We ask people to pray with us for a vehicle and then WHAM-O! God prompts people to give us random financial gifts that pay for exactly the cost of a van that has been the source of great provision for our family. In September we entered this country with stones and you all have stepped in to make us the most delicious soup we could have asked for.
And as much as I’d like to make this a simple “I’m thankful for…” post, here’s the real deal: Today we received some medical bills. We knew they’d be coming. Jordan had to get a lot of tests done to clearly diagnose multiple sclerosis and it should be no shocker that American health care costs more than its Kenyan counterparts. But I was still sent whirling in defeat when my brain worked out the numbers and concluded to my anxious heart “Yikes, that’s a lot!”. But you see, that’s why I’m writing this today. To remind myself and whomever out there reads this of a truth I keep repeating. God provides. God has and always will be there. He’s proven His character loving and good more times than I can count and for me to think twice about medical bills only says that I don’t trust Him like I say I do. After all, it’s really just money, and all of it totally God’s.
So I write these words of soup and a season of life hard to accept. Of realities I think are true of most of us.
We like being the giver, and avoid being the receiver.
We like being a helper, and loathe feeling helpless.
We like the false sense of control, and find ourselves in frantic uproar when reality becomes clear.
We like to plan our tomorrows, and throw a 2-year old style tantrum when it doesn’t go “as planned”.
So again, I’m surrendering. I may have to do this very same thing tomorrow (maybe even in the next hour). I’m reminding myself and you out “there” of the power of soup. Sometimes God asks us to bring him our worthless stones with which He says “I’m so glad you’ve come” and then prompts His people to bring His stuff-entrusted to feed me. In these past two months on North American soil, our little family has been fed, nourished, and reminded of the greater Body. I’m asking that I would embrace God’s soup, His way of providing, like I saw my son slurp his lunch up in smiling, I’m-all-in, mentality.