January 14, 1992
The propane tank rental was due but I didn’t have the $50 necessary to avert repossession. I had been struggling to earn a living sewing and selling wildlife paintings so I could stay home to support my two small children. It was in this narrow place, a new Christian alone against threatening poverty, that God taught me a lesson I’ve never forgotten.
Prior to the propane tank crisis, I had realized my sinfulness and came to the Lord in humiliation. Mortified by some of the things I had done, I had a deep desire to please Him but I knew I could not earn eternal life — that is a gift. Grateful for it, along with the forgiveness He offered, I sought to become all He wanted and intended I should be.
He showed me His promise regarding the daily concerns of life: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. These things referred to food, clothing and other needs (not greeds). At that point, my luxuries were in a rather barren fridge, hanging in an nearly empty closet, and sitting out in the yard in a bullet-shaped silver fuel tank.
At this point, I’d not looked around and noticed there were other people prospering while I was not. Had I done that, I may have been angry at God and needed to read Psalms 37: “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way... for evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.”
Nevertheless, verse 16 of that Psalm was a truth God wanted me to learn: “The little that a righteous person has is better than the riches of many wicked.” I was learning to appreciate the simple necessities. Even though my meager income only allowed $7 a week for groceries, God saw fit to fill my freezer through the generosity of others who knew Him. He showed me I did not need to “be ashamed in the evil time, And in the days of famine I would be satisfied” (Psalms 37:19).
In the years since those tough early days of my Christian walk, I have seldom if ever worried about having enough. God taught that lesson well — and honored His promises. My husband was deeply in debt when we were married but we paid off that debt, by the grace of God. Later, when he became a Christian, God taught Him that if he would trust the Lord and be generous with what God had given, God would continue to meet every need. We have learned that we cannot out-give God. Whatever we do to help out someone in need, God pours in the supply.
Sometimes I have wondered if this abundance will last... and God always takes me back to the lesson. He supplies all our NEEDS, according to His riches. With the Psalmist, I can say, “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread” (37:25).
The principle of Matthew 6:33 is simple: As His children seek Him (not wealth), and seek His righteousness (not some exalted human goodness but the goodness that comes from a deep relationship with Jesus Christ), He will take care of all our needs (again, not greeds).
The propane tank? Shortly after the bill arrived so did a letter from a woman I had never met. She wanted me to paint a portrait of her dog and cat. Not an unusual request but what she included with her order was very unusual. It has never happened before or since. She sent what she thought would be an appropriate payment — in advance! The amount was $52.50, enough for the pressing needs — the tank rental, and a canvas on which to put the paint!