Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I used to be so rich.

Back at the youth hostel that I gave up 9 months to serve God in, I learnt to rely wholly on God for food, and as a result it became a growing concern for me just where I was going to store it all. God had supplied me so abundantly that I found I literally couldn't even give it all away.

One afternoon I invited a penniless guy up to my room to offer him as much grub as he wanted. I really, really wish I'd photographed him. The expression on his face, the sheer joy in his eyes, he was almost crying. Yes, he actually was. "Look at me - I'm almost crying." he'd said. "I haven't eaten for a fortnight." Okay, that was probably an exaggeration. None the less, an hour later I was sitting in the internet cafe when he came up to me with a delicious bowl of hot mixed pasta that he'd made to give back to me. It was good to see the universe functioning properly, as it was designed to.

Time and again I'd tried to analyse God's provision - to turn it into an equasion that one could follow. A way of getting whatever one wanted out of Him. I'd come up with the following:

1. Pray.
2. Go without it. e.g. miss a few meals.
3. When it arrives, say thanks, and tell people.
4. Give it away to whoever else wants it.
5. Use it. NOW. Don't store it up for later fearing that you won't get more to replace it. Continue to have faith.

There's really only one thing that bothers me about these criteria. It's turning God into a science, isn't it? Science is all about the universe repeating itself. God never repeats Himself. He doesn't need to - He's infinite. Look at all the clouds. And the snowflakes. And the petals. And us. And all the days. (etc.)

When I eventually moved out of the hostel, I took a few items with me, but left most of my food mountain behind for the others in my room. I was relying on God, I certainly didn't need to fret about carrying it around with me everywhere. God would provide for me wherever I was.

After I'd left, room-mate #3 was under orders to clean up the room after me. He invited some of our friends in to take whatever food they wanted. Afterwards, he filled 3 entire rubbish sacks with food and chucked it all out. He told me this was easier than taking it downstairs to the Free Food shelf in the kitchen for the other 500 guests to benefit from.

Room-mate #3 is a great guy and a friend, but I felt disappointed by this. There was stuff in there that I'd been looking forward to, but had left behind for someone else to enjoy instead. Why was it easier to take those 3 sacks down to the rubbish, instead of taking them down to the Free Food shelf in the kitchen?

This morning, at the house that I'm now staying at, the milk ran out when my bowl of Weet-Bix, Just Right and Milo cereal was only halfway full. There was no more milk, and I had finished the powdered stuff that I had bought with me from ACB. It was time to turn the clock back and compensate with tap water again. This disappointed me too. Maybe it was a portent.

I had another problem. I was heading out to do some unpaid work today, and I would need some lunch. From where? God was everywhere, He would provide for me, wouldn't He? I had a long day ahead. After pitching-in on this project during the day, I would be heading straight onto New Windsor to do my voluntary radio show. Potentially, I might go the whole day without eating anything. So I found myself actually breaking-into the few items that I'd brought with me so long ago from the hostel. A packet of noodles and a Cup-A-Soup, plus an apple (given to me by Sam last Wednesday), and packed them away into my bag. If God didn't provide, I had a backup. Well, it wasn't really a backup, He'd just given me most of these things months ago. That, I reasoned, was his provision.

As I left, Mrs Korea thrust a plastic box of fried rice/vegetable mix into my hand, with a fork, for my lunch.

Extremely pleased about this, I got in the car. The place where I was going to just happened to be on Mr Korea's daily route. Handy.

At lunchtime, therefore, I now had a choice. The noodles that I'd been keeping since my departure from the hostel a month ago, or Mrs Korea's nice fresh mix. Well, no contest really. Except that it was. "Steve - listen - I brought some food in with me for your lunch."

Later I was sitting on the 487 bus to Downtown, when I suddenly realised that, as I'd got on, I'd accidentally bought a ticket.

"Stuff it," I thought, "I've wasted $3.60. After this bus I have to get 3 more. It would have been cheaper to have bought a Discovery Pass for 12 dollars." Well all right, I probably didn't think those exact words, but for the purposes of this incident's exposition, let's just pretend that I did.

I told the driver that I wanted to get a refund and buy the, from his perspective, more expensive Discovery Pass instead. He said he couldn't issue refunds. I sat back down again, disappointed in myself. Then a guy came up to me and gave me a pass.

"But you say that your girlfriend bought this pass, surely they're non-transferable," I protested. He insisted it was okay, as indeed did my next 2 bus drivers when I explained all of this to them.

My last bus driver worked for a different bus company, on which it wasn't valid after 7pm, but my conscience was clear.

And for dinner? I'd dropped back into the hostel and heated up the noodles that I'd got there last month, mixing in some bits and pieces that I found there today.

That Free Food shelf used to be bare when I first arrived last July. After I'd asked God, it, among other sources, had kept me in clover. Now that I'd left it was usually pretty well empty again.

Unlike me of course.

This morning I thought I was stuffed. Tonight I am.


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