Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

It was almost 10 o’clock. Food Town (no finer place for sure) was just about to close, and I was a man on a mission. A mission for milk.

It was Saturday night, and that meant that if I didn’t buy milk now, then I couldn’t restock until Monday. I have no idea whether Food Town Howick opens on Sundays, but the point is that I don’t shop on them. One way or another I needed to buy some milk now.

And then I remembered…

Hang on a second… hadn’t I been in this situation before? That’s right – last year. I had been staying at the youth hostel on Queen Street, it was a Saturday, and I’d been about to stock up on food for the weekend when… I’d changed my mind. I’d decided to have faith in God to provide it instead. So I had deliberately gone into the weekend without enough food, and then God had provided it. And ever afterwards I had not needed to buy any more food, because it had always, incredibly, shown up – even when I’d been away travelling. Wherever I’d been, there had been free food there.

I stopped walking.

I stood motionless on the pavement.

What was I doing? Had I learnt nothing? Why did I no longer believe that God would provide for me?

I turned around and headed back to my flat.

What a fool I’d been. God had proved time and again that he would always come through and feed me. I didn’t want to go back to all that expensive shopping again. And anyway, tomorrow I was going to drop by and visit the youth hostel, so God could easily provide for me there again. For me… for… me.

I stopped again. The reason why I had been heading out tonight for milk had been for my flatmates David and Neil. Although I drink most of it, we all share each other’s milk. I could have faith that God would provide for me, but what of them? This really wasn’t fair. I’d drunk all their milk, and now here I was expecting God to replenish it, when He would probably do this just by getting them to go out to buy it instead. It wasn’t fair. This was my walk with God, not their’s.

I turned around and once more headed briskly towards the town centre. I was going to buy that milk. No I wasn’t.

I stopped again.

One time Mark and I had gone into a shop, bought a load of food, and then an hour later when we’d arrived at our destination we had found duplicates of everything healthy that we had just bought.

Then, while I’d been away with Jamie driving through the Coromandel, I’d given in again and we'd bought a load of food. When we’d arrived at a backpackers and just started cooking it, someone came in and offered us all the barbequed food they’d made way too much of. We’d stuffed ourselves – we never touched the stuff we’d cooked – it was too much.

On both occasions I’d failed to expect God to provide for others too. It was time to make things right.

I turned around and headed back towards my flat.

Then I stopped again.

God had taught me to put my security in Him, and now He had provided me with a financial income. Surely I should use the money He had provided to buy the milk, from the shop, in exactly the same way that everyone else did?

I stayed stopped.

But I needed to know. Was God expecting me to spend the money on milk, or would He rather that I still relied on Him for it? There was only one way to find out. I had to have faith, and see if He still provided for me. The only way to determine whether God wanted to support me through my monetary income, or through His divine providence, was to just go into the weekend with no milk and see what happened. I was going back to the flat. This weekend would confirm whether God wanted me to get into paying for things again.

But I still stayed stopped. Blast it, it was nearly 10 o’clock. Soon the decision would be made for me by whoever locked the supermarket’s doors.

And then it came to me.

“Thou shalt not test The LORD thy God.”

That was it.

I spun around and hurried back up the increasingly worn pavement towards Howick town centre, wondering whether my procrastination had allowed Food Town to shut up for the night.

It hadn’t.

Avoiding shop assistants who were pulling blinds down over the refrigeration units, I skipped quickly around the aisles, picking-up not just milk but bananas, biscuits, cereal and yoghurt.

At the check-out I realised that I’d forgotten my One Card, but the cashier kindly put the reductions through for me anyway. I’d also forgotten my handkerchief and asked for a tissue. She looked around, found a box and offered me one. I took two, in case, although I only in the end used one. I guess I only needed to take what was offered.

Back home I put the milk in the fridge, and flatmate David showed up, insisting that I have some waffles with him. I protested that the starch would just turn to fat when I slept, but he persuaded me, and even got me to agree to a second. I spread some marge and marmalade that I’d found at the hostel on them, and ate.

Then I realised what I’d just done. Or, more accurately, what had just been done for me.

As I inwardly chuckled, David, completely unaware of my moral dilemma, stood-up.

“Steve – would you like some ice-cream?”


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