This is a guest post from our friend, LuAnn. She writes about her experience serving at The Table:
Last Thursday night, Sam and I had scheduled ourselves to take care of the meal at The Table. We went to GFS and shopped for the food. We became more stressed by the minute. What should we fix? Will it taste good? Will we have enough for 100 people? We decided on chicken mixed with vegetables, tater tots and a cookie for dessert. We weren’t sure about doing rice for that many.
So after stewing about the meal all day we thought – why do we do this? We always get stressed out and we just aren’t good at it. Maybe it’s time to STOP doing these meals.
We showed up at the church and were immediately met by several men who helped carry everything in. No effort on our part, except to pop the trunk door. We got inside and Larry got the oven on and Al & Larry started to plan what to do. Al decided that cooking the vegetables in big trays on the stove top was best. They added the spices and butter. Al decided to warm up the chicken pieces on the big griddle. “I love to cook on the griddle”, Al said. “I’ll do it.” The tater tots were placed on big trays in the oven.
Was God telling me something? Can you trust me enough to provide the help you need? Can you just shut up and cook? Maybe you’re just supposed to provide the meal.
During that meal, we had help from Al, Larry, Charlie, Tom and others. A dear sweet woman came into the kitchen and faithfully rolled up the silverware in napkins. It’s “her job”. Others bagged up chocolate that someone donated. Others clean up the tables.
People enjoyed the meal because it wasn’t something they normally get. We need to adjust it for the next time but many people were fed. Our job basically didn’t exist. We didn’t have to do much at all but help serve it. We had all the helpers we could possibly want.
Dishes were washed as we ate and dirty dishes were put in the dishwasher. What was the big deal, LuAnn? Why were you so worried? Can’t you just do things without complaining?
At the end of the night, Erich came in straight from working. He stopped to get food but didn’t like vegetables mixed with the chicken. He didn’t complain. He just went straight to the sink. You see he washes dishes for The Table. He said, “This is my home”. I’m still suffering guilt over his lack of a meal.
When we climbed in the car, barely doing anything for the night, Sam chuckled. I said, “Don’t say it. I got the message from God. I know you did.” We WON’T stop doing the meals. We have to remember this night. God taught us a huge lesson. Giving is what it’s all about.
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written, ‘He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” II Corinthians 9:6-11
The blessings have been given to Al, Erich, Tom, Mooney and Charlie. They don’t have much. They’ve lived under bridges and along train tracks. God, however, has given them the gift of giving – cheerfully and without thinking about it. They aren’t shooting for an award. They give because they want to. It’s who they are.
Did I learn anything from this meal? Yes, many things. I’m to give cheerfully, not under compulsion. I will have all I need if I trust God, even when we think we don’t have enough or don’t have the energy. I should learn to give with my whole heart because it’s the right thing to do. My harvest will be richer and bountiful if I give. I will be made rich in EVERY way and through my giving, thanks will be given to God.
I learned from those men that night. I came away feeling like I mean something and I know they mean something to me. How blessed I am to know them!
Dear God – Often I’m taught a lesson by people who aren’t trained preachers. I know those men love The Table and they would do anything to keep it going. I know that they are thankful for much more than I’m thankful for. I know it’s an honor to call them my friends. I know I am richer because I know them. Thank you for the privilege to give and increase my harvest. Amen.