Over the holidays, after nearly three years of living in our snug little saltbox, I felt a sudden urgency to buy drapes for the three massive windows facing our back woods. Not only would they help retain heat in the cold, dark evenings and provide privacy from the squirrels and deer, they would make the battered old windows look better.
The only problem was money. Each window is eight-feet wide and five-feet tall. That’s a lot of curtains. Ringing in my mind was a conversation with a favorite uncle. “The difference between people who have enough and people who don’t is often 5 percent,” he said, explaining that people who are chronically short of cash tend to spend roughly 5 percent more than they earn vs. people who spend about 5 percent less than their income.
But how to spend less, when the cost of living – at least in my household – seems to perpetually outpace our income? When compared to the needs of five growing children, drapes were simply not a priority. Then I flipped through the December issue of Christianity Today and read about Jean Pierre Gatera, a 43-year-old Liberian immigrant (now living in Minneapolis) who works as a janitor at night so that he can study for a master’s degree by day – all while mentoring other immigrants and raising a family.
Even after fleeing bloodshed in his native Rwanda and living in Kakuma, a Kenyan refugee camp, for roughly two decades, Gatera remains convinced that God always provides for the needs of his children. “What has God put into your hands?” he’d asked other refugees, encouraging them to give part of their meager income to support people even poorer than themselves. And somehow they did.
“And God will generously provide all you need,” scripture says in II Corinthians 9:8-10 (NLT). “Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others… For God is the one who provides.”
If people living in a refugee camp could find the extra to give, how much more might I? So, rather than spending a couple hundred dollars on new drapes, I took Gatera’s challenge and asked God to show me what he’d already placed in my hands. In an under-bed box, I found enough fabric, that when pieced together with my grandmother’s antique lace, beautifully covered one window. Rummaging in the attic for a lamp, I discovered a pair of drapes that I’d inadvertently used as packing material. They perfectly fit the second window. And, by resewing a few old curtains, I’m in the process of recovering the third window – all for less than $15.
Even in these uncertain times, sometimes the difference between having enough and not having enough is re-discovering what God has already provided. And I knew my uncle would be proud.
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the award-winning memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. The Backward Easter Egg Hunt, the second book in her Lantern Hill Farm picture-book series, is available for preorder. Connect at www.meadowrue.com