Having run out of gas on an isolated road in Patty Canyon, I was not ready to try the “multiplication” experiment any time soon. In fact, with all the other things we were learning in the conferences that took place in our little church each weekend, I hadn’t given it another thought.
It was a marvelous time in the life of the church, as well as the lives of the constantly growing numbers of new Believers. It would have been “standing room only”, except that the newcomers were university students, well suited to sitting, cross-legged on floors. The aisles and periphery of the sanctuary were replete with tee shirts, ragged cut-off jeans and flip-flops. Each weekend our church was host to a key speaker in the new wave known as the “Jesus Movement.” I have no idea why these giants in the faith came, or how they found our little wooden-floor sanctuary in the mountain community, but we were all learning so much from them.
My one regret was that Curt could not sit in on the meetings. He was far away, continuing his officer training over much of the summer school break. His first letter home brought the exciting news that his bunkmate was a Navigator; they were memorizing Scriptures together. The Navigator’s is a marvelous program for university students and I couldn’t have picked a better bunkmate for my husband, even if the Army would have asked me! We would both have much to share when reunited!
The speaker for the long weekend conference was a man known as “Mr. Pentecost.” David du Plessis had even spoken with the Pope, discussing the Scriptures concerning the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The two men had a very amiable visit, the Pope sharing that his own nephew had first presented this to him a short time prior to the meeting with David. Now, this dear giant in the faith was coming to our own little church! The teaching was slated from morning through evening as this dear elderly man poured out to us what the Holy Spirit thought we should know right then.
Committed to practicing everything we were taught at the earliest opportunity, every Martha in the group decided to work on becoming a Mary. Yes, the assembled hoard of eager young people, and some not-so-young, needed to eat lunch, but why make it tons of work? We’d just serve hot dogs so we could stay for the entire session, rather than leave half-way through to prepare a meal. Attendees could mingle outside for the few moments it would take to get the tables and food ready. We had no idea just what our Lord had planned for us in that kitchen.
While those not scheduled for lunch service scrambled to get outside, the rest of us circled for prayer near the small kitchen. The unified Amen was like the breaking of a huddle on a football field, each member darting to her assigned task.
”Sojourner, could you come in here just a moment?” Mrs. P. looked at me with furrowed brow, the corners of her mouth turned down. Whatever could be distressing this normally ebullient lady? “Uh, where are the other bags of chips? I can only find this one sack?” Seeing the single bag of potato chips she held in one hand, an empty serving bowl in the other, I realized I’d made a slight error in my assignment.
“Oh no, I forgot to tell the other students to bring a sack of chips, too.” Now, we had seventy-nine cents worth of chips for greater than two hundred people, many of whom were hungry university men. Our church was located far from any grocery store. To keep the schedule on track, we didn’t have time to go in search of a dozen monster-sized bags of chips. “Well, only one thing left to do, right? We pray for multiplication like the loaves and fishes?” My uncertainty was mirrored on the puzzled faces of the few ladies Mrs. P grabbed to come inside the kitchen to pray.
“No time to explain; just listen and agree with the prayer, ladies.” She nodded for me to begin.
“Lord, uh, I messed up here so no one else brought any chips.” A noticeable gasp escaped the lips of each lady in the circle. “I’m sorry I didn’t pay better attention to my job but, Lord, could you help us out here, please?” The hands holding mine squeezed a little encouragement for me to continue. “We need a multiplication of the chips. We’d counted on those chips to fill up the guys. There’s enough hotdogs for a bit more than 200 but, you know the guys; they can eat a lot. We really need those chips, please. Thanks, God. Amen.”
“Okay, ladies, back to your job. We’ve got a lunch to serve out there.” Each lady responded to Mrs. P’s clapping hands, rushing back to their tasks. The leader touched my shoulder. “It’ll be okay. If we don’t get more chips, we didn’t need them. Put this bowl out on the speaker’s table first.” Mrs. P. was already pouring the chips in the bowl she had taken up again.
When I returned to the kitchen, Mrs. P was still pouring chips. “This might be it; the bag is nearly empty. I took a peek and, sure enough, there was about an inch of chips in the bottom.
Each time I returned to the kitchen, the grin on Mrs. P.’s face widened, growing with the anticipation. Full bowls of chips waited for pick-up nearby, an inch still left in the bottom of the bag. The solitary bag was empty, completely, after all had eaten.
What a thrill to have God’s multiplication miracle in our own church kitchen!
Voila! The Part B of the Multiplication Lesson…genuine need. In the case of the empty gas tank, I’d decided to make a trip I had no reason to make. A drive through Patty Canyon was not necessary. If it had been, though, I had money in my pocket to pay for enough gasoline to make the trip without any problem. In short, I was not trying to practice a principle in my life in conjunction with the teaching from the pulpit; but, rather, I was testing God, which is really not a good idea. Fortunately, in His mercy, God the Father understood and got us out of the mess I’d driven us into that day.
On the other hand, the potato chips were a real need in order to keep things running along smoothly. Even if I could get all the kids to cough up their seventy-nine cents for the chips, there simply was no time to go find them for that meal. The need for the miracle was genuine and the God of all mercy responded. God not only smoothed over the turbulence my mistake had made in providing the chips Himself, but gave us all a miracle of multiplication to remind us of His mercy and understanding of the situation. How grateful I am that God understands and doesn’t condemn me when I mess up! It is good to remember that we are always His children, regardless of the number of years we have sojourned on this earth. God wants to help us and knows just how best to do that! God wants us to learn the lessons of the Bible and understands how best to help us learn to practice the principles. God is a tremendously resourceful, creative Teacher Who delights in seeing us succeed.
If you missed Multiplication Lesson: Part A, just click on this link to begin:
To learn more about David du Plessis or to listen to some of his recorded teaching, check out this link:
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