I urgently pushed an empty shopping cart up and down the aisles of a giant craft store, desperate for inspiration.
My in-laws' fiftieth wedding anniversary was only five days away, but I wasn't in the mood to celebrate. My husband is an only child, so there were no siblings to share the responsibility of a reception. I panicked at my list of necessary food and decorations. How would we pay for everything on our limited budget?
Lord, please give me an idea for centerpieces that will be wonderful but cheap, I prayed silently.
From somewhere in my mind came the derisive thought, Just what makes you think God cares about your silly centerpieces? How are they of any eternal significance?
The black thought was similar to others I'd been having recently. Every prayer was edged in doubt and covered with second guesses. Reading my Bible was as stimulating as reading the dictionary. Often the words seemed to mock me. Just this morning I'd read "Thy house shall be filled with peace … "
My house was filled with everything but peace. Neither of my almost-grown sons was where I'd hoped to see them spiritually; a slowdown in our drilling business was building financial pressures. Fear, something I rarely faced, stretched the hours beyond midnight into sleepless eternities.
I continued with my daily devotions, but only out of discipline—not because it was something I wanted to do. And into the midst of this spiritual emptiness marched my in-laws' fiftieth anniversary.
The next day I yanked another shopping cart out of line and headed down the aisle of a different store. Only four days to go and still no ideas. I snatched up a jar of peanuts and wondered if it was, indeed, silly of me to ask for God's help with this reception. As I turned down the aisle of paper supplies a verse came to mind: "And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered" (Matt. 10:30). Following it came the thought, The number of hairs on your head has no eternal significance, but I care about that. It's okay to ask for help with centerpieces.
I looked up in surprise, delighted by these thoughts—and my eyes lit directly on a display of toilet paper. Toilet paper rolls! They could be my centerpieces! Grabbing several packages, my mind raced ahead of the cart as I flew toward the gift-wrap aisle. I picked out brightly colored tissue paper that I could gather up and loosely tie around the rolls, leaving the hole open to stick some greenery into. They would make festive, inexpensive centerpieces—and were certainly reusable! The perfect solution from a perfect God!
The next three days were a jumble of activity as we prepared for the reception. Just before the guests arrived I surveyed the large hall filled with gold balloons and sparkling centerpieces on all the tables.
"You really outdid yourself this time, Lord!" I chuckled. The peace he promised would fill my house now filtered through the room. If he cared about centerpieces, he certainly cared about my sons' spiritual growth and our finances, too. At last I was ready to celebrate. Let the party begin!
1998 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine. For reprint information call 630-260-6200 or e-mail email@example.com.