My former pastorate was in one of the most densely-populated regions of New Jersey. Located along a busy state highway, the church saw its share of scammers who pretended to be poor and in need of money, clothing, and food, as well as many people who were genuinely and desperately in need.
One of our elders had brought more than a dozen pairs of boys’ weatherproof boots and heavy winter coats to the church if they were needed. Another church member had dropped off a girl’s winter coat and weatherproof boots. Lynne and I had every intention of transporting all the clothing to the nearby Salvation Army facility, but were delayed time after time.
It was just about the time that we had cleared our church and personal calendars that a high school guidance counselor stopped by. We were in the habit of bringing donated canned and boxed food to his office at the school for food-challenged students and their families, so it was a surprise to see him at the church.
“We’ve got some new students who are part of a rather large family who barely managed to escape from a Middle East war zone,” he said. “They have nothing but the clothes they were wearing when they were transported to the States. They don’t even have enough for food. Does your emergency food pantry happen to have anything right now that we could give to them?”
The counselor proceeded to tell us that the family included six boys and one girl, and that they were disappointed over not being able to attend school at the same time, since they had to share a single winter coat among the seven of them.
It happened that the stash of donated boots and coats were in the church office where all of us were speaking, but just out of the guidance counselor’s line of sight. It was Lynne who posed the question: “What sizes are needed?” The counselor fished a piece of paper out of his coat pocket; the clothing sizes were printed on it.
As he read the list, Lynne and I looked at each other in astonishment, realizing that what was in front of us was not nearly but exactly what would keep the six brothers and their sister warm and dry during the exceptionally cold winter.
After the school official had left, we began counting the ways our heavenly Father’s hand had guided the entire process of having the family’s need met: the church members’ donations; a delayed trip to the Salvation Army; the guidance counselor’s surprise visit; the exact size clothing for all seven children. But we shouldn’t have been surprised. After all,
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.