I was happy to be a part of this group, learning what it means to follow Jesus, taking my first steps in my Christian walk, and yet as I read through my new NIV Bible, I was often confused and conflicted. Most of it didn’t make sense to me. Many of the Bible stories of the Old Testament seemed implausible and unrealistic, and so far away from my own life and circumstances. Many of the writings in the New Testament seemed to address issues that were relevant to me, and yet the conclusions often seemed vague and confusing. The Bible also took moral stands that were unpopular in Boulder in the post-hippie era, and I was confused about who I even was or what I even really believed. I needed help. What I really needed was discipleship.
Fortunately for me and a number of my college-aged friends, most of whom were also new believers, Christian Home Fellowship of Boulder had a youth group, hosted in the house of our new and dear friends Steve and Susan Brooks. On Sunday evenings we would ride our bikes out to Lafayette for some volleyball, popcorn and tea-juice, then sit in their living room and devour whatever teaching they had for us. When the formal youth group time was over, we’d usually hang around for hours asking questions and discussing the Scriptures and how they applied to our lives, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning.
CHFoB also had a weekly Bible study and I found myself in a study with another wonderful couple, Joe and Kathy Hart. The format was similar—I’d ride out to the Harts’ house and we would discuss the Bible, often late into the night. This was not a tenable situation for the Harts, however, since Joe started work early the next morning. Much to my delight, they decided to have me come out early on Tuesday nights and join them for dinner where we talked about the Lord and life before the Bible study started. This was a wonderful arrangement for me, combining my hunger for the Lord with my hunger for food. Looking back, though, I fear that perhaps I ate more than my fair share, even if was just potato soup they’d usually serve on Tuesday nights. The time around the table with the Hart family was priceless, and seeing a Christian family in action had a profound effect on my life.
Soon thereafter the Harts embarked on a new family mission, developing an outreach ministry they named International Family Missions. Their family of six spent over a year living in a one bedroom basement apartment on the Hill in Boulder, devoting all of their time to the development of this organization. You can read about that time here: http://walkingtogether.life/2018/06/26/the-dishes/. From my vantage point as a new and at times somewhat skeptical believer, this was an amazing step of faith and an incredible testimony to their belief that, while they were embarking on this work, God would take care of their every need. I didn’t quite believe this idea myself but was excited to see how it would “turn out,” and to see if Jesus really would “show up.” And He did, over and over again.
Since the Harts were now closer to the university, my friends and I would often swing by after classes to see how things were going. It was amazing to see Joe and Kathy, deep in the work of designing and planning IFM, continuing to raise and respond to the needs of their children, who, in a sense, were just along for the ride. The young boys needed to be played and wrestled with, the girls needed talk time and companionship, and everyone needed extra encouragement to thrive together in that tiny apartment. They also needed to be fed on a very regular basis. It’s one thing when a grown up decides to make sacrifices to do something special, like driving across the state, say, or pushing to finish something important for work. He can decide that he’s just going to push through and not stop for food, that he can eat when he gets there or the task is accomplished. It’s another thing altogether when you bring children into your plan. Children don’t see things that way, especially when they’re just victims along for the ride. It was just such a day when this story took place.
Before I go on, though, I need to introduce Tad Frost, a jolly believer who lived up the street from the Harts. (You can read more about Tad in the aforementioned story about the dishes.) Tad was another influential believer whom the Lord brought into my early Christian life. Before he came to know Jesus, he was a successful trial lawyer, had a million dollars, and drove a vintage Porsche. Now he was a humble Christian working at Colony Market in charge of the freezer aisle. Tad was a big man who seemed to know (and love) everybody in town, who would give you a big bear hug every time you met. He exuded the love and the joy of the Lord. He was another believer who trusted, even relied on, the Lord for all of his needs, physical and spiritual. Tad spent a fair amount of time at the Harts and I would often hang out with him there.
One day I rolled in a bit before dinner time. The place was bustling, everyone was busy with their own things, and little Ben, who was only three, was getting hungry. He began interrogating his mom about what—and more importantly, when—dinner was going to be. She assured him that dinner would come in good time. As Kathy bustled about the kitchen in fine Mom style, I noticed that there didn’t seem to be anything cooking for dinner. After a few minutes, I noticed that there didn’t seem to be anything with which to cook a dinner, either. I looked in the fridge, and as I recall, there were only condiments. I remember a bottle of ketchup looking very lonely on the shelf all by itself. I began to worry for Ben. What was this poor child going to eat? Did his mom really believe that she could make something out of nothing? Was she really being honest with him?
I brought the empty cupboards to Kathy’s attention, not quite believing that this family of six really had nothing to make for dinner. I was amazed at her response—”We’ll see what the Lord provides!” I was definitely going to stick around to see how this would turn out. It wasn’t just a morbid curiosity for me, either, a small but excited part of me actually believed that God was going to do something amazing, and when He did, I was going to be there to see it. I was genuinely excited to see what He would do.
A little later I asked Kathy where Joe was, and she joked that maybe he was out hunting for squirrel. This only added to my amazement, she really believed that God would provide. She was joking about their predicament! I don’t remember what our conversation was after that, though after a bit Tad showed up, jolly as ever. He was like a real, live Santa, only with a real beard and board shorts instead of the red suit. And, he had presents. To my utter amazement, Tad had grocery bags full of food and asked for help in unloading his truck. The Lord had provided! While hauling bags, Tad explained that one of the freezer units at the store had conked out and that its contents had gotten too warm to sell, but that the food was still perfectly good. He had no idea that he was fulfilling such a dire need for Ben, nor that he was the answer to just another daily need for Kathy, nor that he was performing what amounted to a miracle right before my eyes. And it wasn’t just regular groceries, either. It was meat, and steak! Not only had God provided, but he provided the best, in abundance, at just the right time. The Harts were going from nothing to steak for dinner! We all had a good laugh at God’s provision.
In the big scheme of things, God’s provision that day was a simple thing, it was just some food. Most wouldn’t consider what He did a miracle. It probably wasn’t the first time the Lord provided food for the Harts, and I know it wasn’t the last. But for me it was really profound, a story I recall with great fondness, an event that showed me that God really does love us and care for us, right down to the smallest detail. Not just that He provides things like groceries when we need to feed our families, but that He provides hope and encouragement when we need it most. Jesus didn’t have to “show up” that day in such an amazing way, but He did. I suppose it was His pleasure to provide the Harts with steak that night, and that it was also His pleasure to provide me with a lesson about trusting Him for everything.