Ephesians 3:20 (ESV)
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
“There goes another burner,” the Mother sighed as she removed a saucepan from the stove.
Looking up from the current November 1957 copy of the Saturday Evening Post he was reading, her husband offered, “God will work something out, honey. We’ll pray about it.” he worked long, hot hours as a pipe fitter at the Lehigh Valley Railroad and came home spent every day from working outside in the sweltering, punishing heat. Raising seven children had not been easy and there had been many personal sacrifices.
The old stove had been there longer than anyone could remember and likely was purchased second hand. They weren’t blessed with state-of-the art kitchen appliances but they’d likely furnished an entire mansion in heaven with their good deeds and godly living. She would have cooked for her family on a bunsen burner if it meant she could donate more to her beloved church or to her many missionary acquaintances.
Her love of missions was legendary. She quietly dropped her wedding ring into the offering plate when the church was desperately raising money to dispatch a missionary to Africa? So compelling was her interest in missions that she and her husband dedicated one of their babies to serve God as a missionary to Africa. Sensibly, they never revealed their secret dedication to anyone including their daughter, who announced one day after graduating from high school that God had called her to prepare for missionary service in Africa. Norma served brilliantly with her husband in Africa for nearly 35 years and even then returned home only because of failing health.
But on this day, she was left with just one small burner and a working oven to prepare her meals. Buying a new stove was so far beyond the horizon of their financial landscape that they didn’t even entertain the idea. She prayed that God would show her what to do. She needed a good stove not only for her family but for the endless parade of visiting pastors and missionaries she lovingly entertained in our home.
The next day, walking to the downtown area, she saw a sign in an appliance store window announcing a drawing for a new kitchen stove.
“Why not?” she laughed to herself as she entered the store, speaking pleasantly to the owner. She dropped her entry into the large slotted box and finished her grocery shopping.
Quietly preparing dinner that night, she watched as the last burner on her stove died a sudden but not unexpected death.
“Well, that’s that,” she thought to herself, wondering how many canned vegetables in the pantry could be baked in the oven.
Suddenly, the phone rang, jarring her out of her reverie. she heard a male voice boom out with uncontained excitement, “Congratulations! You submitted the winning entry for a brand new, copper-colored 1957 GE built-in P7 Self-Cleaning Oven! Is it convenient for you to meet with me and a newspaper photographer here at the store tomorrow morning at ten o’clock?”
Stunned into near silence, she muttered through her tears, “Oh yes. Thank you very much!”
God chose not to provide a discarded but still-working stove which gathered dust in the garage of a relative or friend.
God didn’t direct her attention to the newspaper’s classified ads where she could buy a used stove with two working burners for $25.
And God didn’t ”heal” her worn-out, beyond-repair, aged stove that had served her family well for so many years.
Instead, God answered her prayer “largely.” He gave her one of the finest stoves on the market, a model she never could have afforded; indeed, she would easily have been content with a stove of lesser value.
In a drawing in which many women had filled out dozens and dozens of entry blanks over a three-month period, she had submitted only one entry.
After a photograph of her with her new stove appeared in the local newspaper, she received many phone calls of congratulations. Typically, the first thing she baked in her new oven was a steaming hot, juicy, latticed cherry pie for the manager and salesmen at the appliance store.
God had, indeed, “worked something out.” And God did it “exceedingly, abundantly above all that (they) could ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20)
Dear Lord, thank you that You work things out exceedingly and abundantly above anything we could ask for. Help us to trust everything to You today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.