Vegetable bins and the faithfulness of God

Forty-seven years ago today I scratched my initials on the vegetable bin of Granddad and Grandma Smith.  I have a couple of memories associated with the occasion.  The first was thinking how neat it was to be able to carve my initials along side those of other people in our extended family.  And the second memory was the surprise at being allowed to carve on a piece of “furniture” and not get in trouble.

Today I think about this vegetable bin and I regard it as a witness piece—like the twelve stones Israel took out of the Jordan or the stone or the stone Samuel set up and gave the name Ebenezer.  It reminds me of the faithfulness of God in my life. 

At the time I scratched those initials, I knew very little about Him.  I was ten years old and we didn’t go to church or talk about God in our home—He just wasn’t a part of our life.  As far back as I can remember though, I had always believed in Him.  I suppose initially it was just the innocence of childhood that made me embrace Him.  But I remember quite well an occasion when I was a little older and realized that believing was a choice you made and to me the world made sense with God, and without Him it didn’t. I’ve added many more layers to my faith since then, but that’s where it began.    

I can look back over the forty-seven years that have passed and see so many ways that God has blessed me.  When I was in college, Barry Pike entered my life and taught me the good news of Jesus.  Not long after that, I met a wonderful young lady named Janice Hendrixson and we’ll be celebrating our thirty-fifth anniversary in August.  We have three grown children who follow the Lord and two grandsons who are being raised to do the same.  I’ve been blessed to spend my adult life working with churches in Wisconsin, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Alabama.  Who would have thought all of this was going to happen to that ten year old boy carving his initials into his grandparents vegetable bin on (what I’m sure was) a steamy Missouri day? He certainly didn’t!    

When Granddad Smith died, the vegetable bin ended up with my parents where it remained until my Mom passed away in October.  As the four children went through her things and tried to keep as much of the old furniture in the family as we could, the vegetable bin ended up at our house.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s a prized possession.  I look at those initials carved on June 9, 1967, and am humbled by how good God has been to me.        

I think it’s healthy for all of us to occasionally look back and think about how far God has brought each of us.  We tend to get so focused on the here-and-now that we lose the larger context that enables us to put and keep things in perspective.  I think that’s what the Lord’s Supper does for us each Sunday and our own witness pieces supplement this—even a beat-up old vegetable bin. 

. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done. . . Then they would put their trust in God and not forget His deeds but would keep His commands" (Psalm 78:4,7).

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