Deep blue met brown. His eyes were sober as I’d ever seen ’em. He paused by the freezer, one hand on top. At his feet was the old red-and-white cooler, the one I accidentally melted the back of by setting it too close to a heat register.
“I want to do this…but its really going to cost us!”
I felt the weight of his words. We’d tried to be self-sufficient, provide all our own meat from animals we raised or hunted. We’d tended gardens and foraged, stored produce in our cold room, did lots of canning, freezing and drying. But this? This was almost all the meat we had! Beef prices were not cheap at that time. And good grass-fed meat was like gold to us: treasured and expensive!
He knew how I needed protein, the weakness that took hold if I didn’t have meat. He also knew my need for clean protein. Our eyes held for a moment: was this a wise decision? And then he carried the cooler to the vehicle.
In his head, he was wondering, praying and thinking: “God, if You really do take note of the little things in our lives, if You really do care and see our need, would You provide us with more meat? If I look out for Your concerns, will You really, truly look out for my own, for my wife?”
We had both felt that we were supposed to give this meat to a family we knew. They primarily hunted for their supply and the fall had turned up a fruitless harvest. The wife was sick, the husband couldn’t work and had to stay home, caring for their 3 young children. Buying meat was costly for more than just us! The woman’s situation was similar to my own, only far more extreme. She battled to function each day and and without protein, she would literally collapse.
Somehow, we just knew we were supposed to do this for them. We did.
The trip was made in good time. Happy to see them, the goods were delivered and an enriching visit was to be had. On the return trip home, I again heard the words from his mouth:
“I’m glad we did it, but its really going to cost us something.”
He was right. It would. It truly was going to cost.
While driving home the idea crossed my mind to advertise for farmer’s old hens and unwanted roosters. We’d done it when living in the north and most people would let ’em go for cheap or free.
Upon arriving home, I advertised on our regional farming facebook page. I had just been gifted an All-American Pressure Canner and was eager to use it, thought if we could round up some old hens for free, I could supply us with chew-able meat! I hoped for 15-20 birds. I’d be grateful for that amount!
In the book of Proverbs, the writer tells us that a king’s heart is channeled by God. Let me quote it for you here:
“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He (the LORD) turns it wherever He wishes” (Prov. 21:1). Italics my own.
After the experience we had, I’d also claim that it’s true of not only the king but also the homesteader!
The waters were channeled toward us. Suddenly, we had chickens coming at us from every direction! People from 2 1/2 hrs away would deliver ’em to us, free of charge or costs just because they were passing through and…”they didn’t want to see ’em go to waste….” Chickens, chickens and more chickens!
In 3 weeks time and at the cost of one $10 delivery, we had butchered fifty chickens. Fifty! Not the dare-I-hope-for-20 but fifty. Big ole’ five-zero!
“Yes Lord, You truly do notice even the little needs!”
We were grateful, with 40 jars of pressure canned chicken and 10-or-so younger roo’s in the freezer, we knew He had heard.
But it didn’t stop there!
While picking up four very nice roosters from a local homesteader, we received an invite. He had an old jersey milk cow that no longer “took.” While he had butchered her, it was almost time to cut and process the meat. He was looking for help.
“If you two would be willing to come help, we’d be happy to exchange labor for meat.”
Upon arriving home, we could look into each others eyes once again, this time joyful, sobered and humbled. After leaving the butchering day with meat supplied to us, we were even more humbled. We had risked and “looked out” for God’s interests. He had chosen to look out for ours.
Y’see, we don’t give on the basis that God has to and will return what we have given. Sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes there’s something more important on His agenda. There are times He wants to begin weaning us from the old ways so we can learn His own. He knows how easily we are lulled to sleep, that most often our faith won’t be deepened until we have a need or feel a loss.
So what really happens when self-sufficiency and faith collide, when preparedness and generosity butt heads, when walking by faith doesn’t make sense to this DIYer???
My true focus in life is revealed. Am I concerned about His perspective and plans or am I caught up in fulfilling my desire for comfort, stability, self-sufficiency and who-knows-what-else?!!!
Please don’t think of us as perfect saints.
We are real people and quickly find ourselves tied to “things” when homesteading or farming. Let’s acknowledge the truth: most of us work hard for what we have! Its easy to become stingy and tightly hold to our goods or even to become greedy and hoard. I’ve been guilty of it; there have been times when I have closed my hands, instead of opening ’em.
“Our desire is to remember that what we have comes from the hand of God. It all belongs to Him. And we wish to live our homesteading lives accordingly.”
What do you think? When self-sufficiency and faith collide, which one will you choose? Have any stories? I’d love to hear ’em!