This is from the book God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew.
Despite everything that had happened I was still a novice in this whole business of God’s bountiful care. I still depended on the isolated miracle, the emergency dispensation to get me out of one spot or another, instead of leaning back in the arms of a Father Who had more than enough and to spare.
Back home there were several new expenses, the biggest of which was the arrival of a second baby. Just a year after Joppie was born, Mark Peter came to join our household. We started buying less meat in the market, depending a little more one the vegetables from our garden.
This was no hardship, for we loved vegetables. What we did not realise, though, was that it was part of a whole mental set, an ‘attitude of lack’, into which we had slipped.
The error came to my attention through the words of a lady I never met.
One day we received, through our mail a rather large gift, the equivalent of about forty dollars. Attached to the cheque was a note from the donor saying, “Dear Brother Andrew: This is to be used for your own personal needs. It is not to go to the work! Use it in Christ’s love.”
I was touched by this thought. We had received personal gifts from friends, but this was the first time a stranger a total stranger had ever made such a stipulation. Instead of putting her note at the bottom of the pile of unanswered mail—three months high at that point—I sat down and pecked out a thankyou note that very day. I told her we we especially appreciated the note, because we were very scrupulous about: all donations went into the work unless they were specifically marked otherwise. Even our clothing, I told her, came out of the refugee bins to save money.
Well, I have wished often that I had saved the letter that this good lady shot back. She began by reminding me of the scriptural injunction that the ox grinding the corn must not be kept from enjoying the grain. Did I think God felt less about His human workers? Hadn’t I better examine myself to be sure I was not nursing a Sacrificial Spirit? Wasn’t I claiming to depend upon God, but living as if my needs would be met by my own scrimping? I remember her close. “God will send you what your family needs and what your work needs too.” I gave the letter a long and prayerful reading. Could she be right? Was I really living in an atmosphere of want that was most un-Christian?
About this time, Corrie and I were invited out to dinner. The time came to leave, and Corrie had not appeared. I went up to our room and found her still in her bathrobe.
“I have nothing to wear,” she said in a very small voice.
I started to laugh: wasn’t this what women always said? And then I saw the tears in her eyes. Silently I began to look over her wardrobe myself. Warm dresses. Serviceable ones—at least with Corrie’s meticulous mending they’d been made serviceable. But somehow the clothes she had salvaged from the refugee room had not managed to include anything pretty.
And suddenly I saw that this was part of a whole pattern of poverty into which we had fallen, a dark, brooding, pinched attitude that hardly went with the Christ of the open heart that we were preaching to others.
So we determined to change. We still lived frugally, and always would, partly because both of us were raised that way and wouldn’t know how else to act. But at the same time we learned to take joy in the physical things that God provided. Corrie bought some dresses. We went ahead with tearing down a wall so that she could walk directly from the house to the kitchen. And when our third baby, Paul Dennis, arrived—again just one year after the second—we actually went out and bought him some clothes. And I can’t say that he turned out any the worse for having passed his first days in clothes that still had store labels in them.
Funny how long it took us to learn the simple fact that God really is a Father, as displeased with a cramped, niggardly attitude of lack as with its opposite failing of acquisitiveness.