This weekend I went food shopping for the first time in a month. We were not planning on going a month without food shopping. Some poor budgeting, poor choices, and unexpected expenses necessitated a hold on all spending. It was that, go into debt, or not pay our bills. We believe the Bible has a lot to say about going into debt and paying those we owe, and while we are not perfect in this area, we are trying to honor God with our finances.
"The wicked borrow and do not repay;
but the righteous give generously." (Psalm 37:21)
So, my husband led us in the decision to freeze all spending, including food shopping. Thankfully we had a freezer stocked with deer, a fridge filled with a 25 pound bag of carrots and 20 pounds of apples that we had recently received from our Azure Standard order, some spinach and herbs in the garden, and a pantry with some winter squash, seasonings, and other staples. (We have lots of food allergies and eat a mostly grain-free diet, so rice and pasta are not in our pantry and were not an option.) Most importantly, we had our trust in a God who has proven time and time again that HE is our PROVIDER. I reminded myself of the story of Elijah and the widow and the flour and oil that never ran out (1 Kings 17:10-16). Then there is the time that Jesus fed 5,000 with only a few loaves of bread and two fish (John 6:1-15). And I meditated on the many times God has answered our prayers.
Well, the month is up, and I can say God answered our prayers and provided for His children once again. In fact, one of our last meals before food shopping, my husband even said "this is like a gourmet meal". And, the amazing thing is, that after a month of no food shopping, this last shopping trip did not cost me anymore than usual. Praise God!
LESSONS LEARNED (OR REINFORCED):
1. Do not worry about tomorrow. Pray, follow where God leads, and trust Him to work out the details. Never underestimate the power of God, His unfailing love for us, or His power to provide.
" 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?' And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." ~Matthew 6:25-34
2. How much food we either waste, or indulge in just because it is there. When you know that a dinner is also going to have to be your lunch for tomorrow, you are much less likely to reach for seconds.
3. How to work with what you have. Often, if I recipe called for something that I did not have, I would run out to the store to buy it. Well, without that option you start to substitute things that are "close enough" (i.e. carrot puree instead of pumpkin puree). We discovered some wonderful new flavors and recipes (and also a few that I do not think we'll be trying again...).
4. Our children learned to eat what is available. I found that I was way more guilty than I thought of catering to their whining and picky eating habits. If they did not eat a meal, I used to find them snacks or something that they would eat. I did not do this on purpose. Breakfast plates would be cleared (with half of their food still sitting on it), and two hours later they would be complaining that they were hungry, so I'd reach for a piece of fruit or some other snack. I honestly did not realize I did this until there were no snacks to give them. Now they know that what is served is what there is to eat, and to be thankful for it.
5. To be more careful with our budgeting and spending, so we do not end up in this situation again (although it really was not that bad and God did provide, we do need to be more responsible and better stewards of our finances!).
"Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you."