Do you wash your rags that you use for nasty jobs like washing the floor, washing the car, changing the oil, etc. etc.? DC keeps a large supply in the basement and every once in awhile, he plops them in the laundry room for a fresh start. In these rags are old t-shirts, used up towels, and other odds and ends.
This week when I did the chore of washing and drying the rags for him, I noticed this really gross old towel. I realized that it has been in my life for over 40 years. Isn't that ridiculous? But I am glad it is still here, because it made me think of where it came from, and the story that goes with it.
I had just graduated from high school and was looking forward with tremendous anticipation to leaving for college. I had been a serious student and just assumed that would be my next step. I had made a trip to the campus of choice and fallen in love with the place and the people.
I don't even remember applying for admission - I don't know when that took place. I wasn't able to get a job that summer, so was spending my time going to camps as a counselor and as a kitchen worker, probably working in VBS, and other fun things. Paying for college was the last thing on my mind, though it should have been front and center, since I was from a pastor's family with 5 kids and not a lot of income.
I remember as if it were last night - I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep. All of a sudden, reality had hit and it was only a short time till I had to leave for school. I had dragged a huge box into my room and was packing for the adventure. My dad told me I needed to use smaller boxes because we'd never be able to lift it.
I don't know what was going on in his mind at that point, but as I lay awake unable to sleep that night, I began to think of money, or rather the lack of it. I don't know why we were all so naive. I don't know why my folks never mentioned it before. I need to ask them that question. But I heard them talking down the hall in their room.
I could not get to sleep no matter what I tried, so I decided to get up and see what was keeping them awake. Surprise surprise - they were talking about how in the world I was going to get to go to college, financially. We talked for quite awhile. One idea they presented was that I could stay home and work for a year (where?) and go to college with a stash of cash. I didn't like that idea, because my sister was a year behind me and I didn't want to be freshmen the same year. They indicated that she may have to do the same thing the next year. I was not happy thinking this way.
I went back to bed and of course, did not go to sleep. I began crying and praying. I know it was God who began to bring these thoughts into my mind. I realized that not only did I not have any money for tuition, room, and board - I didn't have any of the supplies I needed - towels, sheets, toiletries, a decent winter coat, clothes, ironing board and iron (yes, we still ironed in those days), and many other things - all came buzzing into my consciousness. All I had was a set of red luggage that I had won for having a good Tupperware party. I had thought I was set!
As these thoughts plagued me, I began to relax and feel God's presence. I began to think of how, if I did stay home and get a job (where?), I could actually have some nice clothes, and I could buy all these things I needed. I wonder if I thought of applying for scholarships - financial aid from the federal government was not a common thing back in the 60s, at least not that I knew of. I went to a small school with not much in the way of counseling, obviously.
As the night rolled into morning, I had relinquished my stubborn will to God's. I told Him that if He wanted me home another year, I would not only accept it, but would make the best of it.
I got up the next morning and heard my mom talking on the phone. It seems that someone in the church had been having some of the same thoughts - they were asking if they could give me a "college shower," to help me get some of the things I needed. The next thing I knew, my brother and his best friend (who was like a 4th brother to us), and who had jobs that summer, had come up with the idea of getting me a winter coat and some towels.
Yes - towels - those blue and white polka dotted towels. The face towels and wash clothes were pink and white with the same dots. The church shower provided so many things, including an ironing board and iron. What a faith-building time this was in my life.
A few weeks later, my brother, sister, the same friend/brother, and I went to western Nebraska to hold a service for the church in Ainsworth. We had been singing as a quartet for the two years I lived there, and we had so much fun doing it. I'm not sure why we were asked to do this, but I know it was something God planned. I was the designated "preacher" for the morning. I shared this incredible experience with the congregation that morning and used the passage from Matthew 6 - I am sharing the King James Version, because that's how I learned it and I love the last sentence so much better than any other version - "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
25 Therefore, I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink,; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek); for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
That last verse became my life verse, and I need to remind myself of it often. The next four years were one miracle after another as God supplied every need, sometimes in very strange ways.