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| Author: 35

Exceedingly Abundantly Above

by Barb L

"I knew I should have done laundry last night,"
I thought, as I rummaged through the closet. I had out-grown much of my clothing, so deciding what to wear usually wasn't too difficult. But today most of my wearable clothes were in a pile on the basement floor. It was several years in the past as I lamented--I had recently become another lay-off statistic, joining my husband Larry, and thousands of others in the area.

For years my body had stayed fit from eight or twelve hours of hard physical labor every day. Now my factory job had ended, and the extra pounds were creeping on very easily. Losing them had become a tremendous strggle. Though Larry had recently begun another job, we were just beginning to get back on our feet, and there was little money left for extras, like clothing.

Hurriedly I slipped on my well-worn pair of black slacks and teal colored blouse. Both fit snugger than I liked. Frowning at what I saw in the mirror, I dropped my head for a moment and said a quick little prayer. "Lord, you know what shape my wardrobe is in.

It's my fault I've gained this weight, but I know you still care. Your word says you'll give us the desires of our hearts. Somehow will you provide me with a hundred dollars for a few items of clothing I really need? Thank you, Lord. Amen."

I was out the door and on my way to see my friend, Nadine. Our busy schedules had kept us apart for some time, and I looked forward to our visit. Though the outside temperature had tuned cool, the warm hum of the car's heater along with soft music from the radio made for a relaxing ride.

After heading east on the highway for six miles, I turned left, and found the first of several gravel roads I would follow.

Nadine lived 20 miles away in the countryside, her modern home surrounded by a freshly painted barn, other out buildings, two blue silos, and several four-footed friends. It was autumn in Iowa, and tall corn stood everywhere, ready for harvesting. These farm visits always brought back warm memories of my childhood.

Here I could imagine my uncle Shorty pitching hay with the big fork in his calloused hands, his grubby overalls a witness to the many hours of work he had already put in by midmorning. And I could picture him in the barn, sitting on the short, three legged stool milking the long line of cows.

Always there would be two or three kittens nearby, expectantly waiting for their daily quota of very fresh milk. After helping Shorty feed the horses and pigs, he would often let me ride with him in the big tractor; if I begged long enough, he'd even let me drive it a short way.

I had barely turned into the drive before Patches, a most friendly dog, was beside the car to greet me. Nadine emerged through the doorway with a smile and a wave, her hair peeking out from under her three-cornered scarf. We exchanged hugs and hellos and headed to her cozy kitchen. We are both "cola-holics," and without a word nadine plopped two cans of diet Pepsi onto the table.

Quickly we caught up on the latest in each other's lives. Her mother's feelings of weakness was not improving, she told me, and the doctor suspected internal bleeding. Possibly surgery was in store for her, a real concern, as Nadine's mother was nearing 80. I shared that Larry's new job was going well.

Though he didn't relish the 25 mile drive twice a day, he enjoyed working with computers. I spoke of my recent return to college, and she, of the new Bible study she was involved in.

Two hours passed quickly, as we shared the events of the past three months. Nadine and I attend different churches, but our common love for Jesus is our strongest bond, and we often pray together before we part. I was ready to suggest we pray, just as Nadine exclaimed, "I want to give you a hundred dollars to buy clothes." Had I heard correctly?"

"What did you say?"
"I'd like to give you one hundred dollars to buy some new clothes." My mouth dropped. I remembered that simple, hurried prayer I had prayed only three hours before. Seeing Nadine's confused glance, I explained the tears forming in my eyes. I had never mentioned my need for clothing, nor my prayer, and the Lord was prompting my friend to make this offer to me!

"But Nadine, are you sure you want to do this?"
"Most definitely. I want you to come back next week, so that I can give you cash. Just accept this as a gift from God."

My heart rejoiced, and I praised God in the days following, not so much for the anticipated $100, but for the knowledge of how much God loves his children. This was a specific desire I had asked for, and God was answering it to the letter! One short Bible verse came to memory, "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting."

How many times had I prayed about different needs and wants, not really expecting to see any change, but more or less going through the motions? I claimed to believe all of God's word, but now that he had fulfilled one of his promises so explicitly, I was amazed!

A week passed, and I returned to Nadine's home. With a big smile she pushed a wad of bills into my hand. The roll felt too thick, and I fanned through it, checking if she had given me more than intended. One, two, three...threre were ten $20 bills!

"But Nadine--." She quickly covered my mouth. Before I could protest, Nadine insisted that this was what she wanted to do. She reminded me that in times past the Lord had impressed me to do certain things. Wasn't I usually obedient? Now this was what she was called to do. I hugged my friend and accepted this gift from God and his servant.

During the drive home, I recalled one of my favorite Bible verses from the third chapter of Ephesians. "Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." God is able. He is good, and he does hear every prayer we pray!

Barb L

Adrian D Manjas