I lifted my overflowing basket to the rail, preparing to do one of my favorite household chores…hanging out the laundry. Spring had shown itself, the sun was shining and i was more than ready to resume my daily habit after a long, harsh winter.
As i began to shake and hang…the LORD reminded me of the very first time i called upon HIS name. Many years prior, as a young mama with only 2 babies. I was a very, very sick girl and lacked the energy or strength to preform even the most basic of household duties. Laundry hanging, at that time, became a thing of my past. Yet, in a brave moment… i determined to “hang out the laundry” if that was the only thing i could do that day. Being so desperately ill, i had to drag the full laundry basket into the backyard clothes line. But being too sick to lift my arms to the line…i threw my head back…lifted my face….looked up through the pine needles and cried…”GOD, if YOUR real…if YOUR out there…this would be a good time to show YOURSELF to me…cause i’m sick…and i think i’m dying…and i don’t know what to do.”
Re-enter 2015. As i hung my clothes this Spring morning i reminisced with the LORD that memory. And as i meditated on the thoughts in my head i said, “LORD, YOU have been so faithful. So wonderful in my life. Of course, I recall my first time crying out to YOU, LORD….and YOU showed YOURSELF to me…now LORD, 27 years latter at this clothesline i need to ask YOU something else.”
I hesitated for a moment… then I quickly counted the clothespins in the bucket. Eyeing the remaining clothes to be hung… it seemed to me that i would not have enough clothes pins to finish the task.
Perfect i thought…the story of me…never enough…or just barely enough….always lack…always just scrapping by…”LORD, YOU are a GOD of abundance. YOU are a GOD who is extravagant. YOU are a GOD of overflowing. That is who YOU are. I hate feeling like i’m not gonna make it. I hate feeling like i don’t have enough for my kids…for this ministry…i hate the feeling of lack and poverty…and poor little, sick little, broken little Kim…i have a lot to do in the time YOU have given me LORD…i have many very real responsibilities in my family…and in this ministry LORD….and i NEED to know…i NEED to see…that YOU are gonna provide abundance for me..not puny…not almost enough…not ‘whew’ that was close… but abundance…”
I finished hanging the clothes in silent. All done. I looked down to see 3 clothespins left in the bucket. “That is exactly what i’m talking about LORD! That is not abundance…that is just enough to get by!”
Then i threw my head back…lifted my face…looked up through the pine needles (yes, pine needles)…and cried…”GOD, in YOUR goodness…and because YOU love me like crazy…would YOU please give me a sign…and fill my clothespin bucket…abundantly…like tons of clothespins…like more than enough to do the job!…like saying i will not lack in the provision i need to do a great job in my family…and do a great job in my ministry…give me this sign….that YOU are gonna provide EVERYTHING i need…in abundance…GOD give me clothespins!”
Yes, I prayed for clothespins. Fervently. Cause clothespins are so simple, so homey, so get-the-job done, so everyday, so functional, so Mama Squirrel. I prayed for an abundance of clothes pins. And i didn’t tell anyone, cause i didn’t want anyone to be the answer to my petition….and i wasn’t gonna go buy clothespins…and i would not accept clothespins from usual places, like on a hanger…or clipped to my potato chip bag, cause i can always find them there. And i wasn’t gonna go searching for clothespins…they would have to turn up on my daily path all by themselves, without me looking for them…..So i prayed…and i cried…and i waited 3 days. Cause 3 days is often my “rule of thumb”…..and clothespins DID come trickling in…i’d find 1 or 2 by the couch…2 or 3 on the porch….some behind a table, others lost in a dish while i was looking for mascara…a kid brought me 2 or 3 when he was out raking the yard…and my clothespin bucket began to fill up slowly…but it wasn’t abundance.
After 3 days…i cried out to the LORD, “LORD, YOUR not the problem here…i KNOW YOU are a GOD of abundance…me not having clothespins doesn’t change who YOU are but i asked for more clothespins…”
That very day in my daily BIBLE reading i read about dead Lazuras….dead 4 days before JESUS came to resurrect him…even though Mary and Martha sent for JESUS to come heal their brother before he died. JESUS waited till Lazuras was dead, dead to show up.
“Okay, LORD…i’ll go 4 more days praying for clothespins. Four. Oh LORD, give me clothespins! Fill the bucket. Abundance of provision to get the job done!” I repented. Read scripture. Took prayer walks. And one day in anger threw the clothespin bucket down 7 times to see the clothespins scatter to the ground. I was exhausted praying for clothespins. But i kept at it. Cause i NEEDED to see the promise of GOD’s abundance flapping in the wind…hung by the provision of clothespins.
And over those 4 days…clothespins came…here and there in unusual places…twice i found them in bunches or 10 or 12….weird….but i just smiled to myself and plopped all those clothespins in a large glass container so i could watch them build up.
After 4 days i dumped all the clothespins together. My clothespins had easily doubled in 7 days. Easily. The clothespins filled my basket to more than half full. At least twice as many as i had started with the week before. But it wasn’t abundance. The basket wasn’t overflowing. My heart sank. Miraculously many clothespins did appear. Sadly, it was not what i asked for.
I struggled for many days with my clothespins request. I knew GOD is abundant. I believe HIS WORD. But as a private favor…i really wanted to see everyday clothes pins…as a constant reminder to me of HIS abundant provision for me…. personally.
I went about my business and kept my clothespin story to myself. I did life. And clothespins weren’t the center of it….though i did often wear a clipped clothespin to my shirt, or jeans pocket as a reminder of GOD’s WORD that HE is abundant…even if my prayer wasn’t answered.
One day my mama was down visiting. She noticed the clothespin clipped to the hem of my shirt. And she retold the story of when her baby Kim was a little girl, just taking her first steps, and that baby Kim always needed to have a clothespin in her hand to walk…or she would fall down…baby Kim would not move forward without a clothespin….and for a long, long time…that little girl walked around with a clothespin tucked in her little fist…because she felt secure…and safe…and courageous….as long as she had a clothespin in her hand.
Several more days past before i broke the silent and shared my clothespin story. I was relaxing and chatting with 3 hippies, when it all came out….the whole ordeal….the long version. Being gracious folks, they all listened to me politely…then they shared their thoughts. All of them were in absolute agreement, right from the start. It was so clear to all of them…what i could not see. All i saw was unanswered prayer. All they saw was abundance.
They harmonized for 15 minutes on how GOD miraculously made clothespins appear…and how abundance means more than enough….they showed me that i had way more than enough to hang out my laundry on any given day…an that i am able to fill my clothesline to the max…and still have plenty of clothespins left over….they discussed how i am not even close to lacking in clothespins…and have way more than i need for the job….they also noted that GOD, in the BIBLE, didn’t often provide long term…but met the need of the moment abundantly…and when more was needed HE provided then…not weeks ahead. One, knowing me, spoke up and said that i had a problem of being a completer…and that i liked the feeling of a full storehouse…while nothing is wrong with either of those…it can become a problem when you ask for an abundance of clothespins and get an abundance of clothespins for the job at hand….just maybe not enough for next summer…but next summer isn’t here yet…so you don’t need them.
These kids were beginning to make sense. But my brain was still stuck… though they themselves all left convinced i had gotten exactly what i had petitioned my GOD for.
So with BIBLE in hand, i went back to the basics and asked GOD for 3 confirmations from HIS WORD that these hippy kids were right…that i did receive abundance…and that somewhere along the way, these old eyes of mine missed the miracle…that those 3 kids could easily see.
And i read about the Israelites in the desert…who ate manna…every day…provision from heaven…in abundance…they had plenty…for that day…it didn’t rain down manna for a lifetime, or even a week…but provision in abundance 1 day at a time. As a matter of fact, if the Israelites tried to store the manna up for the next day, it would spoil and produce stench. (Exodus 16)
Then i read about the widows flour and oil. There was a major drought in the land. The land did not produce. Famine occurred. The widow was poor. Her resources gone. Starvation was coming, for her and her son. But according to the word of the prophet Elijah the widow was able to reach into her flour bin… and pour from her oil container…. each day enough to make bread for herself, her son and Elijah. She had plenty for every day…one day at a time…she didn’t bake bread for the week. She baked daily.
(1 King 17)
Finally, i read about the miraculous meal provision for 5,000 men… plus woman and children… from 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Everyone ate their fill that day…being completely satisfied…and the 12 disciples picked up the abundance…12 overflowing baskets of provision….(one for each disciple)…JESUS provided for the need of the moment….He prepared a more than sufficient meal at mealtime….and everyone went home happy. JESUS did not set up a buffet for a week…HE provided dinner…their daily bread….and it was more than enough. (Matthew 14)
Now convinced that the LORD had done exactly what i had asked HIM to do i closed my BIBLE and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for HIS overflowing provision in my everyday life stuff…from beginning to end…from personal to family to ministry…HE is my abundant provider…HE is my all-sufficient….HE is my extravagant GOD…He lavishes me with plenty…for whatever tasks i will face in my daily living…i have more than enough…
My GOD did not have to produce clothespins for this little girl for me to believe it….i already knew it….but a personal GOD does personal things for his personal children….and HIS overwhelming love for his kids pours out generously… in real-life… everyday things… like clothespins.