“We brought you something,” my American friend Lisa grinned as she came in the door. Her husband Robert thrust a long thin box into my hands, beaming at me like a school kid.
“We discovered it yesterday!” Lisa said. “We knew you would want some.”
I stared at the box in my hands, not knowing what to say. It was spaghetti. Real, imported Italian spaghetti noodles. These were a real treasure in our small east Asian town.
The handful of foreigners living here had scouted out all the supermarkets in our city, and found only one store that carried them in a tiny imported foods section. Then one day, for no apparent reason, the shop had stopped carrying spaghetti. I looked for it week after week, month after month, but there was none to be found. I asked my other foreign friends, and they all said the same thing – our pasta supply had inexplicably dried up.
So when I discovered this week that the supermarket had spaghetti again, I was ecstatic. I cleared the shelf and bought every single box in stock – about 16 boxes of noodles. And now here my American friends were generously offering me one of their valuable boxes of spaghetti, unaware that my cabinet was stuffed with pasta.
I felt sick. How greedy and selfish could I be? It had never occurred to me to share my precious purchase with my other foreign friends in town. All I’d thought about was myself.
Not an Orphan
I was reminded of some friends who had adopted a little boy from Russia. Every night at supper he would stuff his pockets with rolls from the table, then hide them under his pillow for later. His years in the Russian orphanage had taught him that he had to fight for his food if he wanted to have enough to eat. But slowly he began to learn that his new parents would feed him again the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that. And he stopped hiding bread in his room. He started to see himself as a son.
Now here I was, acting exactly like an orphan. Orphans fight for what they want, because no one else will fight for them. They hoard what they have, because they don’t know what they’ll get tomorrow. Orphans only look out for themselves, because there’s no one else to care for them.
But I’m not an orphan! I’ve been adopted into God’s family. Why didn’t I trust Him to give me what I need? Matthew 7:9-11 says, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (NIV) I have a good Father, and I know He will provide for me.
A Beloved Daughter
Ashamed and embarrassed, I confessed to my friends Lisa and Robert the whole story of the spaghetti noodles, showing them my overflowing cupboard. They laughed and accepted my peace offering of several boxes of pasta, and all was well.
But that day reminded me to be careful not to slip into an “orphan mentality.” If I find myself feeling like I need to hoard something special and not share with others, or start to worry that I won’t have what I need in the future, I remember that I’m no longer an orphan. I’m a beloved daughter, and I have a good Father who takes good care of me!