“Have any ideas where I can get straw to cover this?” my husband asked.
I was standing on our deck and watching my husband fling handfuls of grass seed over the topsoil we’d just spread where our pool used to be. And where our pickup truck and trailer, which he’d used to haul the topsoil to the backyard, had left deep ruts in the soft April soil.
I looked down at him. “Don’t you think we should’ve found straw before you seeded?”
“Probably,” he said. “Too late now.”
I racked my brain for a place to get straw bales and came up clueless. In the fall, all the local farm stands had straw. And sometimes farmers parked their hay wagons along the side of the road and sold bales of straw and hay. But now, in April?
He finished raking the grass seed into the soil and smiled up at me. “How about a walk in town?”
It was seventy degrees outside, and we needed to enjoy the nice weather while it lasted, especially since I’d heard the “S” word in the forecast for Wednesday. (And by the “S” word I mean “Snow.”) We piled into the jeep—our old boxer in the back and us in front. As we backed out of the driveway, my husband punched numbers into his phone. “I’ll call Tractor Supply, see if they have straw or hay.”
Sure, they had hay. Little bags of it in the pet section, where we’d purchased them on occasion for our rabbits. I added up how much it would cost to buy enough to cover the large areas of planted grass and was about to protest when his phone emitted the tone which indicates the user misdialed.
“I’ll try again later,” my husband said.
While he drove, I tried to swallow my irritation. I’d worked hard all week, and all I wanted to do today was take a stroll and then plonk down on the couch with a good book. But instead, I could kiss my relaxing day good-bye. Tractor Supply wouldn’t have straw bales, so we’d drive all over creation in search of a nice farmer who would sell us some. When that didn’t work, we’d end up buying a gazillion little bags of hay from the pet section. It would cost a fortune. And my day would be shot.
A few minutes later, we parked in town. I put a leash on the dog, stepped onto the sidewalk, and stopped short.
By the curb, two houses from where we’d parked, I saw three bales of straw. I grabbed my husband’s arm and tugged him to the bales. “Okay. This is totally a God thing. Someone’s getting rid of their fall decorations.”
My husband wasn’t so sure about the God thing. “They probably unloaded them there and using them later. “
“Look, they’re old. They have black spots on the sides,” I told him. “Why don’t we ask the people who live here if we can take some.”
“Maybe, if they’re still here after our walk…”
I gawked at him. I’m a person of immediate action. Plus, I’m super competitive. Those were now our bales of straw. God gave them to us. No one, and I mean no one, was getting his mitts on them before we did.
I gave my husband a little push toward the driveway. “The owners are sitting by the porch. Go ask. The worst they can say is ‘no,’ and you feel like a dork.”
He sighed and then shuffled down the driveway. A minute later, he came back and shrugged. “You were right, they said take as many as we want.”
I stood with our dog as my husband pulled up the jeep and began loading the bales inside. And I thought about God. I hadn’t even prayed yet about finding straw bales, but here they were, sitting on the curb, right where we’d parked. Sure, I was thankful that the straw was free. And I was beyond thrilled that we’d no longer need to spend hours tracking down a nice farmer or spreading the contents of a gazillion little hay bags over the grass seed.
But God was showing me something. And I knew what it was.
This last year or so has been full of struggles. Rejection—lots of rejection. And lots of waiting. Heartbreaking loss. Fading dreams. Bewilderment. Feeling useless and lost. Trying to bloom where I’m planted and not doing a very good job of it. Wondering why God’s will seems so muddled.
With both hands, I’ve been clinging to God’s promise that He’ll never leave me or forsake me. But sometimes I’ve felt doubt loosening my fingers, one by one. And when that happens, God had sent me reminders that His eye is upon me. The perfect verse-of -the-day on my Bible app. A phrase in the message at church. A friend reaching out. A pink and orange-painted sunrise. A smile from a stranger. A kiss from a loved one. Peace wrapping around me like a blanket, still warm from the dryer, when I least expect it.
So the next time I feel doubt creeping in and question whether God sees me, I know what I’ll tell myself:
You bet your straw bales He does.