Once upon a time, a church decided to host a block party for its urban neighborhood. Everyone was invited. There would be games and music, snow cones and balloon animals. Kids would get school supplies and maybe win a new bike in the drawing. There would be food – lots and lots of food.
One member of the church looked over the list of needed supplies and saw one word: “cookies.” She was a baker; this was the job for her.
And she wouldn’t just bake cookies, oh, no. She would take charge of the cookies! She would organize the cookie bakers! She would bag all the cookies! She would personally make sure that every guest at the party had his or her own baggie of homemade goodness! AND she would do everything ahead of time!
She was told of a few others who had volunteered to bake, so she got in touch with them to see how many cookies they would make. She felt uneasy; the list of bakers was shorter than she had thought. She posted a request for cookies on Facebook but it didn’t get any response. Was her cookie crusade in trouble?
A week out, while counting and recounting the promised dozens, she panicked. It was clear she was going to fall far, far short of her goal. For once in her orderly, scheduled, responsible life, she had taken on something at which she could not succeed. In one brief moment of insanity she considered making 150 dozen cookies herself. Instead, she would have to accept there wouldn’t be enough; she had utterly failed, she was a failure.
But then the woman called to mind what she had learned in her hard-fought months of counseling. She remembered that sometimes, things don’t all have to fall on our shoulders. Sometimes it’s ok to fail, and sometimes you have to know you did your best and that’s all anyone, including God, can ask of us.
Sometimes it’s ok to fail, because it’s always ok not to be perfect.
So she turned the whole thing over to God. The next day, she got a text from a friend who had a friend who volunteered in a soup kitchen, and they happened to have an extra box of frozen cookie dough, and could she use it? The day after that, a fellow baker called to check on the cookie progress while bagging her own cookies because she had a hunch there might be a shortfall. That conversation led to a decision to bag the cookies differently and generate more baggies.
The day after that, she baked her own contributions. Then she opened the box of frozen donated dough: each double-chocolate blob was the size of a hockey puck, easily cut in half to form a normal-size cookie. She started to feel a little bit better about the whole thing.
The day of the party, she arrived at church to see that people had been dropping off cookies all morning. Two large cardboard boxes of cookies became four, and then six, and then so many that the woman had to scrounge around for more boxes and baskets to hold everything. They had so many cookies that they gave bags and bags and bags to each guest. Twice the woman sent volunteers armed with cookies to give away in the crowd, random-acts- of-kindess-style.
The whole party was an explosion of abundance. A chef who ran a gourmet food truck set up in the parking lot and gave away food until he ran out. One neighbor, upon seeing the bike giveaway, ran home and got his new mountain bike to donate it “so one more kid in this town can have a bike”, he said.
Giving away cookie after cookie, the woman knew one thing: God had not failed. God cared enough to make sure that the cookies overflowed like some sort of modern-day chocolate chip loaves and fishes.
After every person had gotten his fill of cookies, there was still one huge box of cookies left. At the party there just so happened to be the guy who ran the soup kitchen in town. Could he use the big box of cookies? He could, because he happened to be serving a meal the next day, and oh by the way he had just received word that his regular dessert maker wasn’t going to be there. One more thing: could he use this little box of broken cookies that had been set aside? Of course, the soup kitchen guy replied. Some of our people don’t have teeth; they’ll probably like those broken ones even better.
So that’s the story of how God multiplied the cookies and made even the broken ones a blessing. It’s the story of how one woman learned this firsthand. Really, it’s the story of how broken people are a blessing when they live with God and in God and let God bless through them.
And if the woman in this story happens to resemble a certain writer of this blog, that’s purely intentional. The end.