By Cindy Koch –
The sun sets and a curious pang of hunger haunts an empty stomach. For a moment, panic strikes. What’s for dinner? Frantically, one searches for a solution to fill the void. This meal is an ever-changing story and never finished tale.
When my family was much younger, I would load the double stroller with two little ones and walk to the Aldi’s grocery a couple of blocks away. Wind, cold, humidity or sun, I would push those babies over broken pavement through that old St. Louis neighborhood with only twenty-five dollars in my pocket. Since my husband and I shared one car, he drove to school. But I could fill the stroller bag with enough groceries to feed my family for a week. Pasta, Top Ramen, caned veggies, and milk, it was no gourmet meal. But dinner was served.
As our family grew, places and menus changed. Tucked in the middle of swamp lands in Georgia, the nearest grocery store was a quick twelve-minute drive away. Three, then four, then five kiddos strapped into the minivan as we took off with coupons in hand. At the store, the baby cuddled in a sling, the small one sat in the shopping cart, and the other three each held onto the side of the basket. “One hand on!” Everyone had their spot, and if anyone stepped in front, they would be hit. I would meticulously plan lists to coordinate with the sales of the week and the children’s taste buds. Greens and frozen Okra, biscuits and sausage gravy, fresh shrimp and grits appeared on our southern table. Due to the large number of kiddos, most of it ended up on the floor. Yet, dinner was served.
Now, our dinner table has moved once again to Southern California. We stepped back into the eternal sunshine, and we were instantly greeted with large, juicy, sweet strawberries. Oranges, avocados, lettuces and produce of every kind overflowed from the local farmer’s market. The kids are now old enough that I can shop in blissful silence, pushing a cart or carrying my reusable grocery bag without even one little voice asking for a snack. My list is less structured, and most of my fresh veggies come from the front yard garden that my husband tends. Many nights, one of our four daughters will make dinner for the family; we enjoy both the successes and the failures brought to the table. Still, dinner is served.
We have all eaten so many meals over our lifetime, some that we can remember, even more that we will forget. Depending on where we lived, our vocation at the time, and who shared our heart and home, our dinner table has changed over the years. Fancy restaurants, single barstools, messy highchairs. We have eaten the quick fast food dinners with disposable forks. We can remember painfully silent meals in evenings of sadness. We cherish the memories of the celebration meals set with sparking china, good silver, and glowing candles. Every meal was not the same, but each dinner offered nourishment for life. We have been strengthened and shaped by gifts that were given to us each and every night at our table. Poor or rich, bounty or famine, every bite pieces together and preserves who we are today.
Reflecting on all the dinners of my life, I have learned to recklessly expect one thing every night: dinner. The good hand of God keeps providing our daily bread, even without our prayer, no matter if it comes from the deep freezer or the sushi restaurant. He daily and richly provides everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as meat, drink, clothing, shoes, house, homestead, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious and faithful magistrates, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.
I can boldly look forward to tomorrow, next week, and next year, when God will feed me again. I’m not exactly sure from where the food will come or with whom I’ll be sharing that meal. I’m not sure if I’ll be feasting on choice meats or drinking bitter tears. I can’t say if He will feed me the common food of this world or the Great Feast of the world to come. But dinner will be served.