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Don’t Forget the Toilet Paper – Trusting God’s Provision

Don’t Forget the Toilet Paper – Trusting God’s Provision

Sometimes God uses our small, less significant worries to remind of us of His sovereign care in all our situations. We had plenty to worry about as we approached the date of our first departure to serve in the Philippines. It was a pretty big step for us to walk away from life in America and haul our four kids, ages 2 - 8, to a country we’d never even visited before. There were those big looming questions like: Is this truly what God wants for our family? This isn’t going to be cheap. Will He really provide for all the financial needs we’re going to face? Will our children survive this move away from family and friends? But, at times, it seems that our minds select to escape those larger concerns by being preoccupied with smaller, day-to-day, less philosophical worries.

Many of our smaller anxieties at that time revolved around what things to take with us to the mission field and also what things not to take with us. With limited airline luggage space, we couldn’t take everything. We realized that we didn’t want to spend our money on things that we weren’t going to be able to take along. So, during the months, weeks, and days leading up to our January 15, 1999 departure date, we began rationing things and only purchasing what we would take along or could use before we left. We didn’t want to waste our precious money on a new bottle of ketchup that we couldn’t use before we left. But some things are a little harder to predict than ketchup, and a little bit more important. As it turned out, one of the items that we underestimated our consumption of was a can’t-live-without element of life for most Americans: toilet paper. We didn’t buy enough. So, when we ran out, we began substituting alternatives: napkins, tissues, paper towels. But two days before our long-awaited flight, we found ourselves toilet paperless and with no remaining practical alternatives.

Weather in January in central Ohio can also be a bit unpredictable. Two days before our scheduled departure, there was a huge ice storm. Almost an inch of ice coated everything. Tree branches fell. Power lines broke. Roads were closed. And we were trapped at home … without toilet paper! As our desperation grew, I knew what had to be done. I would just have to risk life and limb and attempt the two-mile drive on the icy road that led into town. But before heading for the car in the garage, I decided to walk cautiously out from the driveway to the road and see just how bad it was. The sleet and freezing rain were still coming down, as I gingerly made my way toward the normally busy state route. Today, there were no cars in sight. The pavement looked like it would be great for a hockey game but maybe not so good for a Volkswagen Vanagon. I determined that attempting an expedition, even for something as essential as toilet paper, would just be foolish. 

While contemplating other, less appealing, toilet paper alternatives, I started the precarious walk back to the house. Then, I remembered that I should check the mail. After my first cautious steps toward the mailbox, it dawned on me that the likelihood that mail had even been delivered on a day like today was pretty slim. I almost turned back toward the house but decided to give it a look anyway. Maybe there was a letter from a friend, or, as is the dream of every support-raising missionary, maybe there was a check!

After breaking away the thick layer of ice that plastered the mailbox, I was surprised to see that the mail had indeed been delivered. I quickly scanned through the small stack of envelopes. Nothing too exciting. As I was about to close the lid, I noticed that there was something else in the back of the mail box. I reached in and took hold of a plastic-wrapped roll of toilet paper. The labeling said that it was a free sample from a company I’d never heard of. But looking back I’ve come to see that this was a single roll of toilet paper sent from Heaven.

As I trekked back to the house, I’m sure a smile slid across my face. But the real significance of that roll of toilet paper did not dawn on me that day. My gladness was only because I knew that the item in my hand would meet an immediate need. It wasn’t until later that I realized that this seemingly small provision from God was not only to solve an immediate problem. It was more importantly to point toward an answer for my larger questions about God’s ability to care for my family as we began life on other side of the globe. Would God provide the money we need to pay this year’s tuition for our kids? Sure he would. Remember, he put toilet paper in our mail box. Pinned in a crushed truck for two hours after a head-on collision, my leg clearly broken and a collapsed lung; would I ever see my children again? Well, remember, he did put toilet paper in our mail box. God’s taken care of us for 20 years of ministry in the Philippines, but now we’re headed back and we’ll need to find jobs and ministry fulfillment. Don’t worry. You serve a God who put toilet paper in your mailbox. There are many times I manage to slip back into doubting God’s power to provide in so many different ways. He continues to remind me of that icy day in January of 1999 when he saw exactly what I needed for that day and every day that would follow, and he put toilet paper in my mailbox.