An elderly lady we hardly knew came one morning to borrow two and six pence (26p). That was so many years ago I can't even recall what she needed the money for. At that time we had not been long in the ministry and were rather on the poor side. Nevertheless, we gave her the money, and that was that. We would sometimes remember the two and six pence she had borrowed from us, but even if we had seen her we would not have dared to ask about it.
In those days, with that amount of money we could have bought a bottle of cooking oil, or a loaf of bread and perhaps a pint of milk. Yet we dared not ask for that money from an elderly person who was perhaps even a widow. We did not really know her. In fact, we did not even know where she lived. We had only occasionally seen her in the vicinity.
Several months went by, then one day she brought us some tomato seedlings. We took them and thanked her for the gift.
We wondered if those seedlings would survive. Water was very scarce, and already I had to get our water from the street tap. Each day I had to stand in the queue to get water for the house and for the washing. How would I also keep tomatoes alive?
Besides, the soil was very poor. It looked as if it had been years since that ground had grown anything. To make matters still worse, our house was on a street corner with lots of cars and pedestrians passing by. Could these tomatoes possibly make it to maturity?
We kept watering the seedlings anyway, and as the weeks rolled on, the tomatoes plants did amazingly well. Large, healthy-looking tomatoes began to form.
Then, to our surprise, my husband was given the opportunity to go for the two-year ministerial course at Bethel College. A few weeks later we had to move to Bethel. By then, however, the tomatoes had begun to ripen. They were just the type for a good tomato salad.
And what a lot of them! We picked and picked—enough tomatoes to fill two wooden boxes. There were still some very green ones, but we did not have room for them anyway. We invited some neighbors and church friends to help themselves to the remainder of those lovely tomatoes—our repayment from an elderly, hardly-known lady.
It was during the experience of those tomatoes that I first heard my husband quote the verse, "Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again." (Eccl. 11:1, NIV)
Though it seemed to us that she had forgotten about the borrowed money, she decided in her own time to repay us in her own way. We surely found our bread multiplied many, many times over. Bless her heart, she gave us much more than the two and six pence we had given her.
If we plant the word of God, we may not get the results we would like to see as quickly as we would like to see them. Yet in His own time—maybe even after we are gone—the Lord will bring the results. Therefore, let us take heart.