You might think the following story sounds like a fabricated tale, but it's not. My supervisor, Corine, shared this with one of our teams at work and brought the box in with her. Amazing.
Five year-old Corine climbed the townhouse steps, holding her mother’s hand. Behind door 3C, Mrs. Richmond, a widow with pearly white hair, waited at her kitchen table for their weekly visit. Sometimes they brought her bakery sweets, sometimes they ran errands for her, and sometimes they took tea while Corine played jacks on the wooden floor.
Mrs. Richmond always insisted that Corine and her mother, Lois, take a small token with them whenever they left. Sometimes she forgot to select the item ahead of time, and Corine would see Mrs. Richmond’s eyes dart around looking for just the right gift, which often seemed random and insignificant.
After routinely reading confusion upon Lois’s face, Mrs. Richmond would advise, “God will know what to do with this,” and gently push the item closer to Lois’s chest to show her confidence. Lois obediently kept most of the items, partly for sentimental reasons, partly because she harbored a secret desire to see Mrs. Richmond’s assertions come true.
On this visit, Mrs. Richmond offered Lois a small stationery box. Apprehensively, Lois lifted the lid, closed it, raised her eyebrows and smiled weakly. She was speechless--the box was filled with left over embroidery thread that Mrs. Richmond had been saving for years. How should one respond to a gift of old string?
Pre-empting the silence, Mrs. Richmond reminded her, “God will know what to do with them, Dear.”
Forty years later, Corine sits on the board of directors for a nonprofit organization serving a developing Central Asian country. She coordinates educational healthcare conferences and works as a liaison in the states.
One local group of women meets monthly to sew quilts for orphans there. Visiting the quilters one day, Corine noticed how each block of squares was tied off with yarn or embroidery thread. The colorful quilts and knots reminded her of that old box of thread, which she dug out of storage at home and brought to their next meeting.
Weeks later, Corine delivered the quilts to the orphanage. The caretakers were elated to receive these soft, warm blankets for children who have little means of contending with brutal winters. Corine remembered Mrs. Richmond’s insistence about the string, “God will know what to do with them.”
Forty-five years ago, Mrs. Richmond had vision and optimism about God making good things happen. Lois had faith, believing that although something doesn’t seem likely, it is possible, and Corine had the means to set the unlikely into motion. Some moments in life appear to be insignificant, but vision, faith and action woven together make powerful things happen, like comforting an orphaned child on the other side of the world.