Some would say our dog Jack is spoiled. After all, he eats and drinks out of crystal bowls. At least that’s what it looks like. The truth is far different.
Years ago, Nate was running an errand to Ace Hardware to copy a key. When he returned, he came in all excited, calling for me. “I bought you something!” he said, with a big smile.
Handing me a heavy brown bag, he said, “You’re gonna love these.”
I couldn’t imagine what might come from Ace that I would love, but inside, wrapped in multiple plastic bags, were four glass bowls, each one big enough for a massive fruit arrangement. I couldn’t think of a thing to say.
It was one of those moments when I knew I should share his enthusiasm, but running through my head were all the negatives: Four identical bowls? Giant ones? Where would I store them? How could I use so many? What about the many bowls I already had?
Nate saw my confusion and said, “Glass bowls! I know how much you love glass!”
Still fishing for the right words, I said, “Mmmm.”
He nodded and continued. “And you wouldn’t believe the price! Only two bucks each! If they’d had any more, I’d have bought ‘em all!”
Grateful to receive four bowls instead of 24, I finally found something to say. “Thanks so much!”
The bowls ended up stored in a stack on the dining room floor, since the cupboards were already full. Seeing them always reminded Nate of his bargain purchase, prompting him to tell dinner guests how he came to such a fabulous find. Gradually I gained appreciation for the bowls and especially for Nate’s kindness in thinking of me.
When we moved to the cottage with the four bowls, we were squeezing two houses worth of stuff into one and had a bowl-crisis for sure. I asked every visitor, “Want a pressed glass bowl?” For nearly a year there were no takers, but eventually one bowl went to a new home. Eventually Jack got two of the bowls, which left one for people-food-use.
Whenever I fill Jack’s bowls, I’m reminded of Nate. And on the heels of that, I’m thankful I didn’t voice my negative thoughts when he presented the bowls on that day long ago. The fact that I held back had nothing to do with me and everything to do with God’s answer to a long-standing request.
I’ve often asked the Lord to stop me from saying wrong things. He’s done it again and again, sealing my lips in the nick of time. The day Nate gave me the bowls, it was God who kept me from blurting out something that would have hurt Nate’s feelings. Now, each time I see Jack’s “crystal”, I’m thankful, not necessarily for the bowls but that I didn’t say the wrong thing. Had I voiced my thoughts that day, every time I fed the dog, I’d feel awful.
Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent.” So when I’m thinking like a fool as I was on bowl-gift-day, silence was God’s direct answer to my prayer.
And that’s crystal clear.
“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3)