Living on a one-income pastor’s salary was challenging. Growing boys
eat a lot. Cathy struggled with increased pressure on our food
Then, one day, Marketplace Grocery Store announced a drawing for a
free year’s supply of groceries. Cathy submitted her name, and
decided to pray to win the groceries. I rolled my eyes when she did
that. It reminded me of the times people told me they were praying to
win the Lotto. So far, none of those prayers have availed. So, when
Cathy started praying to win the grocery lotto, I made a joke of it.
Drawing day happened to be on Sunday. Our family sat at the breakfast
table before church, and Cathy said grace. “Dear Lord, I just want
to remind you that today’s the grocery drawing. We could sure use
them, and, if it’s your will it would be wonderful if we won.”
As soon as she said “amen”, I decided take advantage of this teaching
moment, and rebuked her right in front of the kids. “Now, Honey,
that’s not the way we’re supposed to pray. It’s not proper to ask God
for free stuff like that. God doesn't work that way -- and even if
he did, what would that teach our kids? That you can get something
“Well, I disagree,” Cathy responded. “First, I’m not demanding that
God do this. I’m just asking, and if he says “no”, I’ll be fine with
that. And secondly, if we happened to win, it would teach our
children that God loves us and that he hears and answers our prayers.”
The kids all sided with her. “Yeah, Dad! You should listen to Mom!”
I left for church in a huff.
During the worship service, I was giving announcements when the office
phone rang. One of our ushers answered, then bounded up the middle
aisle with a goofy grin on his face, waving a little piece of paper.
It was a note saying, “Marketplace Grocery Store just called. Your
family won the groceries!”
Well, this was a thrilling announcement! I shared the news with my
congregation, and they cheered, delighted that it was their poor
preacher, rather than some wealthy tourist from Minnesota, that had
hit the jackpot, and now they wouldn't have to give me a raise!
It sure was hard to preach with gravitas that Sunday, knowing that
our family had just won a years supply of groceries.
After church, we arrived home, and found our answering machine
blinking. The grocery store manager, had called our house before
dialing the church. “Hello, this is Jon from Marketplace.
Congratulations Cathy Wilson, you just won the groceries! Come to the
store as soon as you can to claim your prize!”
I feel goofy telling you about this now, but here’s what our family
did -- all seven of us held hands in a circle, jumped up and down, and
shouted with glee, “We won the groceries! We won the groceries! We
won the groceries!”
Then, one of my boys said, “Hit it again, Dad!”
So, I hit the button and we heard the message all over again, and
then repeated the jump up and down and shout exercise. We did that
four times, before finally piling into our conversion van and heading
to the store.
When we arrived at Marketplace they were waiting for us, holding a
giant check with Cathy’s name on it. Terrell, the omnipresent
photographer from the Sawyer County Record was there to cover the
He leaned over to my son, Luke, who was five, and said, “It must be
wonderful for your family to win all these groceries.”
“Yeah,” Luke answered, “Mom prayed that we would win, but Dad didn't
believe it could happen.” Cathy grinned.
“Shut up, kid,” I whispered, though I suppose he had the right to rub it in.