I lay in the brown leather recliner in our attic, the chair where I have fed my three babies these last six years and spent countless nights with each newborn, rocking, nursing, snacking with the hunger of a new mother, and dozing when I could. Because of this, I always think of that chair sentimentally, but this August weekend it would be drained of nostalgia. This weekend I spent three days in that chair, coughing and wheezing as I fought a nasty bronchitis and resurgent asthma that I thought I had outgrown twenty years ago. I wanted to spend this last weekend before school started buying school supplies with my kids, laying out clothes for the first day, and enjoying the last days of summer vacation. Instead, I lay in the brown leather recliner in our attic, struggling to breathe, and trying not to let anxiety envelop me.
I struggle with anxiety, particularly surrounding illness. When my children are sick, I get nauseous and dizzy imagining every worst-case scenario as they endure the typical spate of childhood illnesses. And my oldest daughter has asthma, which means that any of those illnesses can trigger an asthma attack. In fact, the week before my weekend in the brown recliner, Lydia almost died of an asthma attack. It was with the weight of that recent ordeal and my own struggle to get well that I spent the weekend in that chair.
Our Old Testament reading this week is the story of Elijah and the widow at Zarephath. Elijah has a word from the Lord to go to Zarephath and meet this widow, and when he gets there and sees her, he asks her for water and bread. “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replies, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” (1 Kings 17:12).
I ate very little during my weekend in the brown leather recliner. Between the sickness and the anxiety, I had almost no appetite. But as the weekend wore on, I did get hungry, only I didn’t want any of the food we had in our house. I thought to myself, “The only thing I could eat right now is pizza, but we don’t have any.” My husband had spent the weekend taking care of our kids and making me as comfortable as possible, and I didn’t want to bother him with a request for pizza. As the day wore on and I couldn’t stomach the egg sandwich, smoothie, or applesauce that Phil brought up to me, I considered ordering pizza over the phone, which I’ve never done before. I continued taking my two inhalers, antibiotics, Motrin, and sedative for the anxiety that felt like a greater threat to my ability to breathe than the asthma or bronchitis. And I knew I needed to eat something to help my body heal, but all I could think about was pizza.
Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. (1 Kings 17:13-16)
Suddenly on Sunday evening, the doorbell rang. Phil got it, and it was a pizza delivery guy with an enormous order—four pizzas, thirty breadsticks, wings, and sauce galore. We looked at each other: “Did you order this?” “No.” “Did you order this?” “No.” The delivery guy was in a hurry to leave, only saying, “It’s all paid for” before speeding away. Several people knew that I was sick, and I immediately attributed the delivery to their kindness. But Phil thought such a large delivery was strange, and he called the restaurant to verify that the order was for us. Sure enough, it was all paid for, with only a credit card number and no name. So the anonymous feast was ours to keep.
I ate three pieces of pizza as I continued to rest in the brown chair, ravenous after two days of eating so little. And as I finished my last piece, the pizza delivery guy showed up at our door again. “Sorry about that order,” he said. “Wrong address. You can keep it if you want, but if you’re not going to eat it, my manager wants it back for inventory.” Having eaten only one pizza, we gave the rest of the order back. I was still two weeks away from recovering from my bronchitis, and I’ve had several challenging asthma episodes since my weekend in the brown recliner. I’m working to understand and treat my anxiety, but I will never forget the simple blessing of that accidental pizza delivery, when God said to me, “Your jar of flour will not be used up and your jug of oil will not run dry.”
What is your accidental pizza? I would love to hear how God has showed up at your door when you felt hopeless, lonely, or simply in need of a surprise delivery.