I remember the first time I ate calamari. I grew up in a family that didn’t veer too far from meat & potatoes and the thought of eating deep fried squid would have been as foreign as an Albertan moving to Saskatchewan. For the first 23 years of my life my taste pallet had never experienced the sweet rubbery texture of these little sea creatures and I am still dealing with the deep sense of bitterness I continue to feel towards my parents for not introducing them to me sooner (just kidding).

I remember the first time I ate calamari but it’s not for the reasons you may think. It actually has nothing to do with the newness of the dish to me, its taste or the presentation on my plate. I wish I had an incredibly funny story where you read my words, laugh out loud and proceeded to tell all of your friends the hilarity of Brad’s first calamari experience. Unfortunately I don’t have such a story. I do, however, remember the first time I ate calamari … and this is why:

My wife and I were newly married and I was a year into being a youth pastor at a great church in Regina. I loved the people there and was in awe that I was able to work with some incredible staff. From the outside everything looked great; beautiful wife, successful ministry and I drove a sweet 1997 Toyota Tercel hatchback with a sunroof (I know, you’re super jealous). From the outside we put up a great front but it was a very difficult and lonely time for Karen and myself. We found our schedules to be incredibly full in the evenings, we found our bank account to be incredibly empty and we were struggling to navigate marriage and ministry together. It was difficult and lonely time.

Then one day some dear friends of ours gave us a gift. These friends were youth leaders in our ministry and they served so faithfully alongside us every Tuesday and Friday night. These 3 girls loved Jesus and wanted nothing but to see God use them whenever possible. These poor University students gathered their hard earned money together and gave us a gift card to a very nice restaurant in town. A restaurant I know they couldn’t afford on their own.  I don’t know what prompted them to pool their resources but I’m almost positive God whispered in their ears. There was enough money on the gift card that allowed us to order something on the menu that I had never ordered before … calamari.

I remember the first time I ate calamari. It was the night that brought such incredible hope to my wife and I and it was a night that encouraged us more than these girls will ever know.  A simple gift that brought such incredible hope to keep going at a time we just needed something.

Who needs hope around you? Who has God placed in your life that may be going through something difficult? If you listen close enough maybe God is whispering “can you be Jesus to them for me?”. You never know, maybe a simple act is exactly what that person needs right now.