Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters

Posted on: October 4th, 2015

Solomon, who lived ca.1000 BC, was the third king in Israel’s history, and is known as the wisest man in the Old Testament. When he became king he made a request to God, not for riches, but for wisdom to rule God’s people. We read in 1 Kings 4:29-32 that God granted his request and he became the wisest of all men. During his lifetime “he spoke (and wrote) three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five.” He is credited with writing the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.
There are a lot of wonderful lessons to be found in his books, but in this article I want to notice something he wrote in Eccl.11:1. “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” These words puzzled me for years, but I believe I understand one lesson he was teaching. If you cast your bread upon the waters (do a good deed for someone), years later you will be reciprocated by someone (not necessarily by the same person) doing something good for you. The following story I read on Facebook one day illustrates this point. I will do a little editing at the end, but it will not distract from the story. The author is not given.
“Good morning,” said a woman as she walked up to a man sitting on a bench. The man slowly looked up. This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before, “Leave me alone,” he growled. To his amazement the woman continued standing. She was smiling – her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows, “Are you hungry?” she asked.
“No,” he answered sarcastically, “I’ve just come from dining with the president. Now go away.” The woman’s smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm. “What are you doing lady?” the man asked angrily. “I said to leave me alone.”
Just then a policeman came up. “Is there a problem, ma’am?” he asked. “No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I’m just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?” The officer scratched his head. “That’s old Jack. He’s been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?”
“See that cafeteria over there?” she asked. “I’m going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.” “Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man resisted. “I don’t want to go in over there?” Then strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. “Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.” “This is a good deal for you, Jack,” the officer answered. “Don’t blow it.”
Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch crowd had not yet arrived. The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table. “What’s going on here, officer?” he asked. “What is all this, is this man in trouble?” “The lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.
“Not in here!” the manager replied angrily. “Having a person like that here is bad for business.” Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. “See, lady. I told you so. Now if you’ll let me go. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”
The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled. “Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?” “Of course I am,” the manager answered impatiently, “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.” “And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?” “What business is that of yours?” “I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company.” “Oh.”
The woman smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.” She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?” No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.” “Then perhaps a cup to go?” “Yes ma’am, that would be very nice.”
The cafeteria manager turned on his heels, “I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer.” The officer watched him walk away. “You certainly put him in his place,” he said. “That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.” She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently. “Jack, do you remember me?” Old Jack scratched his face with his old rheumy eyes. “I think so – I mean you do look familiar.”
“I’m a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I’ve even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.” “Ma’am?” the officer said questioningly. He couldn’t believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.
“I just got out of college,” The woman began. “I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn’t find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”
Jack lit up with a smile. “Now I remember,” he said. “I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”
“I know,” the woman continued. “Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble. Then when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be all right.”
“So you started your own business?” old Jack said. “I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered.” She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. “When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons. He’s the personnel director of my company. I’ll go talk with him now and I’m certain he’ll find something for you to do around the office.” She smiled. “I think he might even find funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet. If you ever need anything, my door is always open to you.”
There were tears in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he said. “Don’t thank me,” the woman answered. “To God goes the glory, Thank Jesus. He led me to you. Outside the cafeteria the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways. “Thank you for all your help officer,” she said. “On the contrary, Mrs. Eddy,” he answered, “Thank you, I saw a Christian at work today. Something I’ll never forget. And thank you for the coffee.” –anon – Old Jack cast his bread on the waters. Years later it returned to him. How about you?
Have your seen this work in your life? God’s word is always true. The Etna Enlightener