The Unsharpened Knife
The Russians had a custom that took place immediately after each meal. The wife or mother would sharpen the large kitchen knife on the edge of the table. It was a token of their trust that there would be another meal to look forward to.
A certain wealthy Russian widow owned a lovely home, two thousand acres of land, one hundred fifty milk cows, fifty horses, servants, and over fifty thousand dollars in the safe when the war broke out.
The invading soldiers took her land, burned her home, scattered or killed her servants, confiscated all her money, and led away her cows and horses. She was penniless. Only a small barn remained.
Her son and daughter-in-law were both killed, leaving to her care three orphaned grandchildren—a girl fourteen, another eight, and the third six.
Living in the barn and working as best they could, they soon found themselves almost completely destitute. With the two eldest girls and the grandmother working from early in the morning till late at night, and the youngest knitting socks, a little black bread and milk was their total remuneration.
Once the little family ended their noon meal only to realize that they were not working that day and there was absolutely nothing in the way of bread or milk in the house. The grandmother assured the children that God would somehow provide their evening meal.
“But, grandmother,” the little girl said, “you don’t really believe that we’re going to get anything to eat tonight, do you?”
“Why, of course I do.” The concerned and burdened grandmother replied. “What makes you think that?”
Because you didn’t sharpen the knife after lunch, that’s why.”
The worried grandmother did not realize that she had forgotten to perform the prayerful act of faith in sharpening the knife. But the little girl had noticed it, so she gave the knife a few extra strokes across the makeshift table she had made from discarded lumber behind their barn home. She prayed with each stroke.
“There that does it!” she said proudly. “God will provide our dinner. You just wait and see.”
“Let me sharpen it some,” the little girl said as she gently took the knife from her grandmother.
As she made the symbolic gesture she had seen her own mother and now her grandmother do so many times, she prayed out loud.
“Lord, please don’t send us just a piece of bread. Send us a whole loaf; for you know Lord, we need a whole loaf.”
That evening there was no bread. It was a severe test of faith to the godly grandmother who knew the children were expecting the answer to the little girl’s prayer.
Before bedtime there was a knock on the door. As the door was opened, there stood a man, an old friend of the former prosperous years. He also had been wealthy, but had been the victim of the invaders. He had walked over eighteen miles that day to see them. As he sat down with eager eyes watching his every move and gesture, he said apologetically that he hardly knew why he had come, but that he had been deeply impressed to visit his old friend, the grandmother. Then turning to the grandchildren, he asked.
“You children don’t know what I have brought for you.”
“Yes we do,” said the little one.
“Oh, yeah, what have I brought you?” he asked with a big smile.
“You have brought a loaf of bread—not a piece of bread, but a whole loaf.” She answered.
“Well, well,” the elderly man replied, how in the world did you know that?”
“Because,” the little girl continued very enthusiastically, “we prayed to God to send us a loaf of bread. And we prayed for Him to send us a full large loaf, because we needed it.”
“Well,” he said again, “that’s exactly what I have for you. That is the impression I got.”
And out from under his heavy winter coat he drew out one of the long loaves which the European bakers take from their ovens.