A while ago, I heard the story behind the song “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” by John Fawcett, and it impacted me greatly. The story has always stuck with me, and I thought it would be fun to retell it my own way—trying to keep the historical facts in place, but taking liberties in recreating the story the way I thought best to portray it when there were no historical facts to give me guidance. The following is part one of four of the story I have recreated. John and Mary are real people, and what happens really did happen. All others in the story are fictitious—I do know that John and Mary had children at this time, but I haven’t been able to find their names or how many there were when this happened.
I hope you’ll be encouraged as you read.
A Pot of Broth—part 1
“John,” Mary was worried. “The rent is due any day, and the children are sick. We need to find something new—soon.” She turned from looking at the chilly, gray spring day, and closed the door firmly behind her.
“I know, Mary.” John pushed his black hair away from his forehead, resting his hand on his face for several seconds before taking it down and looking into his wife’s eyes again. “I know, dear, but we must be patient. The Lord has always provided for us before, has He not? We must trust….”
“John, look at Annie here! She badly needs broth, and there is nothing but a few shriveled onions on the shelf and some salt-pork outside the door! John, if we don’t find a parish that can pay you more than just food once in a while, I’m afraid we’ll all starve!” Bursting into tears, she covered her face with her hands for several quiet seconds.
“Mary, come here.” John stood up, and moved toward his wife. Drawing her to himself gently, he spoke softly in her ear. “I know it’s hard dear, but we need to keep trusting Him anyway. Come, let’s pray.”
Shuddering sobs still shook her body, but she stood silently and he led in prayer. “Lord, you know how we need your guidance. You know how the children are sick and we have hardly any food in the house. Please help us to find another place if it is your will, and for now please protect us with your Almighty Hand.”
“And Lord—” she knew her voice was rough with tears, but it didn’t matter. “Please, give me patience and help the children to get better.”
“In Jesus’ name,” John said. Together they breathed “Amen.”
“Mary, we must trust. Jesus said that ‘Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.’* We must trust that He will provide.”
“I know, John. I find it hard sometimes to do that. Thank you for praying—it has made things seem better somehow.” Squaring her shoulders, she went to the bucket of water and dipped some out into a pot which she hung over the fire to boil.
Someone knocked at the door, and suddenly fear grabbed her heart. Is this the landlord? Did he come for his payment? “John?” she tremulously asked, and by his concerned face as he stepped quickly to the door, she knew he mirrored her thoughts.
Unlatching the door, he swung it wide. “Pastor John!” It was a woman’s voice, Barbara’s to be exact! Gratefully, Mary moved to stand by her husband.
“Barbara! It’s so good to see you!” Warmly, she hugged the woman and then gently took her hand. “Please come in. Would you like some tea?”
“Oh, I can’t stay long.” Barbara said, “But I thought you up here might be a needin’ somethin’ fer your family—seein’ some of your children are sick and all, so I thought I might bring a chicken and a few potatoes by.” As she spoke, she pushed a basket in Mary’s hands and handed a small sack to John.
Hearing the woman’s words, Mary’s eyes filled with tears. “Oh Barbara, thank you! God must have sent you—I was just thinking some broth would do Annie good!” She gave the woman another hug. “Thank you.”
The woman turned, and hurried down the path. As she latched the gate behind her she called, “Glad I could help! God bless ye!”
As they watched her go, John glanced at his wife. “The Lord provides.” He said confidently, clutching the sack firmly.
“He does indeed.” The tears still gently flowed down Mary’s cheeks. The departing figure turned to wave once, and she returned the gesture. “He is faithful.”
“Now, I should go take care of this chicken.” John chuckled. “I have a feeling there will be a little girl here who’d be glad for some broth.” Moving out of the doorway, he went about his task.
Mary continued to gaze at the place where she had seen the woman disappear over the hill. “He provides,” she whispered, before she stepped to the table and began cutting up some potatoes to stew with the chicken.