The story of how God supplied two miracles to meet our need and what we learned about the importance of community, obedience, and provision.
When we lived in Scotland, I worked in the Oil and Gas industry as a Quality Engineer, and Joyce was the homemaker. My career was on the way up, and I felt that God called me to sow financially into the Kingdom. I had my five, ten, and twenty-year plan. Our children were happy, and we had the financial resources at our fingertips to send them to private schools, onto university, and boost them into their choice of career. We were content in all things, lacked nothing, and loved our church and community. The future looked bright.
All that flipped when we obeyed the Lord and came to the USA on student visas for me to begin my doctoral work. Visa work restrictions mean that our family supports itself on the income from my 20 hours per week job, which in no way compares to our income back in the UK. As you can imagine, we are living in an entirely different world. Through good budgeting skills and God’s grace, we have always had the bills paid, our children clothed, and food on the table. Not one of us has wanted for anything. However, at the back of my mind, I am always aware that at any time a substantial unexpected bill could sink us.
More often and not these unexpected bills came as repairs for our 1994 Buick LeSabre. It was our only car. Suwanee Family Life Church in Georgia blessed us with it when we got to America in January 2017. We were exceedingly thankful for it because in America you can’t do anything without a car. However, every few months there was something wrong with it. We forked out a bomb in car repairs over the 18 months we had it. So much so, that the car turned into the embodiment of our struggles in America. It became the symbol of everything unpleasant in our lives. Fortunately, the Lord always sent people to help us during those times it broke down or needed repairs. The church which blessed us with it helped with some repairs and our home church, Woodlake Church, helped us too. The Lord working through community kept us afloat.
In June 2018 and many repairs later, a transmission failure wrote the Buick off. It happened at the most inopportune time. Joyce was near her due date with Baby Adalyn and without a car we were seriously inconvenienced if the baby came early. Our situation seemed grave. We had no car, no savings because our income made it impossible to save, and our immigration status and income-level made it impossible to get finance.
By obeying the Lord we’d become a burden
I felt humiliated because I knew that people had helped us financially who should not be. I was in my late thirties, at this stage in my life I should be the one helping others financially. All I ever wanted to do was be a blessing to the church, but it seemed to me that by obeying the Lord I had become a burden.
In my mind, I heard the voices of the scorners look at our predicament and say, “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!” (Ps 22.8, NKJV). They said, “What type of father and husband uproots his family and moves them half-way across the world? He had a career. His family’s needs were met. He had everything. How irresponsible can one person be?”
I knew the scorners said these things because I would perhaps say the same things if I was looking at our situation from afar. However, I did not care what the naysayers and scorners said because I was sure we walked obediently to God’s call. The Lord had given us our cup to drink, and we were drinking from it. The onus was on him to take care of us.
Miracle Number One
Joyce and I stayed strong because we knew God had our backs, and within days he proved it so. Our friends at Woodlake Church gathered round, helped us, prayed for us, and probably did thousands of other things behind the scenes of which we are unaware. One kind family gave us one of their cars to run around in until we got a replacement. But it was a mystery to us how we were going to get a replacement because everything we looked into was not an option. Immigration and income tied our hands.
We prayed and felt the Lord telling us to contact the church who gifted us the Buick in the first place. We thought that they might be gracious and allow us to finance a car through them. The pastor said he would see what he could do. In the days that followed the church got back in touch with us and said they had found a perfect second-hand car for our growing family and bought it. When we asked about paying it back they said that in prayer the Lord had spoken to the leadership and told them to give it to us gratis. They only asked that we praise and thank God for the car.
We received the car one Saturday afternoon and drove to the ice cream shop to celebrate with the children. This was more than an answer to our prayers. We prayed for help finding a car, but it went beyond anything we could ask or think to receive it as a gift.
Miracle Number two
The next Wednesday we were at Woodlake Church’s prayer meeting. After the meeting one of the pastors called me aside and basically said, “Robert, we have a car for you.”
I thought that there must be some misunderstanding. “What do you mean? We already have a new car.”
“I know, but someone’s donated a car for you. As far as we’re concerned, it is your car and you can have it if you like.”
I asked for a day or two to think about it and pray over it. Joyce and I wanted to take care because now that we had a car we did not want to accept this one when another family in need might require it. However, we prayed, and we felt the Lord telling us that our season was changing and we would need the convenience of the extra car for what he planned. So, a few days later we got back in touch with Woodlake Church and told them we would take the car. A few more weeks passed, and we took possession of it.
What We Learned
This experience taught us a lot, but two things worth commenting on are, the importance of community and the importance of obedience and provision.
The importance of community
Christian’s life is a journey that takes place within the community (I.e., the church). The church is the Body of Christ, and we each have a distinct role to play in it. It is a place of shared meaning that we give into and from which we receive. There were times when Joyce and I poured in liberally in the Body of Christ and never received anything back. There are also times like just now, where we have little to give, but the Body of Christ is pouring into us. We know that sooner or later we will be in the position to contribute back into the body. That is how it works. It’s a cycle of giving and receiving that blesses everyone who participates.
Granted, the church is not a perfect place. It, like everywhere else on the planet, is full of imperfect people. But as a church member, we belong to a believing community that explains and practices the words of eternal life. This is the best place to be, because we are in a community with people seeking to emulate Jesus and, with different measures of success, treat each other as Jesus would.
Obedience and provision
We knew we obeyed God when we moved to America, so the onus was on him to take care of us. Throughout our journey, we learned that obedience comes first and then the provision follows. Provision never comes first. The bible is clear that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11.6). Therefore, to please God by walking in faith, it is necessary that the provision does not come until we take the first step of obedience. Having learned this, and because we were walking in obedience, we knew God had our backs. Knowing this gave us peace throughout the whole dilemma.
Having said all this, please take heart in our example. No matter what you may be going through the Holy Spirit is at work in your life, the life of your family, and loved ones. But things will be a whole lot easier if you live in a community with other believers and obey the Lord.