quite a trip

Throughout January, February and March of 1982 we struggled with the fact that if you want to make God laugh all you have to do is say, “My plans are….”

We moved to California with grand and ambitious plans. It’s too bad we didn’t bother to check with our Heavenly Father to see what He had in mind.

Back in the early days we honestly believed the answer to our every prayer would be “yes”. Problem was, even though we studied the Word, listened to recorded preaching every day and prayed—desperately—nothing we’d planned was happening. While it was true a lot of very special things were happening, nothing was HAPPENING!

No buyer for our Colorado house! No jobs! No let up in the unexpected expenses! With a little imagination it was almost possible to see the dollars bills flying out the doors and windows of our big beautiful five bedroom house, past the evil oak tree, and into the wind.

Our prayers became fears. And our fears became tears and terrified moans of “What is God doing? We’ve taken a leap of faith! Doesn’t He know? Doesn’t He CARE?”

By March fifteenth we realized we were in way over our heads and were going to have to do something drastic.

We called the woman who sold us our big, beautiful house with its big beautiful oak tree and asked for a meeting. We explained that our intentions were completely honorable, but the largest part of our available cash, necessary to keep things on track until our house in Colorado sold, had been taken in two major bites. We reasoned that half of that was really her expense because as seller of the property she should be responsible for the damage done by her employee.

She reminded us sweetly, “This is not Colorado. All expenses for repairs are yours—not mine.

“Well, the point of our visit is to let you know in advance that we will be a few days late with this month’s payment because of these problems. We will make the payment before the first of April.”

She assured us it would be alright. They were Christians too, she told us, they would work with us. Everything would be okay.

The March payment was due on the twenty-second. On March twentieth the door bell rang and Dick answered it only to be greeted by a Sheriff’s deputy, who presented him with a foreclosure notice! It had been filed on the sixteenth, less than 24 hours after we were assured they would work with us.

“Oh Lord! Don’t you care that we’re about to perish?”

At that point, reason said we were in big trouble, but faith said “God’s got this under control.”

To be perfectly honest, some of what we did next was probably due to our faith in our faith as opposed to our faith in God. But through it all He never stopped caring for us, providing for us or loving us.

The foreclosure process would take 90 days. We decided that if in that length of time our house in Colorado sold we would make every effort to get the mess straightened out; talk to our Christian creditor again and make good on our obligations.

It didn’t sell.

Through April, May and June our financial situation grew worse, not better. We studied the Word and we prayed.

Our son found a job. Neither Dick or I were able to do that, but our faith was being stretched. Our faith was growing! It had to grow. We had nothing else to lean on.

One Sunday morning we walked a couple of blocks to a nearby church, leaving an empty refrigerator and a check book on the counter that held a negative balance of $38.02. When we came home around noon  there was a beautiful gold chrysanthemum plant on the kitchen counter with a card saying, “This is because Jesus loves you.” There was a $50.00 bill inside. To this day we don’t know who put it there.

We took quite a trip. As I said before—a leap of faith. We ran ahead of God’s plan for us, expecting, no demanding, that He keep up. So looking back, with 20/20 hindsight, we’ve often asked, “Did God really want us in California?”

You be the judge”

Dick’s oldest son made the trip with us because his life in Colorado had fallen to pieces. He’d graduated from high-school with honors and a scholarship. Instead of university he chose marriage, against the advise of every adult in his life. Unfortunately his marriage was one of rebellion, damaged ego, and emotional need – not love. It lasted two miserable years then and fell apart. Instead of studying to become a doctor, his job as a meat cutter at the local market earned him minimum wage and a couple of very close calls with the meat saw. Just shortly before we left for the promised land his job was terminated and his divorce was final. At the ripe old age of twenty he was foot loose and fancy free. Might as well join  forces with D and e. Head for California and the good life.

“He needs an education,” we reasoned. “If he joins the armed forces he can get one at Uncle’s expense and then build a career as a computer specialist. It’s something he’s interested in.”

Sounded logical. Should work!

Fortunately God had other plans. Before visiting a recruiting office he spoke with the Youth Pastor from the church we had been attending. The Youth Pastor spoke with the Senior Pastor, who spoke with an administrator at a Christian College about 60 miles north of home. A plan began to take shape.

“Of course, it would be impossible for him to start school this year. But, perhaps if he worked for a year, he could start school next fall.”

When God plans nothing is impossible. In September of 1982 he started college with full financial backing. In 1986 he graduated cum laude, with a BA in Contemporary Ministry and a California teaching credential. Today, after more than twenty years in teaching,  he is also the Senior Minister at a small Presbyterian Church. He is married (happily this time) to a wonderful woman with two adult children who are also planning a life of serving the Lord.

Oh yes, our house in Colorado finally sold. In July! When we listed it in November our Realtor was not a believer. Her letter telling us that escrow had closed, also told us she had given her life to Christ, that she was excited and happy and planning to be married to a man she met at church.

God’s plans proved to be so much bigger and better than anything we could have asked for, or even imagined. And, looking back over our trip, our leap of faith, and our life changing crisis it is possible to see him carrying us every step of the way.

As the world around us staggers under financial meltdown, wars and rumors of war, and ever increasing Godlessness—where darkness abounds—we look back and rest in His grace.

I have the following scriptures from Ephesians 1 highlighted prominently in my old dog-eared copy of “The Living Bible”

Long ago, even before He made the world,
God chose us to be His very own,
through what Christ would do for us,
He decided then to make us holy in His eyes,
without a single fault—we who stand before Him
covered with his love
His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us
into His own family by sending Jesus Christ
to die for us. And He did this because He wanted to.

Now all praise to God for His wonderful kindness to us
and His favor that He has poured out upon us,
because we belong to His dearly loved Son.
So overflowing is His Kindness towards us that
He took away all our sins through the blood of His Son,
by whom we are saved:
And He has showered down upon us
the richness of His Grace—for how well he
understands us and knows what is best for us at all times.

Amen! Before His plans can succeed, God allows us to come to the end of ourselves. Then and only then can He truly use us, but sometimes getting to the end of oneself is really quite a trip.