This is a long one.
For two weeks we have been contending with winter and poor health. A ten-inch snowstorm was followed a week later by an ice storm. During that time, I missed one whole day and two half-days of work due to acute bronchitis, the effects of which are not yet completely gone. On Monday afternoon, as I prepared to leave work and was scraping the ice off my car, I ended up with a spider-web cracked back window and a hole the size of a football in said window. A generous coworker picked me up at my house on Tuesday morning (it was definitely out of her way to do so). Later, I was talking with a student that had been shoveling the sidewalk when the window broke and he was asking about the situation. I mentioned that my home was also without electricity. He was sympathetic, which was nice. But it was also a chance to say that I believed that God was watching out for my family and that He would provide whatever we needed. The young man expressed appreciation for my outlook.
As my coworker drove me back to town, I called my brother-in-law to ask his advice (as a homebuilder, he tends to have good ideas!) on making sure our pipes wouldn't freeze as the temp was expected to drop below zero that night. He said that he had a kerosene heater that we could use, and he took the time out of his day to get it out of his barn, clean it up, and get it ready for us. He agreed to bring it to the Christmas Eve service at our church and give it to us then.
My coworker dropped me off at the church, as it was in her neighborhood, and Laurel and the boys picked me up there a few minutes later. In the meantime, I had called my folks to see how they were doing and to let them know what was going on with us. We ran some errands (lunch, a haircut for me, a couple of last-minute items for Christmas) and then went home to get ready for the service.
By the time we were ready to go, both my folks and my sister's family had offered to let us spend the night at their respective homes to stay warm. When we got to the church early for rehearsal, conversations there led to similar offers from the pastor's family and an elder's family. We also learned of several other church families that were without electricity. One couple offered to let me pick up kerosene from their home after the service to use with my brother-in-law's heater.
The service was simple, but beautiful. The special music was soul-stirring. The sermon was short, but powerful in reminding us that our Savior was born to die that we might live, that He became poor that we might receive Him and be rich. My heart still swells with joy at the love of God for His people, and I am so grateful that He has made me His own!
After the service, another man in the church offered us the use of a small generator (brand new, still in the box, he said) to power our furnace, so that we would at least stay warm. He said he'd provide gas for it, too, to save me the trouble of getting some, as my gas can is inside a shed I can't access just now (door frozen to ground). My brother-in-law offered to bring it to us and hook it up, as our furnace is hard-wired and would need a handyman to connect it safely (and I'm no handyman). We agreed that this was a better solution than the space heater, especially since it would help the whole house.
All the arrangements were made. He would pick up the generator and other necessary supplies and come to our house later. The elder that offered us a place to stay would call and check on us to see if we would be coming that night or if we'd want to go to their home on Christmas. The boys were exhausted and needed sleep. We still had presents to wrap, of course.
As we drove into our town, I suddenly noticed that some homes had lights where darkness had held sway earlier. Then, about a mile from the house, we saw a utility truck, with men hard at work. Hope began to rise in our hearts. Alas, it was still dark on our stretch, so I parked the car carefully to allow room for my brother-in-law and me to get the necessary supplies to the house to set up the generator.
We went into the house, where Laurel promptly put the boys to bed in their sleeping bags. I stayed downstairs in the candlelight, trying to clear a space for my brother-in-law to work. The elder called to see what our plans were. I thanked him, as I had thanked my folks, my pastor, and my sister, and said that we would stay in our own home for the night, but promised I would call again if our plans changed.
I also called the power company to try to find out approximately when our electricity might be on again. The woman with whom I spoke was very gracious. As I gave her my name and address she said, “Oh!”
She was about to say that the problem that affected us had taken out 1,000 customers in one fell swoop. However, as she spoke, I interrupted. “Oh! Our power is on!” I got off the phone and went upstairs, where I told Laurel and the boys that the power really was on; it wasn’t the generator. They prayed and thanked God for that. I called my brother-in-law, who had gone home for some parts before picking up the generator, and told him he could spend Christmas Eve with his family.
My heart was already filled with thanksgiving to God for who He is and for what He has done for my family and for me, but this really showcased so much of how He has provided for us. His grace was at work through the generosity of so many people, and then He provided the power itself to restore what we really needed.
We are called to obey. We are called to walk by faith and to trust in His goodness. Walking by faith in these circumstances this week seemed to involve trying to solve our problems with the knowledge of how life works and with the wisdom God has promised to give us. Triple-A got my car home on Monday (too far to drive with too great a likelihood of having tiny shards of glass all over the back seat of my car), and Geico will send Safelite to my home next Monday to replace the broken window. I asked for help, and friends and family responded.
Asking for help involves humility and grace. The kindness of strangers, family and friends were demonstrations of grace. Contentment with or giving thanks in all circumstances is a command of God, and yet He also provides the means of obedience. I was tempted to complain, but a colleague pointed out on Tuesday that I have a full-time job now, and as difficult or as challenging as this situation seems, I have the financial means to deal with it that I did not have a year ago! The more I thought about his words, the more I started thanking God for each means of grace in this situation.
God is good. God has been good to us. God is being good to us, and God will continue to be good to us. That’s who He is. It is not based on my faithfulness to Him, as I have none apart from His grace. It is based in His character and His love.
I have much to thank God for. This week’s little twists and turns have proven to be a microcosm of God’s faithfulness, goodness and love for us. In a bigger picture, the provision of full time employment in a position that matches my gifts and skills is an answer to prayer that took more than a day or two to work out. The same steps of trust and faith were required, though the process was longer than getting heat and electricity back in the house. More than that, however, is all the circumstances of life and God’s provision in every single one. Godly parents and upbringing, godly and loving wife, faithful pastors and churches, discipleship in Christ, children, family, friends, coworkers—every situation and every life intertwined are in the hands of our good, faithful, loving, holy God. I cannot imagine a better place to be than that.
My heart is bursting with gratitude for such a wondrous love from the God Who Provides. Thank you, Lord.