The Great Provider

November is typically looked upon as a time for us to count our blessings, and express gratitude.  Even those who do not share in a relationship with God, through His Son Jesus, often gather at the Thanksgiving table with family and friends and discuss something for which they are thankful.  

I have so many things for which I’m thankful to God, but often overlook doing so.  Yet there is one particular season of time while I was a single parent, that I will forever be grateful to God for seeing me through. It’s a time  I hope I’ll  never overlook.  But my appreciation for God having met specific needs of mine is not unique to His character.  Many people in the Bible knew what tough times were like too, and had distinct needs that required the Lord to meet in a very personal way.   

In Genesis, God met a basic need that Adam and Eve discovered they had for clothing, by killing an animal (see Genesis 3:21).  Then there were the Israelites whom He led out of Egypt, whose need for water brought forth it springing from a rock. (see Exodus 17:6)  Then In 1 Kings 17:6 He used crows to bring bread twice a day to the prophet Elijah during a great famine.   God provided housing for Joseph and Mary, during a time when they needed it most (see Luke 2:4-7).  It may not have been the Ritz-Carlton where we would expect the King of all Kings to be born, but He faithfully met their needs.

One summer in particular, I too, had great provisional needs that required a great God.  But my story is a little different, because I wasn’t one of the first humans on the planet like we see in Genesis, and I wasn’t traveling across a desert as an Israelite in the book of Exodus, nor a great prophet like Elijah. And I most certainly wasn’t an expectant parent of the Messiah.  Yet God would prove Himself faithful to me; just the same. 

During the summer of 2001, I found myself in great need, after becoming homeless the night before I was to start a new job.  The years I spent as a single-parent were never easy, but the added burden of homelessness added a new element to the word ‘challenging’.  So that first night I did what any other single-mom who lacked money would do; I found a safe neighborhood parking lot to pull into, and my girls and I slept in our two-door car.  

The following day, as my world was falling apart, a friend of mine cared for my daughters while I arrived at work hoping to make a good first impression.  As the days progressed, Various friends stepped up to watch my daughters so I could go to work, hoping to build up enough money to rent a place for us to live.  

But as you might have guessed, sleeping in a car and appearing your best the next day for your new employer isn’t ideal, and thankfully God knew it.    

My friend who had taken care of my kids that first day, had been asked months earlier to house sit for several families that had some vacations coming up.  Knowing I needed a place to stay with my children, my friend asked those families if they’d be willing to allow my daughters and I to house sit in his place.  And because God is the God of provision; every one of those families said “yes”.  

God’s timing is always perfect.  I don’t always see it as such when I’m running in panic mode, but when I step back and look at His history of provisions, I’m ashamed I’ve ever doubted.  

Because each of the families had scheduled their vacations immediately following the other, there was not one night in which my children and I didn’t have a roof over our heads and beds to sleep in for roughly four weeks.  I was giddy with joy, and filled with great relief when I learned of how God had orchestrated each of these families’ getaways, to accommodate the great need I had!   Many of these families weren’t even Christians, yet God had given their hearts a peace that was needed to allow a complete stranger the blessing of their homes.

As summer began to draw to a close, and people began to settle back into their everyday lives, the need for a house sitter grew dim.  My only option that remained was a homeless shelter in the downtown area to stay at while I continued to save up money for housing expenses. While the shelter appeared to be imminent in my future, there was a lady from a local Christian Church who had been desperately seeking to find a better housing solution for my children and I.  I had shared with this warm-hearted woman that I only needed a place for perhaps another three weeks and then I’d be in a financial position to secure a more permanent residence.  I had felt so secure through the blessing of the temporary homes God had provided  that I really began to trust Him with the realization that the shelter would be our next home.

Then on our last day of house sitting, minutes before we needed to vacate, the phone rang.  It was the sweet lady from the local church, beaming with a voice of enthusiasm, as she relayed the good news of a home!  She shared that she was finally able to reach Bruce and Diana, an elderly couple who were well-established in the church and had just returned back from a vacation.  She was thrilled as she conveyed to me that they would be able to accommodate our needs, and they were looking forward to having us in their home.  

We arrived as welcomed guests, and were warmly greeted by the couple as if we were family.  Bruce and Diana informed me that they occupied a room on the first floor of their home, and permitted us to have the whole second floor to ourselves.  My girls shared a room, and had their own bathroom, while I had a room to myself, with a private bathroom attached.  I emphasized to Bruce and Diana that with my stable job, I would only need to stay for three weeks…tops!  

But God sometimes has other plans for us.  

A week or two into our stay with Bruce and Diana, my stable job collapsed.  Along with losing my only form of income, a close relationship I valued, also ended. I began to crumble, which led to me falling apart emotionally, on this wonderful couple’s kitchen floor.  I sobbed hysterically in front of them, while crying out from the pit of my crushed spirit, a lot of past hurts.  I had always been very tightly wound as a single parent, ready to just snap, and at that moment; I did.  The bandwidth of my emotional capacity, at that point; was stretched beyond what I could handle.  

I had no plans to fall apart that night, or any night I was a guest in their home.  But the truth was, God knew exactly what I needed and when, and for what reason.  I had carried overwhelming pain for years inside of me, with no place safe to let it out…until then.  These sweet Christian people that had embraced us in their home sat patiently for several hours while I cried about deep-rooted brokenness.  I’d love to tell you that my crying that night was an isolated event while I was there, but it wasn’t.  It became pretty clear that God’s plan for their particular houseguest was much different than for the purpose of ‘saving money’ and moving out after a three-week period.  

Though they had the outward appearance of an older couple, what I really saw reflected from them, was Jesus. My girls and I spent nearly a year staying with Bruce and Diana, as God helped me to become more emotionally stable through various forms of help I needed.  It was not an easy task for this couple to journey with me, as I spent a great deal of my time there a complete mess.  Shortly before I moved out, I learned that the church they belonged to, (that had connected us to their home), had also financially provided for some additional costs that I wasn’t able to cover on my own. 

I will never forget that Bruce and Diana had once shared with me how they had considered sealing off their second floor once they built a new master bedroom downstairs.   But a wise pastor of theirs told them at the time, that if they chose not to seal up that area, God would find a use for that part of the house, and that He would fill the rooms of their upstairs with His purpose.  Upon hearing that, they elected to not seal that space, which eventually allowed for my daughters and I to have a safe place to live, while the Lord worked to slowly rebuild me. 

I’m writing this amazing story of His, from an upstairs room in my own home nearly 20 years later.  I can’t help feeling excited over how He may elect to fill this upstairs He’s given me, (once my children are someday grown) as He did with Bruce and Diana’s home.  I share with you His story of great provision and bountiful giving during the season of Thanksgiving, with an emotionally grateful heart.

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