I have written occasionally here, but probably not often enough, about the amazing ways that God has provided for us in myriad ways during our time in seminary. Although this provision comes in a variety of ways one of most significant, both in terms of my concern and God’s provision (funny how those often go hand-in-hand) is financial.
This time of year is the most financially straining for us. My financial aid from the classis and the seminary gets applied twice a year – at the beginning of September and at the end of January. Thus, the monies received in September have to last us five months. Since I am an advocate of not borrowing any more than I absolutely need every year about this time we come close to ‘running out’.
Now, I have lots of avenues to get additional funds if I need them --family, church, even the seminary – all of whom are able and willing to help out in a pinch if need be. In fact, just over a week ago, I told Jessica that I didn’t think we’d able to make our rent payment for January and we might have to ask for some assistance to ‘get us by’ until the next round of financial aid came in. I was just about ready to do just that when two amazing things happened…both of which are nothing less than God’s gracious provision.
First, we received a substantial financial gift from some friends. Totally unexpected and unsolicited. The other is best shared in pictures.
This past Sunday night, the kids had their Christmas program at church. Afterwards, we drove around some neighborhoods in Grand Rapids to look at lights. When we came home we found this on our doorstep:
I picked it up and discovered that it was quite heavy. So I brought it in the house, set it on the counter, and opened it up. This is what we found inside:
Last night, the kids and I separated it all out into bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies (and a couple $1 coins):
When it was all said and done, we counted out over $285.00 crammed into this Country Crock margarine container! We have absolutely no idea who left it or why. And those that left it probably want it that way. Maybe -- some way, some how -- they will run across this blog entry and they will know that they were a big part of God’s provision for our family. You see, when you put these two Christmas gifts together they nearly equal our monthly rent payment.
God is with us and you and even (perhaps especially) with the families in Sandy Hook, Connecticut in surprising and often unexpected ways. That is, after all, what Advent is all about – remembering, rediscovering, and waiting for the unexpected -- Immanuel, God with us. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger”(Luke 2: 10-12).
Those lowly shepherds went to Bethlehem and saw an amazing gift of grace in a suprisingly unexpected place. This lowly seminary student and his family came home and found an amazing gift of grace in a suprisingly unexpected place – twice. “The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen…” (Luke 2:20). And, as a family, so are we. God’s gracious provision in a manger and on a doorstep. Glory to God in the highest…