It was a Tuesday morning before our monthly board meeting, and I’d arrived at Connections Shelter to find that one of our families had again used abusive language toward staff, the fifth time in as many days. They had been warned that they had only one more chance, but I really didn’t want to be the one to say they were losing their shelter and would have to go back to sleeping in their car while they looked for an apartment. While I waited for calls back from the school social worker and staff members who’d borne the brunt of their insults, I looked at the staffing schedule and realized that we were once again short a weekend overnight person, and the person we’d hired had sent an email saying she couldn’t start until the next weekend.
Again, a flurry of texts and calls went out to see who would cover, and I turned to the financial reports for our board meeting, so could compare to where we were last year. The result piled more discouragement on: $12,000 behind in our giving compared to the previous year. And just as I finished lamenting this with my colleague, Pastor Erica, my phone rang.
“Your son just threw up at school. You’ve got to come pick him up.”
Breathing out a tear-filled sigh, I said to Pastor Erica, “I’m going to get him settled in at home and then I’ll be back so we can figure out how to face this garbage pile.”
All the way to the middle school, I prayed. As I tucked my son in his bed with water and his iPad, I prayed. As I waited in the Arby’s drive through, I prayed. “Jesus, we just can’t. It’s too much. You’ve got to fix it.”
Armed with curly fries and caffeinated beverages, I walk back into our shelter office ready to battle our circumstances. But before we could even start eating to fuel up, the phone rang.
“We got an apartment!” Our beloved and challenging family crowed. “And we are coming to the shelter to get our stuff because we can move in today!” It was the middle of the month, and they were using rental assistance, so those of you who know public housing know how impossible this scenario should’ve been. Erica set down the phone and we just stared at each other open-mouthed. Thank you, Jesus.
While we were still awestruck at this housing miracle, my phone buzzed. It was a text from our newly hired staff person: “I can actually start this weekend. Can I come in for training tomorrow?” Absolutely. Yes please. Again, thank you Jesus.
With two problems solved, and my son still doing fine in his bed at home, I said, “Okay, let’s check the mail and see if maybe we can get a few more checks to make our financial picture look less bleak”. When I got downstairs to the mailbox, it was jammed so full it took pulling and wiggling to get the whole pile out.
Every single envelope contained a check.
As I opened each one, I added the number on its check to the calculator on my phone. When I was done, I just held it up for Erica to see, unable to speak. $12,200. Just a little more than exactly how much we’d been behind that morning.
As we laughed and cried and breathed a bit of new life in, we realized that every one of these miracles that had come to us within an hour had been in the works for days previous. Before we’d ever prayed those desperate prayers, Jesus was at work on what only he knew we’d need. While we were still thinking maybe we had this all together, Jesus was putting together a rescue plan that would be ready when everything fell apart.
“Ok, Jesus” we prayed with laughter, “we get it. You’ve already got this. You’ve already done it. We will try to trust you better tomorrow.”