Many families all over the world will open their Bibles on Christmas Day and read aloud the story of the birth of a baby boy from Luke Chapter 2 in praise of the Savior who gave us the greatest gift of all—Salvation! This is the season when we typically pause and reflect on the blessings and trials we experienced during the year. My family and I have no doubt received many blessings, but it’s also been one of the most difficult years for us trial-wise that we can long remember.
I have not had a full-time job since I was laid off due to the recession in 2009. I’ve been working some short-term IT contracts to pay the bills, but my last contract ended in July. I’ve not been able to land IT work since. I’ve applied for over 700 jobs. If one more person tells me I’m over-qualified, I think I’ll scream. I even had one person tell me that since I write IT books, I must not have a lot of real hands-on experience, just theoretical knowledge. I didn’t even know how to respond to that one.
We started a publishing business in June 2012, but if you’ve ever started a business yourself, then you know how long it can take to start producing a regular income. Our daughter is in college—an expensive college, and we’re determined to do everything we can to keep her there. As bleak as things may seem at times, God is providing tremendous blessings through it all. You may not see them as blessings, but to us, nothing could ever be greater.
So far with His help, I’ve published 9 print books and 8 eBooks for 17 books total. I’ve authored nine of the seventeen books. The last two eBooks that I wrote are adaptations of sermons that I’ve preached either at the Durham Rescue Mission or assisted living facilities. The series is appropriately called, The Message Series. Each book concludes with a clear, strong Gospel message. If you count the eBook downloads and the preaching opportunities God has given me over the past month and a half, I’ve presented the Gospel to over 600 people!! That is an amazing blessing that can only be orchestrated by God’s hand.
Waiting for God to respond to our prayers can be difficult. We’ve been praying faithfully for employment and sometimes it just seems that God is silent. But at other times, He’ll answer prayers so fast that it’s mind numbing. He did that for us this week when He responded to a supplication in a blazingly fast manner.
On Friday December 20, our 18 year-old refrigerator bought the farm. My wife gets up earlier in the morning than I do to make coffee. I’ll join her later over a cup where we’ll do our devotions together and pray to start the day. That morning, shortly after starting the coffee, the circuit breaker for the refrigerator blew. I came down and reset it. Everything seemed to be working fine and we didn’t think much more about it until late in the afternoon when the kitchen started to stink like an electrical component had been fried. The smell was coming from the refrigerator. It was still running, it was cold and the food was frozen. It was too late to call anyone to check it, so we let it go for the night and prayed the smell would dissipate by morning.
Were we ever wrong! By Saturday morning, the whole house stunk. I ran downstairs to find that the frozen food had defrosted. There was a huge puddle of sugar-free frozen chocolate pops at the bottom of the freezer. The compressor was still running, the fans were still blowing, but it just wasn’t cold anymore. I knew I had to call a repairman to find out what was going on. A couple of hours later, he pronounced the refrigerator dead. The defrost heater had shorted and burned into the evaporator coils melting them and burning the freon. That was the smell! It was burning freon. The estimated cost to repair the damage is $1,100.00! This is money we just do not have sitting around right now. Our best and only alternative is to turn to God in prayer and wait for Him to answer. We didn’t know how long we’d be without a refrigerator. We only knew we had to trust Him for the answer, but we still needed to prepare in case the answer was delayed.
Sue had done a big shopping for the holiday on Friday. We had a lot of food that now had to be cooked and/or given away. Both of us immediately thought of a dear elderly woman who had fallen onto hard times. We’ve been praying for her regularly and called her and asked if we could bring her some of the food before it spoiled. Yes, she needed it. We loaded a bunch of it into the car and drove the 25 miles to her apartment on the North end of Raleigh. We told her the story of the refrigerator and she asked if she could share our need with her church’s “Angel Recycle” program. She attends one of the largest churches in Raleigh, almost 5,000 members. Church members who purchase new appliances donate the ones they’re replacing to the recycle program to be given to families in need. We definitely qualify so we agreed to let her submit our name, not knowing if this is God’s way of providing for us or not.
It didn’t take long for the answer to come. Sunday evening we were visiting a friend’s church to watch a Christmas program that he had written. My cell phone kept vibrating in my pocket. When the play was over, I saw that I had a text message from our sweet friend saying that someone wanted to give us a 36″ refrigerator. She was getting a new one on Monday, heard of our need and offered it to us—for free!! Praise the Lord!! He answered are prayers.
Now the challenge was to get it to our house. I don’t know anyone that I could call on a Sunday night who could help get it to our place on Monday morning. So we prayed again. I knew in my heart that if God wanted to give us this refrigerator, then He had already worked out the details about how He was going to get it to us. When the new refrigerator was delivered to our benefactor, she asked the delivery men if they would bring us her old refrigerator. They agreed to do it for a very low cost. God provided again. So in the course of just a few days, our old refrigerator died, God gave us a new used 24.9 cu.ft. model, and He had it delivered and set up. What a mighty God we serve! The delivery men even carted off the old one. Our new refrigerator is definitely an upgrade from the old one. It may be 10 years-old, but to us it is a Christmas gift sent directly from God when we needed it most. We are grateful to Him!
As you reflect on our Savior this Christmas and the free gift of salvation He so desperately wants you to accept, keep this fact close to your heart, He loves you without measure and cares for the tiniest details of your life. Trust Him in all things and He will never let you down. Here are a few Scripture verses to think about today.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.—Romans 8:28
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:19
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.—1 Peter 5:6–7