As most of my readers know, my family and I have transitioned to a church ministry in MD. About three months ago, we reluctantly and ‘faith-scrapingly’ (that’s the existential process of scraping together all the faith you can muster by recalling all the past ways that God has been faithful and claiming every relevant promise in the Scriptures) followed God’s leading to leave our beloved church in Chicagoland and move to Maryland. Associated with the transition of getting used to a new church culture, work environment, and lifestyle in MD, we had to deal with the stress of packing, moving, and the dreaded sale of our home in a depressed and horrible housing market in Chicago (forget about even looking for a house in MD!)
After a savings account draining four months of paying mortgage on a house we weren’t living in, we finally had an offer on our home. As divine providence would have it, the same day I was slated to start at the new church! The last month since the agreed upon contract has been a stressful roller coaster of inspections, repairs, documents, haggling, and praying. I knew we weren’t underwater on our home, but the selling price of our home – after closing costs and real estate commissions – was low enough that we knew we would have to take money to closing. When I first talked the selling price over with my realtor, she estimated that we would need about $2500-$3000 to take to closing. So we have been earmarking that amount in the last month. Little did I know that the Lord would use this process to show me his power, the love of His people, and to write people into our story of faith and obedience.
Two surprises hit me in the last week. First, we needed to have some repairs done on our house to get in compliance with the village ordinance before closing. That gave me 5 days to find someone who could take care of the repairs for me in a quick turnaround in time for re-inspection before closing. I also needed someone who wouldn’t charge me an arm and a leg because I was saving every scrap of money for closing! I was stressed, but not overly worried, and the Lord provided a wonderful brother, Jim Rylek, from our Chicago church family who did the work in less than a day and only charged me for materials. Wow, God really takes care of us. Jim is an instrument of grace and demonstration of God’s faithfulness to us.
Then the second surprise hit me this past Monday (T-minus three days to closing). I got the final closing cost bill from my attorney, and it was more than double what we had estimated! My heart sunk into my stomach. I felt like I was going to throw up. There was no way that we could be able to close, and I felt all the burden of four months of praying, watching, and working crush me. I paced back and forth in the office. I came back to my desk, pushed aside the project I was working on, and read Philippians 4. “Don’t be anxious about anything”…”prayer and petition”…”be thankful”…”peace of God”… But I didn’t feel the peace of God. I felt nothing but the burden of seeing the sale of our home fall through. So I asked for prayer from my Facebook friends and church family. I asked for prayer from some staffers here at the church.
Two hours later, still no peace. I kept reading in Phil 4. “I have learned to be content”…”I can do all things through Christ”…”you shared my trouble”…”my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches”… I felt challenged by these words. I have not learned contentment in plenty and in need. I have not truly believed that I can do all things through Christ no matter the situation. I resolved that if it was the Lord’s will that we keep the house and face the burden of paying the mortgage, then so be it.
Instead of feeling consoled by these thoughts, I began to feel upset. I began to grumble and complain. “Why did you bring us here all the way to MD if you’re not going to provide for our needs?” Like the Israelites, “if we had just stayed in [Egypt/IL/fill in the blank], then we wouldn’t have these financial burdens!” Why is this so difficult? I lay my head over my desk when a friend knocked on the office door. He looked somber, and I thought he was coming in to pray for me. Instead, he offered to help me financially to make the closing. “I just want to bless you, brother,” he said. (The next day he proceeded to give me $3100 in cash!) I broke down into tears absolutely stunned by the provision of God. I was so grateful, but more than that I was fearful. Fearful of a God who can answer before my complaint even leave my lips. He showed me how little faith I had. I was trembling (and still am) before a God who keeps his Word, and the promises therein. I’m trembling at the fact that while I am doubting his provision even though He led us here, He still chooses to bless and move. On top of that, He uses the people of God to do that!?! I’m overwhelmed by the kindness of God. So God wrote in another important character into our story.
Why would He care for me and my family to such degree that he would respond to my needs even as I am complaining about it?! Why would he continue to show me such favor? Why would he continue to bless? Oh yeah, because that’s the kind of God He is, independent of the kind of child I am. And this leg of the journey has shown me just that – I am still a child.
Out of the woods, right? Nope. The morning of closing, I get an email from my attorney that due to a discrepancy in the lender questionnaire, the underwriter could not back the loan. Sparing you the gory details, it all had to do with our HOA. I remember the words clearly, “Mitchel, you need another miracle,” she said. I had already told her about the provision of the money, so I responded, “No worries, my God is going to use this to write in another important character to the story.” No fear or anxiety or complaint this time. I was sure God would come through even if we couldn’t close. Enter Kristin Perconti, my propert manager. After being made known of my situation, she made a bunch of calls and found out that the number reported was wrong. This is not a small matter. Rarely do lender questionnaires get revised. But God gave us favor in the eyes of the property manager, the management company, and the lender!
So at 1:30 pm on Thursday, the new documents were sent in, and on Friday, Sept. 14, at 2:30 pm CST, we closed on the sale of our house. To top it off, even with the added interest accrued from our delay of one day of closing, we ended up with an overage of $75! Perhaps enough for a celebratory dinner – thanking God for all of the friends, servants, donors, and laborers (I didn’t even talk about how God used my realtor to battle the inspector, or even how he provided extra money through my mother-in-law). God used each character to give this story of His faithfulness its color, contour, crisis, and catharsis. At the end of it all, we are bit tired, but overwhelmingly blessed!