God is good but he likes to do things his way. Because he is God.
I’ve just come back from brief trip to the Midlands. While there I heard from the director of a conference centre, Stephen, about a remarkable case of God’s provision.
About four years ago, it became apparent that the quarter-mile drive from the main road down to the centre was in urgent need of remaking – filling, levelling, tarmaccing, the whole business.
Quotes came in from £56,000 at one end of the range to £16,750 at the other end. The guy who gave the lowest quote was known to be a very sound tradesman, not given to rash promises. A quick phone-call extracted the information as to how he could come in at that price (partly to do with buying up reconstituted bitumen and buying oil stocks in advance). All good, therefore.
Unfortunately, there was a snag. The centre had no reserves. Nothing to pay with, however good the offer.
Stephen nevertheless explains the situation and says he’d love to give this guy the work but........ “Fair enough”, says the contractor, “I’ll hold the price for you”
Time passes. The trustees are getting agitated at the state of drive and beginning to exert pressure. Now Stephen is a Christian who believes God, that He means what He says, and he feels strongly from God that the work will be done. So he assures the trustees that he’ll get out a contract to have the work done in the third week of August. It’s now late July and much prayer is going on.
About a week later, the guy who’s been lined up to do the work phones to say that he can’t hold the price much longer. [Remember what happened to oil prices in 2008?]
“Give me a day or two more”, the director tells him, “and I’ll come back to you.”
The following day, a total stranger walks into the centre and hands the director a cheque, saying “God told me to give this to you.” It’s for £16,500.
Great rejoicing. Evidence of God’s mysterious ways!
But hang on. The bill is for £16,750. Where’s the extra? Following day, same guy comes in. “Sorry. I couldn’t do my sums right” and gives in another £250. Now, that is God.
Quick phone-call. ‘When can you do the work?’ Much thinking and consideration. ‘What about the third week of August?’ Sorted.
So it was. An excellent job, done as agreed and on time. Thank you, God.
But the bill comes in.. £19,800. What? Yes, VAT has to added, doesn’t it? [Still at 17.5 per cent at that time]
Well, the centre may not have a cash reserve but all donations are gift-aided. Therefore, what the Chancellor took with one hand, he gave back with the other.
God often does things differently from the way humans operate. But many Christians find on a daily basis that he really is faithful to what He promises. And God promises to meet all our needs.
So, as Jesus puts it, ‘Ask, keep on asking – and it will be given to you. Seek, keep on seeking and you will find whatever it is you are truly hoping to find. Knock on the door to God, go on knocking, and it will be opened for you. For if you imperfect, earthly fathers manage to give good things to your children, how much more will your perfect, heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him!’ Nigel O’Dwyer lives and works in Worthing