While I have no recollection of ever being worried about things, finances were quite tight for us during the early years of marriage and church work.  Looking back, it is fun piecing together the little stories of God’s provision and grace.  We live in the reality that God’s Word and promises are true:  “The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not want.” (Psalm 23.1).
Monica’s first year of teaching (which was also our first year of marriage) was very challenging.  Though today we still cherish some of the blessings received and relationships created that year, over the following summer we were given confirmation that it was best she not return.  Since we needed the second income and there were no teaching jobs available, she became a cashier at a hardware store.  Though she knew nothing about hardware, everyone loved her, and she thrived there – while we also survived financially.
A couple months later the half-day kindergarten teacher position opened up at Mount Calvary, Detroit and Monica was back where she wanted to be – teaching little children.  The blessings of the Mount Calvary years are too numerous to list here, except to say they joyously continued until Matthew came along.  Also, a friend from Charity, who was a Detroit Public elementary school Principal around the corner from Mount Calvary, made Monica the afternoon reading lab leader in her school.  Oh, yes, “the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100.5)
Sometime a few years later, after I was ordained and Monica was a stay-at-home-mom for our two sons, I became vacancy pastor at Mount Calvary (while still being the sole pastor at Charity).  With the extra income, and to make up for me being gone from home way too much, we purchased a pop-up camper.  In the midst of a desperately needed two-week vacation, Monica was driving west on the Indiana tollway when a semi driver started honking his horn and waving at her.  Not knowing what to think or do, she tried to ignore him.  He eventually pulled in front of us and started to slow down, escorting us to the shoulder on the freeway.  When we both were stopped, he came running toward us with a fire extinguisher!  A wheel bearing in the camper was smoking terribly without our knowledge!  He doused the fire, and then used his CB radio (this was before cell phones) to summon a wrecker to come to our aid.
The wrecker loaded the camper onto his flatbed and told us to follow him.  We were challenged when he turned around on the emergency crossing on the tollway, but we followed him anyway.  This, of course, confused the toll booth operator when our ticket said that we were supposed to be westbound but were now heading east.  She finally said, “Don’t worry about it,” and waved us through without a charge.  The little country gas station in the middle of nowhere said that they could fix our trailer.  We found an ice cream store at which we waited.  An hour later we were back on the road.  They even took our check without a problem.
Another time during our Charity years we were driving to visit my brother in Wisconsin.  It was sometime after 1991 because my mom was with us.  It was late in the evening as we were navigating our way through the south side of Chicago when, out of the blue, our minivan started to sputter and chug.  We pulled off the freeway in a “very questionable” neighborhood and sputtered our way to the first gas station we could find that was open.  I don’t recall any of the particulars anymore, except for the fact that they had our minivan repaired and running smoothly within the hour – at a price we could afford – and we had no further problems for the rest of the trip.  Call us naïve, or call it blind trust, all I know is that, looking back, the Lord provided for us again.
Looking back today, I could go on and on.  Such as, in our first year of marriage an elderly man’s wife died and he gave us the new stainless-steel flatware set she had just purchased, saying “this young couple can certainly use this more than me.”  We still use the set today.  And the time friends helped us move our old upright piano from a bedroom to the basement – where it remained when we sold our home in Detroit.  And the incredible ways people rallied around us while Monica spent months in a body cast following back surgery, with one boy in preschool, another in elementary, and the third one pastoring two churches … all while we moved from one home to another.
Looking back, Solomon got it right:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3.5-7)  And what is particularly precious, even when I fail to trust with all my heart … and while I often tend to lean on my own understanding … he still brings healing (to more than just bodies) and refreshment.  It is for this reason that, while it is fun looking back, it is even more fun to look forward to what God has in store – for us all – in the future.

Looking Back