We had been obedient to God in our buying of a house. This turned out to be more important than we thought in the journey of God’s provision.

In a catch up conversation, Ste, a friend from Nottingham told me that they’d had their house in the Meadows valued and how it was now worth significantly more than when they bought it due to the gentrification of the area. We’d had a word that we’d buy a house in 2017 back in January, but it had seemed impossible at the time. I got God’s permission to get our house valued. On paper it had gone up by £47,500 in less than 4 years. A more than 50% increase in worth and over a 100% return on our original investment. The valuer told us that we were fortunate to have a house on the street in the area that seemed most desirable as he’d sold two other houses on the street with a fortnight. God had definitely directed us to the correct house. We had already begun to find being landlords of a house over an hour away onerous. After many conversations about what to do, with each other and our heavenly Dad we decided that we would sell our house when it worked for our tenants (when one of them goes off to vicar college hopefully). We have plans for our future and our present. One rental property will eventually become two, and with the rest of the sale money we plan to buy our dream vehicle. The quality of camper van will be dependant upon the actual sale price and cost of the sale.

We reason that whilst we’re called to financial prudence ensuring that we own a property outright to live in at the end of our salaried existence and to planning ahead, we are also mindful that we live in the knowledge that the whole canvas of existence may be rolled up at any time. Jesus tells jokes at the expense of the prudent accumulation of wealth without God. A camper van allows us to experience God in His creation, with trips long and short. Having it soon means we get to experience it with our children rather than waiting for future/retirement. It’s important for us to balance living in the present not the future whilst also being prudent and planning ahead. God had the answer to our car provision in hand, before we knew it.

But, the answer is the promise of funds later rather than a vehicle right now. The Volvo was ready for the trip up north and was coming into it’s own. Expensive as a school shuttle, it is great for the 3 day journey from Coventry to Penrith and a camping pod, on to a hotel in Spean Bridge and finally to The Old Schoolhouse, Carbost, by Loch Harport on Skye. The journey went well until we reached Penrith. A trip down to Keswick for a lovely tea revealed a “judder” in the car on the way home. Every time we accelerated the whole front of the car shook. We pushed on the next day, via Carlisle but by the time we approached Spean Bridge we were in trouble, it was getting worse and worse. We ended up driving from the hotel to Skye in a hire car, following the Volvo on the back of an RAC van. 3 days of hire car came free, but in the end a broken meant more days of a hire car and a £400+ bill, to make matter worse a week or two later we must have hit something on the road and the fuel line was damaged, with diesel dripping lose we took the car back to ours friends at the garage and had another £200+ to pay after another hire car (not on the RAC this time) was needed for a couple of days.

This was not the kind of provision we had in mind. There’s a whole can of worms to be opened here about God allows bad things to happen in order to teach. I don’t want to enter that debate, simply to say that his provision is always for our good. There is a difference between saying that God gives sickness in order to teach in saying that God allows us to go through times of need in provision in order to focus on him.

Even in the difficulty of car costing money God had gone ahead of us. To prepare for a sabbatical, clergy apply for funds. The main fund to which I had planned to apply had its final application date just after I ended up in A&E with what presented like a stroke and turned out to be a migraine. Consequently I miss the deadline and the finance which we were likely to get. This meant that I instead applied to 6 smaller charities in the hope that I would receive a grant from two or three. In the end I ended up receiving a grant from five of the six charities which meant that our “retreat” in Skye began to be planned as more of a holiday/grand tour. As we planned this grand tour, we felt God’s peace began to lift from us. We realised that God’s plan was for a retreat and so put the money aside for we knew not what. This turned out to be the funds that covered the breakdowns and mishaps. Our loving father had it covered before it happened. His planning for unfortunate circumstance does not make me believe that he planned the unfortunate circumstance.

The future plan is to sell the Volvo after an MOT and to buy a simple and economic runabout until we catch up with God’s final plan through selling our house.

We feel that this new season after sabbatical is about saving, simplifying and building wealth for the future. I can honestly say that this journey of provision has killed the desire for wealth for its own sake, (I’m sure there is further to go in that.) The short to medium future involves a lot of big financial projects, getting free of our dependance on our church wages and being a financial tower of strength to help others. Then maybe we’ll back in desert living on manna again, either way it’ll be fun and when we let t, it’ll all be about Him.

So the story is unfinished…. And that’s what I’d like to leave it. This is an ongoing journey, one that will be filled with our mistakes and God’s perfection as we journey together towards glory. It may be that God intervenes and we do buy a house this year rather than next, it may be that we are gifted a car tomorrow, who knows. What I do know is that whether we are in plenty or just scraping by, that God is our provider.