Since moving to Germany last year, money has been tight. It has been one of the greatest tests of my faith, yet the provision of such has been at the heart of the majority of my testimonies.
I wrote about a particularly challenging need in August of last year (you can read about it in Um, Where’s my Miracle?) when I allowed fear and doubt to overwhelm me as I failed to see how God would or could come through. And yet He did, in incredible ways (you can read about that in Um, Where’s my Miracle? (Part 2): The Overflow), topping it all off by providing me with a part-time job the very next day.
Following this, there was the temporary loss of that same job and that newly-acquired income just a few weeks later, yet God worked wonders once again and never failed to meet a need (you can read about that in Facing the Flame).
So it should come as no surprise that when I faced difficulties over the past few weeks, God was right there by my side every step of the way.
My last German course ended mid-February so, for the past six weeks, I have felt a bit aimless and discouraged. I recognised God’s hand in my circumstances, even if I could not always understand what He was up to, and continued doing all I knew to do: work, serve in church, and revise the German I had learnt previously, but I was praying for direction and opportunity. My plan had been to continue with further language courses but they were proving too expensive so instead I began looking for more work.
Then last week I was invited to interview for a Learning Support Assistant vacancy in an International School in a town just north of where I currently live. In my mind, it ticked all the boxes of what I was looking for except for one; the start date. The post had been advertised for the new school year, beginning in August, but I was ready to begin work now and hoped for an opportunity to start sooner.
Echoing my circumstances of last August, I began the week with €4 in my purse and just €0,89 in my bank account. I had already moved a small amount from my German account into my UK account to help cover an expense on my property in Scotland so that account was lying empty too. I really needed that job.
On the morning of my interview I bought my travel ticket with my credit card, knowing I didn’t have the cash to cover it but believing it would be a worthy investment. I was also due to meet a friend afterwards and I wondered how I would fund the lunch that would inevitably follow.
As I was shown around the school and participated in the short interview, I found the warmth of the staff and atmosphere in the school so inviting. I concluded that I really wanted that job… only one issue remained: the start date.
“Do you have any questions for us?” they asked. Hmm… well, yes, I did. But dare I ask?
“The post was advertised for the new school year,” I began, “is that the case, or…”
But before I had even had the chance to ask the question that I was so hesitant to voice, I was informed that there was paternity leave to cover from the beginning of May, therefore the new post would begin then. This was an answer to prayer. This was the job.
As I thanked my interviewers for their time, the Deputy Head Teacher said he would walk me back to the reception area (as he was walking that way anyway, carrying a crate of small bags). As we approached the exit, he said, “I don’t normally do this,” taking a bag from the crate and offering it to me, “but would you like a school packed lunch to take with you?”
I couldn’t believe it. I smiled at God’s creativity, opportunity, and provision. That was another answer to prayer.
As I headed to meet my friend, still grinning widely at God’s clear hand in my morning so far, I walked by a woman not much older than me, sitting begging and wrapped tightly in a blanket against the biting wind. I smiled again at God’s provision; this packed lunch was not intended for me, but for her. And I handed it to her without hesitation.
That, of course, left me once again without lunch, but I was confident that God would provide. In His grace, He prompted my friend to treat me to lunch that afternoon and we enjoyed valuable time together. She had no idea of my needs that day (she’ll read about them here, no doubt) but demonstrated generosity (which is one of her many great qualities) and it met a significant need in my present circumstances.
In the days that followed, God continued to stir the hearts of various individuals who responded in obedience and blessed me in incredible ways. By the end of the week I had the promise of full-time employment doing something I love, I had been encouraged by the kind words and support of many, and I had received overwhelming financial provision that not only met my current needs, but that will assist in supporting me until I begin work in May.
As I reflect on this past week, I see so many parallels between it and that difficult week in August last year. Each time I had no money, each time I had no idea what was just around the corner for me, yet the evolution of my faith is glaringly evident. Last week I experienced no anxiety, no illness, no doubt; I had seen God do it before and I knew He would do it again. Yet just like last time, His provision extended far beyond money; He provided supportive people, timely opportunities, financial provision, and the ‘perfect’ job.
I would not have chosen to be placed in the same set of circumstances that I had experienced before and responded so poorly to, but it illustrates so clearly my own growth over the past year and the many, many, many ways in which God has worked; sometimes in obvious, for-the-world-to-see ways, and other times in the quiet, behind-the-scenes, gift-wrapped-just-for-me kinda ways.
As I celebrate my first anniversary living in Germany in just a few days time, I sense the dawn of a new season but I am so very grateful for the desperate circumstances I encountered that demanded a miracle, for without those desperate times, I would not have had the opportunity for a front-row seat to displays of God’s infinite glory and power.