“Um… I may have found a house.”
The text message from Timmy, detail-sparse but full of possibility, blinks across my phone as soon as I connect the in-flight internet, somewhere just beyond Minneapolis as I fly home from Emily’s wedding. Through the brief exchange that follows, I learn of the couple whose job is taking them away from Seattle, the renters they’ve so far been unable to find, and Timmy’s genial offer to rent their house with our small budget for our planned-on “hopefully 2-bedroom apartment, somewhere in the suburbs.” And this is no apartment in the suburbs, but rather a house, in Seattle, the kind that you can walk around without sharing walls or washing machines. The kind we never really even looked at.
The texts had ended with the conversation with this man he’d just met at church (at a service we normally don’t attend, no less), along with his hopeful words, “So we’ll see what happens!”
It’s so convicting, this hope, from my bold and optimistic husband. Because I, hearing the story, thought I already knew what would happen. This lovely house would soon be rented to someone who could afford it, and we would continue calculating how many square feet four humans really required.
I should be more willing to see what happens.
I always tell myself that all prayers are answered; it’s just that the answer isn’t often exactly what I want it to be. This attitude has the disadvantage of encouraging me to stop asking for anything at all (“No, You order for me, God. Whatever You’re having will be fine!”), but I imagine many realistic Christ-followers come to similar conclusions at least once in a while, in order to reconcile disappointed expectations (or worse) with our belief in God’s ultimate goodness. He knows what I need better than I do, right? The great challenge of young adulthood for me has been all of the Scripture that tells me to keep asking, specifically, anyway.
All that to say: I’ve spent the year asking anyway. For practical needs, like money, childcare for Luci, a job for Timmy, a baby, and a house. And this has been a season of odd and sometimes even extraordinary answers.
There was the gift from a fellow missionary leaving the field, which more than made up for the shortcomings in our support for the last six months in Germany. The women who loved Luci enough to spend multiple days a week with her while Timmy and I juggled tricky split shifts at school. The pregnancy that arrived (so far) without complication. The job that came for Timmy, sudden and perfect and different from everything he’d planned on.
There was even—oddest of all—a new English teacher for BFA, who is coming as a result of what I thought was “just a funny dream,” until it proved near enough to reality to encourage her to apply. She’s starting this fall, and has her story prompted a good amount of “Kristi and her charismatic visions” teasing from my friends.
I have no excuse, at this point, to doubt God’s extravagant provision, the last half-year vivid proof that sometimes God’s answers to prayer aren’t just what we ask for, but “far more abundantly,” as Paul writes, “than we can ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
Which is why I shouldn’t have been so surprised when, an hour later, Timmy texted me again, this time to tell me that we’d be visiting this potential house as soon as he picked me up from the airport.
Visit we do, this pleasant white house that reminds me so sweetly of the 1920s bungalow near Greenlake, where I grew up. The owners show us around, using hopeful phrases like, “If you want to live here, you could…” before pointing out the yard in which we should raise a puppy, or the laden apple tree from which we could bake endless pies in the fall. I want to laugh and tell them, “It’s not a matter of if we want to live here! This is a beautiful place! Of course we want to! We just can’t possibly afford it.”
And then we see what happens: They’re willing—even delighted—to rent it to us for our tiny-apartment budget. They’re excited for a young family to live there, telling us again and again, “Don’t worry too much. Just live in it. Make it home.”
So live in it we will, moving in the next few weeks to this lovely house, our first together in this brand-new season. A house a reasonable distance from Timmy’s job, a nice walk to the grocery store for me and Luci to keep our Kandern lifestyle alive.
I can’t pretend to fully understand prayer, any more than I could claim to fully understand the God to whom I direct these hopes, but if the last year has taught me anything, it’s that maybe prayer has something to do with the open-handed, wide-eyed boldness of my husband’s simple, “So we’ll see what happens.” There’s more asking to do, still—for furniture, transportation, the basic building blocks of setting up a new life somewhere—but we’ll keep asking, and seeing what happens, and thanking God in the midst of faithfulness that takes our breath away.