Miracle on Main Street

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February 7, 2001

I'm sure my soon-to-be neighbors must think I'm a stalker. I can just hear them: "Look, Betty, there's that woman in the red car driving by again." Though I'm probably raising suspicions, I can't help myself. Over my lunch hour and driving to and from work, I can't resist the urge to drive by the apartment I'm moving into at the end of this month.

Part of the reason is that I'm trying to remember what the place looks like. I spent all of 15 minutes in there before I filled out an application and wrote a check for my security deposit. (I'm convinced that part of the credit check process is seeing whether or not you flinch or frantically check your bank balance before suddenly parting with this large sum of money!)

The speed of this decision was based on three reasons: I'd been fruitlessly searching for something both safe and affordable for months, I had only one month left on my current lease, and there was the indescribable sense that this was a place I could call home.

The search began because my roommate of six years is soon heading to Mongolia (yes, you read that right!) for a graduate work/missions project. I was pumped for her and excited for me - at the chance to live alone for the first time.

My excitement soon faded, however, as I realized my lowly nonprofit organization income and the high cost of living in my geographic area made for an impossible mix. Day after day I'd check apartment rental Web sites, purchase local papers with classified ads, and drive around looking for "For Rent" signs in buildings that didn't look like they were soon to be condemned. And day after day I found nothing I could either afford or feel safe living in as a single woman.

As my panic increased, so did my prayers. I claimed verses about God being our Provider. I tried to speak only words of faith instead of whining and voicing my mounting frustration. Not one, not two, but three near-misses left me even more discouraged. "Hello, God? Remember soon-to-be-homeless me?"

Then one day I received an e-mail telling me a major freelance project I'd proposed months earlier finally got approved. The advance payment suddenly broadened my options. Almost a week later a realtor I'd spoken with earlier called me back to say a one-bedroom apartment was suddenly available in a building that had previously been full. Was I interested? Was I ever!

Prompted by my other near-misses, I asked to see the place that day over my lunch hour. After filling out the application, I was approved the next day and signed the lease three days later - with one of my mother's favorite sayings ringing in my ears: "God is never late, but he's rarely early."

Like I said, I don't remember a ton about my brief visit to my soon-to-be home, but what I do remember amazes me. The apartment's in a vintage building with windows in every room. It's located one block from the train into the city, one block from an artsy theater, and two blocks from two different coffee shops. There's even a balcony where I can sneak out on post- winter evenings and chat with God. And it's so close to my office I can go home over my lunch hour.

I'm amazed by all these features because they're all the things I would have prayed for if it hadn't felt so audacious to do so. Feeling low on options, I'd simply prayed for some place affordable and safe. And I began to realize that after years of my desire for a godly, loving husband going unfulfilled, my expectations of God and his concern, answers, and provision in my life had erroneously lowered. Though he didn't have to remind me in such beyond-my-wildest-dreams fashion that he's still in control, he did. And I can't thank him enough.

So I drive by, excitedly timing my new commute, trying to remember exactly where all those windows are located, and marveling at this miraculous answer to prayer.

I know there will be lonely days ahead as I transition to this new living arrangement - a truth I got just a taste of when I had to read pages and pages of lease-agreement legalese all on my own before signing on the dotted line. But I take great comfort in the fact that the One who provided me this new home will be right there with me.

Camerin Courtney

2002 Christianity Today. Used by permission.