In Everything Give Thanks
It was a cold, rainy, misty night when we left the Buldah valley on a Wednesday afternoon late in June 2013. We had just spent two weeks with some very special friends of ours, and our time together had regrettably come to an end. We had pre-arranged that I would do about two weeks work on the farm at Buldah, and our friends would give us a hot water tank and two hot water panels in exchange. Whenever we visit Lloyd and Mirjam at Buldah I am never able to sit still for very long, so the hot water system as a reward for work was just an added bonus.
I remember loading the trailer with Lloyd and realising that the tank was exactly what I needed! It had the capability to connect both a 'wet back' (or wood fired hot water heating device) and hot water solar panels, both of which I planned to incorporate into my own hot water system up at Eastward Missionary College where we live. It was brand new and so where the panels, and I was ecstatic because of what I had been given. I remember too how I roped the panels into the trailer so they would not be damaged, and then how I locked the tank in between the panels by wedging them there with packing materials and placed a number of lengths of copper pipe over the top of the tank and also roped them in securely.
That night we had planned to travel from Buldah to near Nowra on the New South Wales south coast, where my wife's parents live. Although the visibility was low, we travelled safe and arrived at the farm around 9.30pm. I remember getting out of the car, greeting Alwyn, my father-in-law, and then turning to show him the hot water system, and noticing that the tank was not there! I actually looked away and back again in disbelief, but here was still a big void where the tank had been at our last fuel stop in Bega about 220 km back down the road. My natural reaction after I was forced to believe the evidence of my eyes, was to unload the trailer and drive back along the highway in a effort to try and find the tank we had lost. I was feeling stressed, and was also angry with myself for not tying the tank in properly, even though I never thought it could possibly come out. I unloaded the trailer quickly and began to slowly drive back along the highway toward Bega.
As I drove I wrestled with God. I felt that the tank had been lost because of my own lack of care, but also knew that God could have easily prevented it from coming out if that had been His will. As I continued on down the highway, trying to see in the dark, with the mist so thick in places that it was hard to properly see the road, I felt that I was wasting my time trying to find it. I also began to realise that even if I found the tank, I could not know whether it was intrinsically sound or not, after its inevitable skirmish with the tar road, and who knows what else. I would have to pull it apart to check the integrity of its water holding capacity, but by doing this I would destroy the tank, because it was surrounded by thermal insulation. I finally decided to turn around and head home, realising that I had lost the tank, regardless of whether it was eventually found or not. As I drove the Lord brought Romans 8:28 to my mind which says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” He also brought I Thessalonians 5:18 to my mind which says “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Now it is one thing to trust God in all things, knowing that He knows the end from the beginning, and has your best interests at heart, but to praise Him?—how could I possible do that? I definitely didn't feel like praising Him, but we know we cannot obey our feelings either. “This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” is an unequivocal directive, and I felt it was God's voice speaking directly to me.
So then and there I decided to put my will on the side of God and thank Him for the circumstances I found myself in. It was hard at first, but the more I did it, the stronger became my faith that God had something far better in store for my family and I, and that I just need to trust Him and let Him work. I arrived back home at around midnight a changed person compared to when I had left. I was at peace, and had praise to God in my heart. I found it hard to believe that I was no longer upset, even with myself for what I had felt was my own stupidity. I went to bed a slept peacefully for the rest of the night—Praise God!
The next day, I thought about how I would break the bad news to Lloyd. I decided that I should call him and tell him, but a couple of days slipped by without this being followed up on. I then read an email from Lloyd on the Friday morning, where he stated, “Hope you arrived at the Martin’s place safely and that the panels did not break in transit”—which they didn't thankfully, but I then felt I needed to tell him about the tank, so I spilt the beans in my reply to him. When he replied back later that day, he said he and Mirjam were stunned, and could not believe that the tank could have possibly come out, after seeing how it had been secured in the trailer. He said he felt badly for me, and I think at that stage he was feeling worse about it than I was!
We spent Sabbath with Alwyn and Loraine at Nowra church and it was a very enjoyable day. The next day, while I was out doing some work, Lloyd rang and Susan spoke with him. When I came in for lunch, Susan informed me that Lloyd had called and asked us to 'stay put' for one week, but had given no more information that that. Naturally my curiosity was aroused, and so I called him back after lunch. He once again reiterated that he wanted us to stay where we were for one week, and would only say that his request was about the tank and that he had “a few irons in the fire”. I was highly suspicious that he was 'up to good', but had no idea what his intentions were. I was intensely curious to know what he was doing, but knew that the only way I was going to find out was to just wait. So I agreed to stay put for one week, and hoped that the suspense would not get to me too much. We had a great conversation and Lloyd said that he was impressed with the way that I was dealing with the loss of the tank.
Well, on the Wednesday of that same week, Lloyd called again and I finally found out what he had been up to. He firstly informed me that he had asked one of our mutual friends in the Buldah valley if he had any 'spare' hot water tanks at his place that he might not be using or need. Anthony did not, so one of Lloyds 'irons' had unfortunately vaporised, leaving only the other option, which he was now calling me to talk about. Unknown to me, when Lloyd had found out about the loss of the tank, he and his wife had decided to make a donation towards the cost of its replacement, which at the time was around $2000 plus the cost of freight (probably around $200). When Lloyd called Anthony about the spare tank, Anthony had also offered to give money without being asked. Then Lloyd shared part of our experience with his Sabbath School class on the Sabbath, without using any names, and Laurie one of the class members, came and saw Lloyd after the class and asked him if it was 'Alex and Susan' that he was referring to in his story. Laurie has been a good friend of ours for many years, but we really have not had much contact with him since we left Canberra around 6 years ago. Lloyd admitted that it was in fact us that he had been referring to, and Laurie promptly also offered to give a donation without being asked! So, in a short time, over $1000 had been pledged. Praise God!
One of the reasons for Lloyd's call, besides giving me the amazing news of the generosity of our wonderful friends, was to get our permission to let some further people know of our situation, and ask for their help if any felt impressed to give also. I must admit that I felt very uncomfortable about agreeing to such an arrangement, and the self sufficient part of me really rose up against the thought of being 'humbled' and 'indebted' to other people. My first reaction was to resist the generosity being offered and so I scrutinised Lloyd about being careful how he spent his money etc, etc....Then the verse that states “It is more blessed to give then to receive.” (Acts 20:35) came to my mind, and I prayed for wisdom and humility. My pride was subdued and I felt that this was part of God's plan in my life. I also remembered that “all things work together for good”, and realised that what God was orchestrating here was not only for my own immediate family, but was for all those who were, or would be involved. With these thoughts in my heart, I agreed to allow Lloyd to go ahead with what he planned and just leave it in his and God's hands. Lloyd also asked me to do some specific research regarding precisely what we needed in the way of a tank, in view of then using the funds raised to purchase a replacement, which would be exactly what we needed. I therefore took this task on over the following couple of days, and really learnt a lot about how water stems operate, and all the nuances involved! That verse about all things working together for good was also true in another way. Because we had agreed to stay at the farm for about a week, I had the opportunity to do some jobs for Susan's family, which I otherwise would not have been able to easily do, due to the block of time required to complete some of them. It meant that the blessings we were receiving could be passed on while we were there.
The next day Lloyd called again and let me know that he had sent out an email the night before, explaining our situation and requesting help if people were impressed to do so. Upon checking his emails the next morning, he saw a reply there from some other dear friends of ours. They had replied within minutes of Lloyd's email and had pledged $1000! As Lloyd told me this, I was overwhelmed and humbled by what these generous people had done for me. What had seemed to me as a terrible disaster was being turned by God into a great blessing. Another blessing I was able to relay to Lloyd was that through the research I had so far done, it was plain to me that the tank we had lost would not have been suitable. When I realised this, I also realised the reason that God had allowed our tank to come out of the trailer, was to give us something better. He took what would not be of use to us, and through a series of events which blessed many others as well, gave us something far better—something that was exactly what we needed! The amount that had been pledged was $2200, the exact amount that it would have cost to buy another tank the same as the one we had lost. The problem of course, was that we now knew this would not be suitable, and as I continued to research, I discovered that the tank I would need was looking to cost around $4000 with all the required accessories. Due to the fact that Lloyd had only recently sent out the email requesting help, I was not sure if more funds might come in or not, but decided to trust that God had it all under control. This was not all that hard though, because of the recent history we had had of His providence so far.
We decided to stay over the weekend with Susan's parents and leave on the Monday evening. Once again it was raining quite heavy, but we travelled safely. We found out later that the highway had been cut off by the next morning due to flooding, so once again we were blessed with good timing and safety. When we arrived home, I contacted Kane, a friend and neighbor of mine who is a plumber and asked for his advice. All said and done, with his help I finalisied the way I would do things and the components I would therefore need. Kane's advice was to buy a good quality, second hand hot water tank and utilise it. This now created a new problem for me. You see, I had been given $2200 to buy a new tank, to replace the one we had lost, but now the tank was only going to cost about $400. I did need a heat exchange to equate with the set up we had lost, but that still was not going to cost $2200. I called Lloyd and talked to him about it and asked how he felt about the use of his funds for other components in the hot water system we needed, other than just the tank. He had no problem with that, and after some thought, I decided to call all the other donors also, and explain the situation to them, giving them the option to have the money refunded if they wished. All of these beautiful, generous people gave their full unimpeded blessing for us to us the funds as we saw fit. The time I was able to spend with each of them on the phone was also a blessing, because I was able to give them all a progress update and thank them for their generosity. I now felt totally clear about the use of the funds I'd been given. I needed to build a dedicated, solid fuel hot water heater, buy a hot water tank and heat exchange unit, and also decided to buy three more hot water panels.
The three panels cost $300, the hot water tank $380 (plus $150 for delivery), the heat exchange unit $460 and the hot water heater with the plumbing pipes and fittings around $800. This made a total of $2090, and with the addition of a few miscellaneous costs, the grand total was mighty close to $2200! I was amazed when I added the costs up and saw this. I realised truly, that God had given us our hot water system. But the greater value I saw through all this were the lessons he taught us and the opportunity He has given us to pass this testimony on with all its blessings to others. So the very thing that started out in my estimation as the perfect solution to my problems, God allowed to be taken away, and then because I chose to thank Him and not doubt or curse Him, he turned the apparent loss of what I wrongly though was what I needed into exactly what I needed (though I did not know it at the time), and in doing so provided so much more abundantly than I could have possibly asked or imagined! I wish praise God and give thanks to Him for His great generosity and providential workings through beautiful, generous and unselfish people who also serve Him, and whom He has chosen to use to bring about this miracle for us.
May God bless you and abundantly give you the desires of your heart as you covenant to follow Him and do all that He asks of you. By God's amazing grace may we all be found in His kingdom along with our little ones and families soon, in that great day when we shall see His face. Blessings and Christian greetings from the Murchison family.