Back in 1977, Jack and I felt that the Lord was leading us to build a house in the country without going into debt. Instead, we were to look to Him continually to supply every need. This was a brand new adventure. I think our extended families thought we had lost our minds. But by the time the project was completed the experience had become such a training ground for us that the house itself had become like a fringe benefit.
Our house was a large, full two-story with more than 3000 square feet in the downstairs alone, and since we were doing much of the construction work ourselves it took us three and a half years to complete it. It would not be an exaggeration to say that miracles happened at every step of the way.
When the initial plumbing and the enormous cement foundation slab were completed, we considered using metal for the framework but decided on wood when we heard that the old Swift Turkey Processing Plant had gone out of business and was auctioning off everything, including the lumber. Since Jack couldn’t take off work to go to the auction, he sent my dad with a blank check to buy lumber—if the quality of the lumber was good, and if he could get it for a good price.
Jack was a little nervous about sending my dad with a blank check because Dad was notorious for loving auctions, and he had bought some things in the past for which we still hadn’t found a purpose.
We hadn’t heard from Dad all day, so when Jack got off work that afternoon we made a beeline for the auction ground. The auction was over and the place was practically empty, and the only person we saw was my dad, standing in the middle of this huge lot, wiping beads of perspiration off his brow.
The first words out of Jack’s mouth were, “Did you buy anything?” With one big sweep of the hand, Dad replied, “I bought all of this!”
Mounds of lumber—some stacks taller than a two story building— were piled all over the lot. I saw a look of horror cross Jack’s face. It would take weeks to haul it all out to our building site, some ten miles in the country. But before he could voice that fear, Dad blurted out, “The lot has to be cleared in three days or they’ll bulldoze it all under.”
Sure enough, several big bulldozers were parked off to the side. The Kwik Pantry Convenience Store had purchased the land for a gas station, and they were on a tight schedule.
I called it “piles” because it was not stacks of lumber that had been cleaned of its nails and neatly stacked. Every board was filled with nails and they were all thrown up on gigantic piles. Dad was already frantically pulling boards off the pile and loading them on his pickup. He had spent the maximum amount that we had allotted, plus half again as much, and the reality of what we had facing us to get the lot cleared in time was just beginning to dawn on him. The boards were so long that we couldn’t even get them in the pickup without extending them way over the cab and far too many feet out the back of the bed.
I could feel Jack’s fear and disappointment mounting as he started to walk around those piles and pray. Talk about an impossible-looking task! The sight was mind-boggling, but we couldn’t give up because all our money was tied up in that lumber. We had to salvage as much as possible.
In a few moments Jack called me over and said that God had told him to go to Santa Anna, a town twenty miles away, where he would find a harvest gold, sixteen-foot cattle trailer with a bulldog hitch, and it would cost under $1000.
Dad was not happy when we took off on what he thought was a wild goose chase, but like the colt on which Christ entered Jerusalem, the trailer was there exactly as God had said it would be. It took a couple of phone calls to hunt the owner down, but he sold it to us for just $975 because he was closing that particular brand out in order to carry a much more cheaply made line.
We spent every moment of daylight for the next three days, hauling lumber—trip after trip after trip! But praise God, even though we did not have one hour to spare, we were able to clear the lot before the bulldozers started leveling the ground for their new building.
For the next three months I stood outside under the trees on our own property, with two saw horses supporting the boards as, one by one, I pulled nails and dropped them into a washtub. I counted one hundred twenty-two nails in one of those boards, and I think that was a pretty fair average. No wonder I was barely able to stay ahead of Jack and his partner as they started the framework on the house!
On the other hand, the carpenter who helped with the framework could not quit commenting on the quality of the lumber that came out of that old turkey processing plant. Over each of our windows and patio doors we were able to install full sized 2” x 14” headers, and we had enough tongue-in-groove oak to deck the entire second floor, making it solid as a rock.
By the time we were finished we had all the lumber we needed, plus enough extra for three other people who wanted to build on extra rooms and garages. God’s provision always includes an abundance left over to help others.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed. 2 Corinthians 9:8
Our carpenter estimated that we had bought at least $8,000 worth of lumber—many times more than what we paid. And after using that cattle trailer for a number of years, we were able to sell it for more than we paid for it in the beginning.
Peggy Joyce Ruth
From Those Who Trust