The Kindness of God

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Our family moved from Tacoma Park, Maryland to Annapolis in 1958. I have some fragmentary memories of kindergarten in Tacoma Park, and more solid recollections of first grade in Annapolis, up to and including the name of my first grade teacher, a very pleasant woman named Miss Robinson.

I grew up in Annapolis, and have to say that it was the town that shaped me the way that hometowns do. The first five years there were at 3 North Cherry Grove and the second five years were at the top of Genesee Street, about a block away from the Navy Marine Corps stadium.

My father was working with Officers Christian Union, and had opened a bookstore/literature ministry on Maryland Avenue in old historic Annapolis, just down from Gate 8 of the Naval Academy. Because he was working for this ministry on a wing and a prayer, it is safe to say that we were not awash in money, although God consistently and regularly supplied our needs as a family. I grew up in a setting where extraordinary answers to prayer became quite ordinary. How we moved from Cherry Grove to Genesee Street was one of those stories of a remarkable provision.

We were renting the house on Cherry Grove, and my father had a realtor acquaintance who was interested in selling him a house. My folks had no money with which to buy a house, but one time my dad was pressed by the realtor to think about it. And so my father gave him a list of features a prospective house would need to have before he would be interested. The features ranged from obvious (price range), nice to have (fireplace), to quirky (a front hallway that went around the living room so people could come and go without disrupting any Bible study that might be in progress). There were about ten things on the list, and they were all very specific. And so that was that, and my father assumed the subject was closed.

But after a very short time, the realtor called and told my dad that he had the house. It was a new house built with used materials and so the price was really low. It had a fireplace. It had a front door and hallway that led around the living room. Everything on the list was right there, embodied in the house. Perfect fit.

After the realtor showed my dad through the house, we were outside standing in the front yard. The realtor was no doubt feeling very pleased with himself, and my dad was at an awkward um stage. The fly in the ointment was that my folks still had no money with which to buy this perfect house. While we were standing there with my dad wondering what he should say about this interesting situation, an old friend of my parents drove up. He got out of the car, and came over to my dad to talk with him. He had tried to call my dad to talk to him about something else, but was told that he was off looking at a house with a realtor. With that information, he immediately hopped in the car and drove over to the house on Genesee because he and wife had decided (a long time before) that if my parents ever decided to buy a house in Annapolis, they wanted to donate the down payment. And that is what they did.

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