“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
I’m telling stories of how God provided for Lesley and me as we tried to “seek first his kingdom”.
In 1979, we moved house with our 14-month baby, from Shipley to Pudsey. Here’s the story behind that, and what followed.
We were part of a large church in Bradford. In early summer 1978, the elders made a general request for people to consider moving house to support the church’s work in different areas. We felt stirred to respond. At the time, we were getting to know a couple who led a house group on the opposite side of the city, in Pudsey, so we were disposed to go there. We told the elders we were willing to move anywhere, but were interested in Pudsey. When they said that Pudsey was one of the main places they had in mind, that settled it!
Of course, we needed to find a house. After many failures we hit upon an old but attractive weaver’s cottage, with a nice garden. No problems were raised with the survey, and we moved in February 1979. We quickly got involved in Pudsey and soon began to lead the house group, as well as taking on other responsibilities in the wider church. But at the end of 1980, our whole house group became part of a new church plant in Leeds. After that, we wanted to move again to be more effectively placed for the new church.
The trouble was, it turned out that the original survey of the house had been defective and there were significant problems, so no one was willing to give a mortgage for the house. We were stuck with it unless we paid a major cost for improvements. A church friend who was a senior building society manager told us that the building society which gave us the mortgage was legally responsible for the dodgy survey, so with his help we tried to get redress from them. It turned out that there was a case going through the courts that would decide whether we would succeed. After a few months of hope, that was settled in a way that gave us no chance of getting anything from them. We enquired about getting grants from the City Council, but were told we were not eligible.
We had a big problem! We would only ever be able to sell the house if we put a large amount into improvements, money we didn’t have. But we had moved to Pudsey in seeking God’s kingdom, and the flaws in the survey were not our fault. Was God faithful to his promise in Matthew 6:33?
Eventually, believing that we had to press ahead, we arranged a large extra mortgage, stretching us to our limits. The work was so much that we couldn’t live in the house while it was done, but a friend from our house group (a young man who’d recently bought his first home), invited us to live in his house. He moved out himself. A wonderful act of kindness.
We moved out and went for a week’s holiday. When we got back, there was amazing news. A new member of our Leeds church plant had heard about our situation. He worked for the City Council and knew about changes in the rules for grants. We were now eligible! In our absence, he started the process of application. As a result, we got all the necessary work done and much more besides. Most of it was paid for from the grant, with just a small extra mortgage. Despite the difficulties, we now had a better house for relatively little cost. God is faithful! When we “seek first his kingdom, we are not immune from problems, but our God is with us and the things we need “will be added to us”.
This is not the end of the tale of our Pudsey house. There were more challenges before we finally moved. But that is another story!