Is it a miracle?
Most of us at some time or another and to varying degrees have had some kind of adversity, and all of us probably dealt with it in different ways. I suppose the way it affected us depends on its gravity and also on the degree to which we expected it. Some of us handle it quite well, chalk it up to experience and move on, some fight back at those the perceive to have taken an unfair advantage of them, some look to the government or church or friends to pick up the burden for them and then there are those who just bury their head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich and hope it will go away, which it seldom if ever does. Many of you may feel that this last type, having perhaps taken a bad kick in the teeth, bury their head in the sand and only inviting a swift kick in the area they have left exposed. The story I want to tell you is of the one occasion I am aware of where there was redemption rather than that swift kick.
A number of years ago I worked for a Building Society (the predecessor of the Savings and Loan companies in the US) in Birmingham, England. We had quite a few mortgages at our branch where I was the office manager, and every month the District Manager would come in to check on who had not paid that month. He liked to handle that himself and had a series of procedures and letters, which he would go through, which were firm but fair. If one of the mortgagors was going through a rough time, such as illness or loss of job or a strike we would always do something to help and there were procedures for that as well. Some took full and more advantage of it such as the man who came in the first morning of a strike, with a smile on his face, looking for some relief now that he was on strike. When his account was brought up however we discovered it was already overdue. There were a few situations however where all the letter writing, or even a visit, did not do any good and we had to seek a court order for a foreclosure. Fortunately this did not happen very often and I can only recall about three cases in the five years I worked there. The story I have to tell is about one of those cases.
One mortgagor that had always been quite prompt at paying his mortgage each month suddenly stopped paying, and we received no replies to all the letters that we sent out. We finally got to the stage where we had to apply for an order to foreclose and the order was granted. The lawyer sent a letter to the mortgagor informing him of the order and the date when he would have to give up possession. Building Societies in England were prohibited by law from holding any property for sale and had to pass it on to a real estate company. All arrangements were made for the day when this would come into effect and still there was no communication from the mortgagor.
The evening before the real estate agent was to take possession the district manager was passing close to the area where this house was and he decided to go to the home to make sure everything was all right. He knocked on the door and when it was opened he introduced himself and they invited him in. He reminded them that they would have to give up possession the following day and they understood and said all their furniture would be out by noon.
The district manager was surprised they were taking it so well and decided to ask them what happened since they had always been so prompt in the past. The husband explained that his company had laid him off about six months ago and they were just not able to make the payments. He had tried to get another job but had only managed to get a job three weeks ago which was not as good as the one he had held previously. The manager berated them for a little while for not answering any of the letters to explain what was happening. He then enquired as to how things were at present and if the job was secure. They told him it would probably take them a little while to get back on their feet but they were moving in with a sister and would be all right.
The district manager could see they were not dead beats, but just a couple who were a bit down on their luck and they seemed to have started to come out of their problems. He asked them if they really wanted to leave the house, and both of them were adamant that they had been very happy there and things were going well until the husband was laid off.
He then asked if they would like to stay in the house and could see them give a puzzled look as they asked if that was possible. He told them it was possible subject to confirmation of the husband’s employment and also the amount he was earning. They gave him all the information and the district manager could see that although it would be tight they should be able to manage. He left them with the understanding that provided his employer confirmed his employment and wages they would be able to stay.
The following morning the district manager came into the office and called me in after he had made a few phone calls. He told me everything that had happened the previous evening and also when he called the man’s employer and explained the situation to him, the employer confirmed his employment, also that he was very happy with him and in fact he was over qualified for the job he now held. He also asked if it would help if he gave him a raise, which he had been considering anyway.
This is a true story and I have told it here as I remember it from over forty years ago. A miracle is defined in the dictionary as ‘an event that appears to be neither a part nor the result of any known natural law or agency and is therefore often attributed to a supernatural or divine source’. As such this cannot be called a miracle, but I believe it would have been very difficult to convince that young couple otherwise. God often works in mysterious ways. Perhaps some prayers were answered.