During the weeks leading up to my move, various friends from the church I’d pastored in town, the campus ministry we’d volunteered with, and my current church had me over or took me out for meals. It was wonderful to have these opportunities to affirm and celebrate the warm relationships I’d formed during my years in Michigan.
The Sunday before I moved, I gave a testimony during worship about how God had provided just the apartment I needed for just the time when I needed it. Then people came forward and prayed for me, and at the pastor’s invitation I prayed for God’s blessing on the church.
Late in the afternoon of my last day in town, a family we’d been especially close to came over to say goodbye and pray for me. The husband prayed specifically that God would show me signs of his presence so that I’d know He was accompanying me into this next adventure in life.
After the family left, I went to gas up my car for the drive to Pittsburgh the next day. I went to a nearby station as usual and discovered that they’d gotten brand new pumps with unfamiliar digital readouts. I tried to follow the sequence I was accustomed to, but the pump wouldn’t take my credit card. It just told me to select a grade and start filling the tank. “Maybe you pay at the end now,” I thought. I placed the nozzle in the tank, started the gas running, and secured the trigger so the flow would be continuous.
After a while the flow unexpectedly slowed down and then stopped at an exact value. No “click” as if the tank had filled. But the pump clearly believed it had finished. So I tried to pay. Now the pump was acting as if I was back at the start of the usual sequence, not at the end. So I went in to the office to describe what had happened.
The clerks listened to my story and after asking a couple of questions they declared, “This is your lucky day. Free gas.” Apparently somebody had prepaid for a certain amount of gas but then left without pumping it, and I’d been the next person to use that pump. The prepaid amount was $7.
The move went better than I could have hoped. Two men and a truck from Two Men and a Truck came and loaded everything up on March 31, the last day I could stay in the house in Michigan. After spending the night at a hotel en route, they unloaded everything on April 1, the first day I could get into the apartment in Pittsburgh. The company had told me they would have considered this a two-day job anyway, and they had a crew available for just the right two days.
The two men had moved dozens and dozens of fragile items for me, many of sentimental value, some irreplaceable—framed artwork, sets of china dishes, keepsakes from travel. Once I’d dug down through the piles of boxes and unpacked everything, I discovered that only two things had broken: an off-the-shelf casserole dish and a decorative plate I believe we got at a thrift store. Somehow both of these had shattered into pieces, showing the possibilities, but even the things packed with them were intact. I still had the use of virtually everything I’d wanted to bring with me to create continuity in this new expression of my life.
The Monday after I arrived, I met with the property manager to get oriented. Among other things, she gave me a code that I could punch into the keypad at the main door for entry whenever it wasn’t convenient for me to use my keys. She explained to me it that it had been randomly generated. But it was identical with the last four digits of my Social Security number.