One year my husband quit a consulting contract and came back home. Unfortunately, due to layoffs in the technical industry, many people were unemployed at the time and it was more difficult for him to find his next job than he expected. This meant that for two years, we lived with four children and no paycheck. It wouldn’t have been so bad. We had plenty of savings. However, we had recently found a farm in West Virginia and had agreed to purchase it. In addition to that, we still had the motorhome that my husband had been living in on his previous contract and we just had a baby with no maternity insurance so we had spent all our savings and still had three mortgage payments to make each month and no paychecks coming in.
It was a really rough time. We were having trouble buying clothes and food for the children and keeping from filing bankruptcy. It was during this time that our neighbors decided to replace our shared fence. We knew the fence needed to be replaced but we were hoping to do it when my husband was employed again. We certainly didn’t have the money to do it now.
The neighbor called us and I tried explaining to our neighbor that my husband had been unemployed for two years and we just couldn’t afford to replace the fence at this time. We never heard anything else.
One day, our fence was torn down and our neighbors left us a message saying we had to pay them several hundred dollars. We didn’t have the money. I called them to explain that we were having trouble buying food and clothes for our children and we certainly couldn’t pay that kind of money. We could help do the work but we didn’t have any money for a fence.
That wasn’t good enough. Because we own a swimming pool, the City was brought into this and we were going to be ticketed for not having a proper fence. It didn’t matter that we did have a fence until our neighbors took it down. Apparently, if you have a pool you are responsible for the fence even if someone else removes it without your permission.
We didn’t know what to do. We certainly didn’t have the money so I sent out an email to everyone I knew. I explained that we had to fix our fence or be fined by the City and that we just didn’t have the money. I asked if anyone had any fence parts they didn’t need could we please have them. I prayed as I wrote the request and sent it out.
My husband thought I was nuts. Who would have fence parts lying around? You buy what you need to build a fence and you use it. But I had heard all these stories about people receiving just what they needed when they needed it and I thought what harm is there in asking. People can ignore me or say no.
Then the phone calls and emails started coming in. This person had some fence posts sitting around their house, that person had a fence panel they had removed because they shortened their fence.
I called my husband at work and told him about all the parts and pieces that were being offered to us if we’ll go pick them up. We still weren’t sure it would be enough.
My father heard about it and bought the concrete we needed to set the posts. As soon as my husband had time from his new job driving a gasoline tanker truck at night, six nights a week for 12-14 hours a night, he would start putting up the fence.
The weekend came and my father came over to help my husband put up the fence. When they finished up the fence, there were just enough pieces. The panels we received, the fence posts we received, it all fit perfectly. We had a few slats left over and my husband used them to replace a few broken panels along another side of our fence that we share with another neighbor.
When we stood back and looked at the fence, it was a sight! Our old fence panels were dog ear topped and our replacement fence panels were gothic and there was a little paint on one of the replacement panels, yet it was the prettiest fence I had ever seen.
The kids and I began referring to it as the fence that God built. The funny thing is that we can’t even see that part of the fence. We have a flower bed in the back with some tall shrubs and unless we go behind them, we can only see the part of the fence that wasn’t replaced. The new part that doesn’t match is completely hidden behind our shrubs.
Our neighbors have spoken to us on occasion and they still refer to our fence as the ugly fence. I don’t think they will ever understand how special that fence is to us.
One day I’m sure we’re going to have to replace the “ugly” fence, but until it falls down, we’re planning to leave it. Although I can’t see the fence from my office window because of the shrubs, I still know it’s there. Whenever I doubt that God cares about me, I can look out the window at the fence that God built and know that fence was truly a miracle for us. At a time when we couldn’t afford a new fence, God provided just what we needed to get the job done.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
1 Timothy 6:17