And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8: 28 NASB)
Visions of how I would spend the money danced in my head!
In July of 2014 my brother and I were approached by an agent from a gas exploration company. We grew up in western Pennsylvania, which had become an epicenter for hydraulic fracking to produce natural gas. My Dad was an entrepreneur and had pretty extensive land holdings prior to his death in 1988. The agent advised us that my Father owned the mineral rights to a twenty-acre parcel of land. The company he represented wanted to sink a well on this parcel. They offered us a 5-year lease, which included just under six figures of front money that would be renewed every five years as long as the well produced gas. The also offered us eighteen percent of the profits at the wellhead. If the well produced to the industry standard (20-30 years) the deal would be worth well over a million dollars. This would be split between my brother and myself. At first it seemed too good to be true, but with further scrutiny everything checked out.
I worked for seventeen years as a missionary. This was a lengthy gap in my retirement earnings. God had promised my wife and myself that he would provide for us in our old age. It appeared God was making good on His promise.
In late 2014 we finished the negotiations. The lease was signed, notarized and in ninety days we would receive our front money. Though I resisted, visions of how I would spend the money danced in my head. About two weeks after the signing we got an email from the agent. It stated that upon reexamining the deed to the parcel they discovered that my stepmother’s name was on the deed also. She had passed away but my Father had predeceased her. So she owned these mineral rights and we were not the heirs. My stepmother never had children. She remarried, a man without children, who also had died. The inheritance would go to people who my Father had never known.
To be honest for the next couple of weeks I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Then I started to realize that God had made a sovereign choice. I needed to reconcile with that decision or spend the rest of my life brooding over what might have been and asking the why question. So I sent an email to the agent and thanked him for all the work he had done. I told him I was glad that someone had benefited from my Dad’s business expertise. The outcome was not what my Brother and I had expected, but I was happy that my Dad’s work had not been in vain. I also told him that I realized that he could not devolve the identity of the heir(s), but I asked him to convey to them that I wished them well with their inheritance. At that point, as far as I was concerned, the inheritance became God’s and not mine anymore. He was free to do with it as He willed.
Why did God wait four months before he revealed the real heirs? Or for that matter, why involve us at all? They are interesting questions. The answer to both is, I don’t know. Pastor Alistair Begg once said, “it is not our job to explain the unexplainable.” One thing I do know is that God knows and “all things” work for the good accomplishing His good purpose.
PS: God has been faithful to provide our needs in other ways. Maybe not as extensive as the lease would have been, but to date God has provided food in our stomachs, clothes on our backs, and a roof over our heads. We are blessed.
Image used with permission by Microsoft.
Ken Barnes, the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing