My husband lost his job at our home church, last November. He applied for a number of positions, mostly in TX, and one in WA. It was, and is, one of the more difficult seasons of life that we’ve walked through. Months of hanging on to the Lord in what felt like a swirling vortex.
It was rough. And God was good.
The church in WA (that ultimately hired Doug) flew us up for a ten-day interview/”trial” period, so that we could get to know the church and they could get to know us, and all of us could be much more clear (at the end of that time) on who/what we were getting into, before we or they “committed.” I loved the approach– so different from what I’ve often seen in pastoral search situations: a whirlwind weekend of flurried activities & little-to-none authentic relational connection.
After we came back, we had to pack up our house while waiting to hear back about whether or not he’d be offered the position. Either way, whether we got the offer or not, we knew we’d have to move (either to WA, or to a downsized place in Dallas).
To be honest, I had mixed feelings.
I loved that house— near family, useful to the Body, with so much built-in fun for us as a family. It was such a perfect expression of God’s grace toward us.
Let me share with you the first prayer written in my journal, after our return to TX after that 10-day interview process (and parts of it are just my raw heart but I want you to see the truth about where I was, and not mask the ugly parts). I forced my hand to begin listing out thanks when I really wanted to grump & throw a fit:
“Father, I am still such an easily-angered, headachy mess. Thank You for this house.
- all 4 bedrooms
- all 3 bathrooms
- the office
- the sunroom
- the large living & dining areas
- the beautiful kitchen with the corner window box
- the large laundry room
- his & hers closets
- the pool & cabana area– pleasant in all seasons (even in the winter sun!)
- the yard & firepit– the tire swing Doug built and the jungle gym that was Mike’s [Doug’s dad]
- the workshop where so much fun has been had & the chicken coop built
- the “junkyard” where the chickens have resided
- the attic that has held our children’s clothes
- the care groups we’ve hosted
- the friends who’ve come to swim
- the football games enjoyed in the front yard
- the kids’ enjoyment of the yard, the fort with the spiral stairs, the junkyard, the “secret”-cut-through behind the fence
- the front garden beds
There is so much I love about this home. I trust You. I *know* You know best. You’ve given us everything good– always what is best for every season.
You are good & I trust You. I trust You to give us the best WA home– and that ultimately in Heaven I will be delighted by You alone,
— having been stripped of earthly idols.
I feel Your stripping away now- of the idols & earthly ties. And I need it and value it, even though it is immensely painful.”
God is so good to strip away the cravings of our flesh & our love for earthly things— even when they are pried from our grasp, or it feels like the rug has been pulled out from under us. His heart for us is GOOD, and we can rest in that, even when everything else is swirling & uncertain.
One of the things I have prayed for our family and our children is that we would value people over things, and that we would hold our “things” loosely (including homes). So then, I have to welcome even the difficulty of “losing” a house that we loved.
[And with that, permit me a brief rabbit trail: DO I THINK GOD “OWED” US A NICE HOUSE? Not at all. In fact, for the whole time we lived there, even right up to the last moments I spent there, I felt like it was ALL GRACE. I remember my sweet believing friends in Turkmenistan who are under constant threat of persecution. I remember Chinese believers meeting quietly in small apartments and baptizing new believers in tiny tubs in crowded bathrooms. I remember the poor and the rich and the well-provided for and the financially-struggling friends and family members that I’ve had and call to mind that God is good amidst it all.]
He is GOOD IN EVERY circumstance.
So then, I can praise Him and be content with “much” when He provides it.
WHICH brings me to today.
After about a week here, our realtor drove in front of a beautiful house near the church and said she thought it would be perfect and was about to go on the market. I told her it was excessively out of our price range. So that was that. Or so I thought.
A week later, when we upped our budget by quite a bit (it takes a while to get used to WA prices after being in TX) I asked to see it.
A short walking distance to our church, with a double city lot, it is precious and enjoyable in every way (and more) that I could have asked for. Like each of our previous homes, it is a picture of GRACE.
We signed the papers for it this last weekend.
God has just done it again. Blown my mind with His goodness and care for us.
He would still be GOOD if she hadn’t accepted our offer. He would still be GOOD if we had ended up in the smaller home a 15-minute-drive away that we thought we’d be getting less than a week before we made an offer on this one. He would still be GOOD if we’d had to pause our house search and ended up renting an apartment. He’d still be GOOD if we had ended up on food stamps in a downsized house in Dallas. He’d still be GOOD if Doug was still looking for work and we were still hanging out on a limb in limbo. He will be GOOD if somehow this contract fails and we don’t get this house.
But today, from my vantage spot– the place where His sovereign hand has brought us– I am utterly overwhelmed by His grace. I want to praise Him for His good gift to us. My praises are flying heavenward for all that He has done to teach me through these (relatively) temporary, earthly homes. My home is in Heaven, and until then, I get to learn about “home” through these earthly provisions He gives.
This weekend, in the midst of Easter thoughts, it was so very clear to me:
God shines brilliant through the muckiest muck. Crucifixion, then Resurrection. What looks bleak is made beautiful in His time.
LET ME ENCOURAGE YOU:
- PRAISE GOD IN THE MIDST OF THE MUCK.-– Force your heart, your lips, and/or your pen to list out the good things of your hard time. I know it’s not easy. OH, I know it. You saw the journal entry– I was migrainey and frustrated and heartbroken. But as I began to list out all of the good things, my heart began changing and praising Him became easier.
- WHEN YOU ARE HURTING, TAKE HOPE FROM OUR REDEEMING GOD.– At the Cross, in Jesus, we can find real & lasting hope. What seemed final and senseless– Christ’s DEATH– was redeemed by the Father. Our hope is in the resurrecting God who redeems the things that seems most tragic, most confusing, most hurtful, most jarring. When no man could make good out of a situation, God can.
Image courtesy of: Evgeni Dinev/freedigitalphotos.net