House Hunters

househunter

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away om evil.
It will be healing to your esh and re eshment to your bones.

—Solomon in Proverbs 3:5–8

Looking for a new house started out as a lot of fun. It was like a reality show where we got to peek into other people’s closets and imagine how our life would t into their living rooms. Even though our kids (one-year-old twins and a three-year-old at the time) would have rather spent their Satur- days watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, we took them house hunting because we desperately needed more space.

For twenty straight Saturdays, we met our real estate agent to look for our forever home, preferably one with a big backyard, in a nice neighbor- hood, with lots of neighbor kids and parks and good schools. Yes, our list of must-haves was long, but we planned to persevere until we found our house.

We had saved for several years, squirreling away money in an Ameritrade account and watching our savings grow every year. Unfortunately, this was in 2008, and the stock market was about to crash. We didn’t know that yet.

Our real estate agent suggested we get our own house on the market, just in case that sale took a long time. We purged our closets, rented a third storage unit to hold our clutter, and put a For Sale sign in the yard.

Our house sold immediately. On the first hour of the first day, a family made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. They were moving from England, and the ship delivering their belongings would arrive in a month. Could we pack everything and be out in a month? Would we be able to find a new house in time? Our real estate agent advised us to take the offer. We prayed this would all work out. Then we clenched our eyes shut, signed the papers, and tried not to freak out.

Thirty days until we’re homeless. GO!

The next month was crazy. We looked at houses every day, whittling down our list of must-haves more and more. We made lowball o ers on homes we couldn’t a ord. We o ered more than the asking price on hous- es we wanted, writing in the contract that the occupants had to be out in three weeks. When neither of those worked, we made o ers on houses we thought we might get but didn’t really like.

Then the stock market crashed. For two days, every time we checked our Ameritrade account, the balance had fallen. Every analyst and nancial ad- viser gave the same advice: Don’t panic and don’t sell! e market will bounce back!

But we had to sell; we needed the money now to buy a house. e day we cashed in everything was also the day the stock market hit a thirty-year low. Our price range was suddenly cut in half, and we had to start looking at smaller houses. e only thing disappearing faster than our money was our time. We had three weeks before the English family moved in, and we had no place to go.

We made an offer on a wonky house that neither of us liked, just because it was vacant. The sellers accepted our offer, and I cried in frustration. Three months before, we wouldn’t have given this house a second look; now, it was our new home.

We liked the quiet neighborhood with parks and good schools, but the house was weird—very sleek and sterile, with a tiny backyard. It felt like a hospital, all white tile and long, wide hallways. We wanted the houses we had looked at last year and had been too picky to buy. We wanted our stock account to be what it had been last month. We wanted more time.

We went to our real estate agent and told her this all felt so wrong. Was there anything we could do? Break the contract with the family moving into our house? Invent some problem with the buyers’ funding and tell them they couldn’t have our house? Make an o er on one of the houses we really wanted, one of them that we couldn’t a afford, and then scrounge for more money? We looked her straight in the eye and told her we were desperate.

We were ready to do whatever dishonest move she suggested. If she’d said we needed to lie or cheat, we would have done it. We felt penned in, like a scared dog that bites when it’s trapped. e stock market had cheat- ed us, and we were ready to cheat someone else. e mortgage industry was lled with problems and lies, right? What were the loopholes?

Even though our real estate agent was a tough, savvy woman, she wasn’t helping us out on this one. “ is is how life goes sometimes. Don’t panic. Trust.”

Trust who? God? We had trusted God when we had twice the money. We had trusted God when we had dozens of options. We had trusted God when we thought we would have months to move. Trusting God had got- ten us in the tightest corner of our lives.

We had one day left in our buying option period, and Mike was looking at houses on the Internet. e unstable economy meant more and more were for sale every day.

“Hey! Look at this!” He pointed to an image on the screen. “ is is our house.”

And there it was. On the next street over from the house we were buying, in the neighborhood we loved, a new house had just come on the market.

is house was gorgeous, with a huge front porch, a big backyard, enough bedrooms for all our kids, attic space converted into an enormous playroom, and right around the corner from the park. is was our house—we knew it in that way you know you’ve just met the person you’ll marry.

We called our real estate agent. She could meet us at the house in twenty minutes.

Tears were in my eyes as we walked through every room. is house had every single one of our must-haves from the list we had made two years ago. is house even had weird things we loved, like a formal dining room that fit our table and an art niche for our favorite painting. And the price was right.

With shaking hands, we wrote an o er. We had the exact amount for the down payment from selling our stocks. e sellers, who had also been hit hard by the nancial crisis, accepted our o er. ey could move out fast. With just hours left in our option period, we canceled the other contract.

is was from God. He had sifted our money and time and options down to just this one, just the house, the one meant for us. at day in our Realtor’s o ce, when we were ready to beg, borrow, or steal to get what we wanted, God didn’t let any of that happen. He wanted us to understand who was taking care of our family. is was our Gideon moment.

In the story of Gideon, God sifted his troops down to almost nothing so Gideon would see God was the one taking care of him. Gideon shouldn’t have won the battle against the Midianites, and on his own, he wouldn’t have. But God made it happen in His perfect timing.

When we had no time and little money, we found our dream house, the one we had been looking for all along. e timing of this made no sense. is wasn’t luck. is was God.

God made it rain on the hottest day of our drought. He provided in such a dramatic, supernatural way, we couldn’t point to ourselves to take the credit. We didn’t need to steal or scheme to get the house we wanted; God was doing something bigger here.

Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” ( John 14:2). e same God who provided Jesus the sacri ce for me, who provides heaven for me, gave me exactly the right house.

God had taken care of our family the whole time. Because of this, we could trust that He would take care of us forever. Excerpted from Love Rules, published by Concordia Publishing House, 2015

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