My wife and I spent the last two and a half years selling our house. Now we have a buyer who will let us stay in our house a few extra months, so we have time to continue our search for a new home. Which is not going well.
Before even looking for our next house, my wife and I prayed, brainstormed our ideas onto a whiteboard, and we easily, and mutually, agreed on three priorities: layout, land, and location. We want a layout to handle in-house retreats and frequent long-term guests; we want land for retreat activities and gardening; and we want a location that’s close to church and friends.
We have scoured every house-hunting site ever invented, and found nothing. Houses are huge or tiny, layouts don’t work, or the land is ill-suited. Then my son found a house that completely met two of our three priorities (better than we hoped), but fell far short on a third.
And we are stuck. One of us is fine with the compromise and the other very uncomfortable. We’ve asked friends for advice, and eagerly (and desperately) sought God.
And we hear nothing that brings clarity.
To complicate matters, marriages have histories. When we bought our existing house, it came with compromises for one of us that caused an inner-struggle for the twenty-seven years we lived here. And we don’t want to repeat that approach.
When we eventually do buy our next house, it will involve compromises (the land may be so-so but the layout perfect), unless we wish to pay so much for it that we mortgage our futures, sell our grandchildren into slavery, empty our savings, and live on oatmeal and water. That’s a compromise neither of us will make. (We like Grape Nuts too much.)
So, if one of us faces a house-compromise in the future, that person either needs to veto the compromise by playing a no-compromise trump card, or that person needs to accept the compromise, and rip up that trump card forever.
(Sorry about the “trump” reference. I was on vacation, played euchre, and trumping is on my mind. This message is not endorsed by any political candidate.)
How Does God Answer Me?
This morning I read the first half of Isaiah 57:1-13. For twelve and a half verses, God describes the unfaithful idolatry of his people. The last half of verse 13 says this:
But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land and shall inherit my holy mountain.
For a fleeting moment, sheer joy coursed through my veins. And then my heart stopped. If I take “refuge in God” so that I can “possess the land,” my refuge is in the land. God is merely a middle-man. The first twelve and a half verses of the chapter describe God’s children who choose the gifts of God over the Giver. Here I was doing the same thing.
Besides, when have any of us ever fully taken refuge in God? We’re like swimmers trying to cross the Pacific. Some make it a hundred yards and some make it a hundred miles. We’re still in over our head.
The only person who ever rested in God was Jesus, and God promised his reward to me. I’m praying about what house to buy, and God’s answer is to reveal to me my inability to fully rest in him. But I can see Jesus taking refuge in the Father for my sake, and in that picture, I find hope. His reward is assured because he really did it; and then he promises me his prize.
Instead of building, God wants me to behold; instead of searching, God wants me to see. Him. The “rest” will come in God’s good grace and timing.
P. S. You are my marketing department. We don’t have many funds for advertising; besides, I strongly believe in word of mouth over words of self-praise!
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