Eleven months ago, Emily and I were in North Bay, Ontario, for a family vacation. She was reading Luke’s gospel. I was reading Luke and Radical by David Platt. As we both read, we individually felt challenged when we came to (both in our Bibles and in Radical conveniently) Luke 12:35-40, particularly when Jesus says, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.”
Were we “dressed for action”? Were we prepared for the Lord to come? Our answer was no.
We both felt hindered in our service to Him; like there was something holding us back from being able to do all we intended. Then we started talking and realized our concerns were all pointing in the same direction:
We needed to sell our house. We prayed, sought counsel from our pastors, elders and trusted friends.We looked over our finances again and again to make sure we weren’t on crazy pills… We definitely needed to sell the house in order to be ready to serve. So, from the beginning of September through the middle of December we did all we could to make the house ready. We moved all our excess stuff out of the house (including nearly all my books). We repainted the trim, the porch, finished a bunch of the “we’ll get to it eventually” work… and made the place look pretty darn snazzy. Then we put the first of what would eventually be three different kinds of “for sale” signs, placed ads online and got the ball rolling. And on Tuesday night at 8:53 pm, the paperwork was signed and our house was officially sold.
When all’s said and done, eleven months had passed from the time we began to pray and seek counsel to signing the papers. Eleven months.
Now, I know that a lot of folks talk about “open doors” and such things. If God wants you to do something, He’ll open a door and make it happen. Here’s what we’ve learned through this: Sometimes. Other times, He has a number of things to teach you first. Here’s what He’s been teaching us:
1. Perseverance. It took a lot of prayer, a lot of work, a lot of tears, and a lot of frustration to get the house sold. We tried to sell it on our own for seven months before signing with an agent. Seven months. Most people last two months, tops before they tap out. We saw it almost sell twice in that time and the deals fell through each time.
2. There’s a fine line between perseverance and foolishness. At some point, you have to admit that you need help. It took us seven months to get there. Like I said, most people last two before they get an agent. Eventually we had to say “we need help.” And God provided the right agent at the right time. And He brought a buyer two weeks after that.
3. Idols have to die. Home ownership is a high value in my wife’s family; God has been killing that in her over the last several months. Since she finally let it go, I’ve never seen her happier. But that’s all I will say about that. It’s her story to tell (and I hope she will some day).
4. I don’t trust God nearly enough. I’ve been frustrated, stressed out and kind of irritable for a good long while now and it all came to a head on Tuesday morning. I got home from Guelph (where Emily and the girls were staying so the agent could show the house without difficulty), I saw the message on the machine that we’d received an offer on Sunday. Now, I wasn’t sure if it still existed at that point; and although I had called and left a message with the agent, I freaked out a little bit. After Emily told me I needed to chill during our phone chat, I finally remembered Phil. 4:6-7. I begged God to give me His peace over this, whether the deal was still on the table or not. And He was faithful to answer.
5. The prayers of others really, really matter. We’ve had literally hundreds of people praying over this home sale for months. Brothers and sisters, He has answered your prayers. Thank you for persevering with us. Thank you for praying with us.
So now we’re ready for action. The question now is, what’s He going to ask us to do?