How God Taught Me a Lesson When We Lost a House
The house hunt. It started while we were engaged and didn't conclude til about a year into marriage. My grandparents having been in real estate professionally their whole married lives, generously gifted each of their grandchildren with a down payment for a home after we were married. It was important to our Grandpa that we have a piece of property of our own close by, and I am forever grateful for their gift because we surely could have never afforded a home in California without their generosity. We wanted to be wise with the gift. Stephen wanted rental property for passive income, but I wanted a home. We looked and looked. Then we found it.
A cute, old, bungalow home with a back unit next to an adorable downtown. Stephen's rental income and my house. It had 2 SMALL bedrooms (like literally 9x9 and no closets) and 2 SMALL bathrooms that Stephen barely fit in. The kitchen had peach cabinets and a farmhouse sink. The creaky, uneven hardwood floors were still in tact. String lights lined the backyard just asking for dinner parties to be thrown.
Perfect, right? I was honestly just grateful we could even buy a house because of my grandparents generosity and I was willing to make whatever work. I pinned creative ways to fit in storage under beds since there were no closets and nifty ways to add storage in the tiny bathrooms without Stephen hitting his head on it. I picked out paint colors and dreamed about building a porch.
We had our inspection, and were about to close escrow, when our inspector told us The news. The foundation was useless and he was surprised the house was even still standing. He told us the next earthquake that hits, he would be surprised if the house made it. I just about died inside and the tears started to flow, we couldn't buy this house.
A long home searching process and we were finally at the finish line. Why would God get our hopes up like this? Why would He close a door on a home we so deeply wanted that seemed so perfect? Why would He bring us back to square one?
Then my dad and father in law pointed across the street to a house for sale. "Hey, what about that one? Have you looked into it?"
I hadn't seen the house before. It must have just come up on the market and we hadn't seen because we were in escrow on the Bungalow. It surely couldn't be as perfect as this one. It probably was out of our price range. And if it was great, it probably didn't have a back unit like this one did.
We looked into it. It was shockingly in our price range, and from what I could tell was ADORABLE. We planned to come to the open house that weekend and see if it was worth putting an offer on.
We came and saw the house. The rooms were much larger than the Bungalow and had closets for storage. Stephen could stand in the bathrooms without hitting his head. It had an old, but beautiful white kitchen and an oddly large dining room. The floors weren't uneven, and I knew there was some hardwood waiting to be revealed under the linoleum. There was a quaint, back house already occupied with tenants who were happy to stay. But the foundation? Totally in tact and strong.
Stephen's dad looked at us and said, "Well if you don't buy this house I will!!"
We put in an offer, prayed and tried not to get our hopes up too high considering how the last home went down. They accepted our offer and the house was ours. I sat in awe, blown away by God, His provision, and how He had worked in such an interesting way to bring us to what HE wanted for us. That He allowed our plans to be shattered to give us better.
Isn't that such a narrative for our walks with the Lord? We have plans, we do things right and make things happen. We set goals to make our plans work and when we are so close... BOOM it all crumbles. We are left heartbroken with our perfect plans, shattered before our very eyes. Why God, why would you destroy my plans? Why would you take away something that seemed so perfect? Why would you shatter my dreams? Are you even there? Do you even care? Obviously not.
BUT, God had a lesson to teach me. He stepped in and broke the plans I had. He took away the paint colors I had picked, the pins I had on Pinterest of creative ways to make that tiny, Bungalow work. He stepped into my home purchase, when I had shut him out of it and gave me something BETTER. The home He had for us was bigger in every way, better in every way, stronger in every way, and designed for our family beyond what we could have ever pictured. Something we didn't earn, deserve or pick for ourselves.
How crazy, right? Just when I thought God had failed me, He took away something I had thought was good... and gave me BETTER. How amazing that we serve a God that loves us that much. That even when we leave Him out of our plans, He still pursues us and wants the best for us. He still continues to lavish grace upon us even when we don't deserve it. He takes away things that are good to give us things that are best. Why would I ever want to do anything without His guidance? I've tried many times, and it always ends up the same way. A failed plan of mine for a better plan of His.
Our home now has such deep meaning for us. It isn't just our home... but it's the place God picked for us. It's the place we didn't earn ourselves or do anything to deserve. It's the place with the oddly large dining room that God asks us to use for His glory for His people. It's the home that is in a town that is obsessed with holidays and has parades and firework shows and thousands of trick-or-treaters that we get to use as an excuse to invite people into this home, share in relationship, and grow closer together, and I pray closer to God.
Is it silly that I am sharing with you God's love through our home purchase story? Definitely. Do you probably think I am crazy, oh.. I am sure of it. But I hope that if you ever see a picture of my home, or walk through it's doors... you'll be reminded of God's faithfulness... that He loves you and has better plans for you than you can muster up. It may not mean a house purchase, but it may mean that it is encouragement for you in a failed career, relationship or season of life. Know that God is pursuing you and allowing a good thing to go bad, because He has something better for you... a relationship with HIM. What could be better than that? To serve a God for the rest of your days, with the promise of eternal life with Him forever in the most amazing place ever. A life lived glorifying Him is most definitely out of your "plan", but the best you could chose.
Don't get me wrong, we have been in this home for 4 years and even though God has picked this place for us...it is 100 years old. We have most definitely had clogged pipes, bad electrical lines, leaks, paint jobs, and an endless honey do list. It's a never ending project... which again I think is a cheesy parallel to our walk with Christ. Just because He brings us the better, doesn't mean it comes without struggle here on earth. Everything on this side of heaven is still broken. John 16:33 says:
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."
That's a good word for me to remember, for you to remember. Even with Christ and His best plans for you in this world, you WILL experience tribulation... but take heart dear friend! Christ overcame the world and there is EVEN BETTER outside of this place. Eternal life with Him and with that gift brings us peace.
Okay. I'm done here with my silly correlations of my house to the Gospel but thought I'd share because it is a place where I did learn a lesson from God about his undeserved love and plans for our lives! Hope you feel encouraged today by a God that loves you and will shatter good things to bring you His best.