After all of the crazy confirmation and blessing that we had received about this house, you'd think I would have been floating on cloud nine all the way to the closing table, nary a drift of worry crossing my blissful mind... am I right?
I mean, surely, after a person has such an amazing experience as that- gifts from anonymous donors and dreams that become reality and provision only moments after taking a leap of faith- you'd think that a person like that would have no reason to doubt or grumble or fear ever again!
May I direct your attention to the Israelites who wandered in the desert for 40 years?
That is totally me. I would have fit right into that group of ol' stiff-necks. I mean, they were led out of slavery through a sea split in two! They followed a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night! Water was spewing from rocks and and they woke up every morning to find miracle-food growing on the ground in front of them! And yet... they grumbled. They complained. They kept trying to devise ways to go back to Egypt and get rid of Moses for good. They didn't believe in God's goodness toward them, even after all they'd seen with their own eyes. And they were not just reading Bible stories about what God had done one time, they were ACTUALLY drinking rock water and eating honey flakes called manna and walking on solid ground through a canyon made not of rock but the waters of the Red Sea. Oh, and their shoes never wore out, through all those 40 years. Even still, they doubted.
I am no better than they.
After we'd accepted the counter-offer on the house, I spent the next few weeks trying to convince myself that it was all too good to be true... that I needed to be preparing myself for the moment when it would all get pulled out from underneath me and all my hopes would be dashed. It was now mid-February, and we weren't meant to close until April 2nd. Inspections were sure to reveal some disastrous blemish! Financing was sure to fall through at the last minute! I didn't tell many people about the house, so that I wouldn't have to explain anything after it came to nothing. I didn't allow myself to mentally arrange furniture in the rooms, nor did I let myself daydream about the sunsets or the schools or the large piece of land my boys could run and grow on. I avoided thinking about the house like it was the plague, and I picked up my security blanket of... grumbling.
I furrowed my brow. I started planning for the worst. Expecting it, even! Every time Chris would talk about the "new house", I mentally scolded myself to not believe it until it was actually, irrevocably true. And as I dwelt longer upon these thoughts of "this is too good to be true and therefore will not be given to me", I started to believe them. And as I started to believe them, I got angry.
Now, I believe that there is some wisdom in guarding yourself against disappointments, when the things you are hoping for are on this temporal earth. After all, the only hope that is anchored secure is our hope in God and all that He has promised to those who believe in Him: the promise of heaven and His victory over death. But there's also this pesky kind of hope that springs up in the human heart whenever good things are on the horizon... and what are we supposed to do with that?? Strangle it to death, as I was trying to do??
I can see now that my fault came when I started filling my mind with my own truth, rather than God's truth- the things He says about Himself in the Bible. I was clinging to the 'worst case scenario' in the name of self-protection, when I should have been clinging to the truths of who God is and resting in His promised protection.
He loves me. His plans for me are GOOD. He is the anchor of my soul. He is a very present help in times of trouble. He who keeps me does not sleep nor slumber. If He is for us, who can be against us? Though the earth gives way, we will not fear. He is our refuge and strength, our strong tower.
These would have been much more life-giving and faith-building thoughts to hold on to in those weeks of uncertainty... when my very hopes and dreams were on the line. I should have stayed myself on Him and Him alone. Instead, I hung on to my own philosophy: "If it all falls apart, at least I'll be able to say 'I told you so!'"
Oh, if I could do it over again, I would have waited on God in faith, rather than stewing angrily in my fortress of self-protection, with its tissue paper walls and quicksand foundation!
Thankfully, God did not abandon me to my huffy-puffy state. He came and rescued me from myself and lifted my chin up. And He did it all with such gentleness and love, despite my crossed arms and dug-in heels! I will be forever grateful.
One Saturday evening, Chris made plans for us to drive up to the house, without the boys, and he brought along a bottle of wine and two fancy glasses. For the entire 30 minute drive up there, I was steeling myself against treacherous hope, and filling my mind with thoughts of "this probably isn't going to happen, so don't let your heart get excited". The constant effort it took to keep my mind off of this house was taking a toll on me. I was weary and tired and on the edge.
He pulled the car around the back of the property, behind the big barn, where all we could see was land and trees and sky and horses. It was cold outside. I felt like a trespasser. (Technically, I guess I was. heh.) He opened up that bottle of wine and he poured me a glass, and then he reached for my hand. We walked the property and sipped our wine and talked. As my feet walked that patch of earth that night, something miraculous happened. All those heavy days of self-protection and doubt and anger started to melt away, and I felt... hope. Hope in God. Hope that the God who'd brought us this far would not abandon us now in the ninth hour. Hope that, even if this house didn't become ours, there was a good and sovereign reason for this all to have happened.
By the time we got back to the car, I felt one hundred pounds lighter. I felt less like a trespasser and more like a steward. My countenance had brightened. I felt joy and peace. The drive home was filled with excited talking and dreaming and wonder. I was filled with gratitude and completely in awe that God had chosen to speak to us so clearly about so many things.
I began to trust God more than I feared disappointment. It was a big shifting point for me.
The following evening, we went to a meeting at our church. We'd recently introduced covenant membership at our church, meaning that you choose to link arm-in-arm with the other believers in the church body and you identify yourself with them, through the good or the bad. You 'sign on the dotted line', if you will, and become accountable to the leaders and the people. You commit.
The class went along normally and at the end, our pastor told us we were going to take communion and end in prayer. Chris and I filled out the form to commit to Bridgeway Church, and we went to take communion. As soon as we got back to our seats, with the piece of bread for communion in our hands, the strangest thing happened. What I thought was just an ordinary class suddenly became so much more. As I took communion, I was suddenly and completely overwhelmed with gratitude and joy. After all of those months of crying out to God to lead us to where we should go, He had lead us here! We got to stay and be a part of this community that had become like a family to us over the past six years, and we got to commit to this place we that we loved so dearly... the place that we had so dreaded the thought of leaving.
It was like the floodgates opened up and all of the hope that I'd been holding back bursted through. In that moment, I just knew that the house was going to be a gift from Him, and I allowed myself to truly THANK God for it for the first time. I could not stop weeping. When I looked over at Chris, he was weeping too. It was a completely unexpected moment. We must have looked like crazies sitting there in a membership class, weeping with joy and thankfulness over our class notes and information packets.
God had come through and answered our prayers. He had been faithful to lead us.
He is a trustworthy Father!
There were definitely more hiccups and bumps to come, but what I didn't realize was that God had already given Chris a dream that would carry us through them in confident assurance. The specifics of the dream were so incredibly spot on to what actually ended up happening, that I will forever and always come back to it in times when my faith is lacking.
And, oh! I hope and pray that it will be a help to you all in those times of trial as well.
Thank you all for your continued support as I write out this story! I am grateful for each one of your comments and emails. xoxoxoxo