On this day…

One of the things I appreciate about Facebook is its “On This Day” feature.  It can serve as a great reminder of what we’ve accomplished, overcome, and experienced.  Diaries used to do that, or, if you’re a guy, “journals.”  Facebook just makes it more convenient.

My “on this day” from a year ago includes two posts.  The first from 2:32 am was a lengthy quote from Psalm 37 (vs 1-8).  The time gives you a little idea of my state of mind–I couldn’t sleep.  The second was from 4:06 pm:

To clarify what is buried in another post and cryptic replies:
Our house deal is officially a bust. We are starting over. It was a long, difficult process that at the end the seller refused to close or comply with other contract terms. As much as my nature is to fight, hold people accountable, punish wrongdoing, and generally be real-estate Batman, we have decided to walk away.
No clue as to what is next, but we are trusting God for the right house at the right time.

That’s my “stiff-upper-lip” voice.  The words were carefully chosen to not betray the devastation that Kelli and I felt.  I was a volatile mix of enraged and inconsolable.  The house deal I referred to was supposed to be the culmination of a months’ long process where we sold our house in Florida, moved across the country to Tacoma, Washington, because God told us to come out here, become part of this city, and start a new church.  When I wrote these posts, our stuff had been in storage for about 2 months.  We had been living in a hotel for more than 6 weeks.  The deal that was originally to close on November 1 had been pushed to December 28th.  We endured delays, lies, and thousands of dollars of unrecoverable expense because we were certain that THIS house was part of God’s crazy plan–and because there was NO viable “plan B”.  On December 28, 2016, we found out we didn’t even have a Plan A.

Lots of friends encouraged us; the general sentiment was “God must have a better plan.”  That sounds great, unless you’re the one living in the hotel, with a dog, two cats, and a wife that’s had more than enough.  I second-guessed everything I thought I knew about the journey that had brought us to that moment.

“Seriously, God?  We stepped out, big time, obeying you and putting everything on the line.  And THIS is how you reward us?”

I’ll spare you the rest of that rant.  It’s not the best example of how a devoted Jesus follower should talk.

While I truly appreciated our friends’ encouragement, it didn’t help much.  I’d said similar words to others, knowing they were true, and in a small corner of my mind, I hung desperately on the belief that they had to be true now, too.  But it didn’t help much.  I knew that we were looking at another 6-8 weeks of hotel living, and couldn’t imagine a better option than the one we had lost out on.  We looked at EVERY house that came on the market. Nothing was even mildly interesting, let alone something to get excited about.  Every option was literally, “can we make this acceptable enough to not hate coming home every day.”

It was almost two weeks later when an open house showed up that looked promising.  Not exactly the same neighborhood we were looking in, but close.  We went by after touring a rapidly filling new apartment complex that we could get into immediately… an apartment.  We were that desperate. We went to the open house, just in case.

This is it:  Our 1907-built Craftsman home is more than we could have hoped for, and waaayyyy better than what we lost out on.

On THIS day, one year later, I’m incredibly happy that the events of 365 days ago happened.  I run past the first house fairly regularly.  We would be miserable there.  It was too small, the street is much narrower, my garage wouldn’t have come close to being what I needed, let alone as amazing as what I have now.  We wouldn’t have had room to let my parents, and then our kids, live with us while they are looking for a place to live nearby.

Proverbs 3:5-6 is a verse that a lot of us Jesus followers memorize.  You may have even seen it on a desk calendar or motivational poster.  I like the Message version:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

A year later, everything’s not perfect.  There’s still no church.  I don’t even know how that’s going to happen; everything I’ve attempted to make it happen over the past 12 months has been unsuccessful.  But I have had a great year nonetheless.  I’ve been able to spend time with my family, make new friends, serve my new neighborhood, and most importantly, I’ve gotten at least a little closer to God, which helps me better trust him.  And I’m learning that’s what he really wants:  me to be closer to Him.

As we approach the New Year, I pray that this past year has been one of good things for you, and that better things are ahead.  I hope you’re not in the same boat I was one year ago, when everything seemed hopeless.  But if you are, I encourage you to believe that God is keeping you on track.  Listen for his voice, trust Him.  He loves you. Believe it.

Happy New Year!

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