Ever have a transcendent moment of peace in the middle of a storm?
Christmas Eve at church was raucous. The thunderstorms happening outside rivaled the noise of the worshipers inside – greeting each other, singing, talking about plans for the rest of the weekend, taking photos, shouting goodbyes and merry Christmases. Our church saw thousands upon thousands of people that day. I spent the morning with some precious toddlers in the kids’ area before moving out into the hall and auditorium to help with doors, and dodging people to get to my post, greeting hundreds as they walked in and out of our doors, then readying the auditorium for the next service was the biggest and best whirlwind of a Christmas Eve I’ve had since I was much younger.
During the second service, I took a break in the volunteers’ area behind the scenes. Another volunteer started chatting with me, and told me he works for a mortgage lending company. “You must get some great deals on houses!” I joked. “Not really; I’m subject to the market rates like most people,” he answered. “But I had a great house once, and the early 2000s were quite a time to be a mortgage broker. I thought I had it all,” he continued. “A huge house with lots of amenities and electronics, a pool, a great job . . . and then 2008 happened.” He looked down at his napkin of Christmas cookies. “The company I worked for went bankrupt. I lost almost everything. Rebuilding has taken a long time,” he mused.
I told him my story about trying to buy a house a year ago, and how painful it was. Husband and I found our perfect home, in its perfect location, only to have the sale blow up the day before we were supposed to close.
You read that right: The day before we were supposed to close. On our intended closing day, I rented a two-bedroom apartment for us instead.
“The stuff we have? It’s not ours. It’s all God’s. It’s never ours. We steward it, but it’s His,” he said.
“Now that I’ve lost everything, I’m much more loose with the things I do have. I give away more. I give it away in faith that God’s going to use it better than I would. [Gosh, I wish my husband would think like that.] He knows what He’s doing with the things he entrusts us with, and the things He entrusts others with.
“Our things aren’t ours. They belong to God.”
Deep inhale. And exhale. What incredible faith he showed me, right when I needed it.
Because it’s Christmas and we were about to give and receive plenty of “things.” Because the thing husband and I want most is a house that is completely ours. Because we’re actively but cautiously looking at houses again. We have been saving, budgeting, and giving up/postponing luxuries big and small to place ourselves in a better position to buy this time around. We have been praying for God to guide us to the home where He wants us to expand our tent.
We might be disappointed again.
The houses on the market are not our homes to buy. And it may or may not be our time to buy.
He’s going to decide where we’ll eventually plant our tent stakes. He’ll decide how big the tent will be.
Knowing that such a huge decision is in His hands, and not mine, makes me feel oddly at peace. I don’t need to worry about an offer being accepted, or a home inspection coming back clean, or financing coming through as needed. One or more of those things may go awry, but He’s behind it all, working in everything according to the purpose of His will.
I thanked the guy for sharing his story, and strolled back out into the whirlwind. We lit candles in the hall before going in to the auditorium to share our light. And I had this sense of peace that transcended all my understanding of the past 13 months and the disappointments, hurt, arguments, blaming, and frustration those months brought us.
A house won’t be completely ours because it will belong to God, too. I pray that He will entrust us to steward a home wisely, and that we would use it as a base from which to show others needed hospitality, strengthen our family, and praise His works in our lives.
Peace. In the middle of a whirlwind. Merry Christmas.