Just over a month ago, we sold the house in which we lived for the past 16 years. (Yes, planned pre-pandemic!) We sold our house prior to finding a new one, so we sent most of our belongings to storage and headed with five suitcases and a couple of bags to a temporary house in which we’re currently residing (and a huge blessing I might add – a home owned by friends of ours who are waiting out the pandemic in their FL residence).
Sixteen years was the longest my husband and I have ever lived in any home. (We both moved around a lot growing up). It was the only home our boys have ever known. After spending weeks and weeks packing up 16 years of memories, I watched earnestly as the last piece of furniture was carried out the front door, I listened intently as the last footsteps trounced down the hallways, and then I found myself sitting on the front doorstep of our empty, quiet home – in a space between – leaving the comforts of what was home for so long and heading into a temporary house. Sitting there, essentially, without a place to call home, no new home in sight, and unsettled as the pandemic was just kicking in and Ohio was shutting down. Yet, through my sentimental tears, a peace washed over me. God orchestrated all of this. This was His plan. And it would not only be okay, it would be GOOD.
As we have been living in this “space between,” I have asked our boys on a few occasions if they miss our old home. Each of them consistently answers, “no.” This strikes me as unusual. Especially for my youngest who has a hard time letting go of anything. (Can anyone relate here? Miles upon miles of trinkets and stuffed animals that each have their special places forever in his life….) However, when I ask him, he answers, “No, why?” often accompanied by a smirk. My oldest spent 16 years of his life there, so I thought surely at some point he may be missing our old home. Yet another, “No. Not at all.” They are simply content here in this “space between.” I imagine that their anticipation of the new home adventure that awaits far outweighs any sentiment of the old. They are excited for what’s next, though they are extremely content in this temporary space. They’re not antsy. They’re not impatient. They’re not even feeling unsettled. As I have taken notice of this, I am awestruck that their security isn’t found in the home in which they live, or even in all their stuff which, after several weeks, still sits in storage. And I know my security shouldn’t be in any of this earthly stuff either – in our housing, employment, finances, or any other things of this world. Those things may help us feel more comfortable, and they often are an important part of life, but they are not the point of life. Security comes from what we know, not from what we feel.
In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus encourages us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Ha, I think my boys might be further along on this particular journey than I am!
But let’s take a step back.
I was always unsettled in our old home. For years I could not pinpoint why. I’d like to think it was more than just the floor plan or the less than ideal commute to work. When I reflect on the journey that landed us in that home, God was certainly a part of it, but the journey was not taken with the advancing of His Kingdom in mind. After all, we had a lot of life changes ahead of us – it was early in our marriage, we had a child on the way, we each had taken on new jobs… our prayers looked more like, “God be with us” than “God lead us,” and I’m quite sure that’s about how our prayer went as we stood in the kitchen of our new home back in 2004. God blessed us in spades in that home over the past 16 years. And six weeks ago, we prayed in that same room asking for that house to be a blessing to the new family moving in the way it was such as blessing to us. I’m certain now that my restlessness in our home was God’s pull to something new that He has in store. In His timing.
I’m certain because this move has been different. As my husband and I started seriously talking about moving to a new home, our eyes became fixed on to what and where God is leading our family. Eyes fixed on Him leading us to a place that would uniquely equip us to be a refuge and to bless others. Eyes fixed on how it could be an outpouring. Our prayers haven’t just been, “God help us find a great house,” they’ve been, “God be with us in this journey, but more importantly, God, lead us.”
In his article “God Chose This Home for You”, DesiringGod.org writer Marshall Segal shares, “Your home is an invitation from God to seek God, and a commission from God to help others seek God.” I love this. It encompasses the posture we’ve been trying to maintain as we seek our new home.
I’m a huge HGTV junkie. Most all the home buying and renovation shows include a checklist of what homebuyers are looking for in their new home. I’m not sure our checklist would be HGTV-worthy, but I hope it’s Kingdom-worthy.
Our Homebuyers’ Checklist
Strong Foundation (Faith) – A solid foundation is something not always seen by the naked eye, but it is essential to any home or building. Jesus shares the following parable with his disciples, “I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Luke 6:47-49)
Open Floor Plan (Hospitality) – Does the home have the space to bless others? This is a huge one for us. There are a couple of ministries with which we are a part and we would love for the space to be used for that, or for whatever God has in store. Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds us to “…consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” But in addition to showing hospitality to those we love (that’s easy), we know that we are commissioned to expand hospitality beyond the circle of those to whom we are close. In Romans 12:13, the Apostle Paul tells us, “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” And Hebrews 13:2 reminds us, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” We don’t know exactly how this will manifest in our new home, but we anxiously await with open hearts to see what God has in store.
Sturdy Walls (Protection) – We want the full armor of God to protect us. In Ephesians 6:10, Paul tells us, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” We want our home to be upheld by walls that are not easily crumbled. 1 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Dependable Roof (Refuge) – Psalm 91:1 says, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” May we consistently look up to God and seek him in all we do. He is our ultimate shelter, whose shingles will never crumble. We keep our eyes fixed on Him. “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Close Commute (Community) – While less drive time is something that would bless us with more time, less gas mileage, etc., a closer commute for us also means we’re in closer proximity to the community with which we are a part. We were made for community. The Lord moves in community. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20) “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46-47)
Curb Appeal (Beacon) – We want to look more and more like Jesus, shining His light to others in our midst. Knowing God’s desire for this “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law,” (Galatians 5:22-23) We know that each member of our family needs to be intentional about walking in the fruit and being consistent in character. We know that if we abide in Him, we “…ought to walk in the same way in which he walked,” (1 John 2:6), keeping His word as “…a lamp for my feet and a light on my path,” (Psalm 119:105), and shining His light into our neighborhood and beyond (Matthew 5:14-16).
Above all, we need to remember that this new home we’re searching for is not really our home.
It is temporary, just as the home we’re in now is temporary. (“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” – Philippians 3:20.) He has us in this place, at this time, for His purposes. (“We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28) And those purposes are not to feel secure, safe, or comfortable, though that may be an outpouring of His blessings (“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” – Jeremiah 29:11).
And we are reminded of this again near the end of Jesus’ life here on earth, as he was comforting his disciples, and he shared, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:2-4)
In his aforementioned article, “God Chose This Home for You,” Segal encouraged, “As you enjoy this dwelling place for this allotted time, prepare your heart and family to live forever at home with the Lord.” This ultimate desire might not be found on any HGTV show, but His reality far surpasses any adventure we’ll find ourselves engrossed in on a reality TV show. “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:4)
Please pray with me.
Lord, I praise you that you have chosen us and uniquely placed us here to serve your purposes at this time. I thank you that we are blessed with the resources to even consider purchasing a home and physical shelter for our family. I pray that you prepare our hearts for the perfect place in which you want us to dwell, and pray that we can use that place to bring joy to others and glory to you. I pray all of this in the character of Jesus, Amen.