Tuesday, May 7, 2013

That Red House

My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?   How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!
2 Kings 5:13

Obedience is not exactly my second nature.  Ask my husband.  Ask my mother.  They both tell stories of my opposition and defiance.  I have to say, I don't even recognize the person in these stories.  Well... maybe I do... a little.  It's just that I think too much.  Yeah, that's it.  I'm too smart to be obedient.  I'm more purposeful than other people.  I think things through - I weigh the options - I do things (or don't do them) for good reason - my reason.  Some rules just don't apply to me.  Sure.  And if you believe all of that, I can probably convince you to buy that All-Cure Elixir I happen to have in my little ol' medicine wagon.  Step right up, folks...

So, we're buying a house.  I didn't like the process of selling our house before moving.  I can totally understand the reason for real estate agents - to keep buyers and sellers from shouting matches or worse as they negotiate price, inspection work, repairs, closing dates, etc.  We're in the middle of it now - paperwork, contracts, addendums.  OMG - way too many people with way too many sign here's and initial there's.  I keep reminding myself to keep the end in sight - we will have a place of our own once again.  A retreat.  A refuge.  A place to rejuvenate, readjust, relax.  

This house buying thing has been kind of a voyage.  We started off thinking we wouldn't buy for the next two years.  We would stay in post housing.  Everything was set up; the timing was perfect.  We would only be in temporary lodging for a little over a week before move-in.  Until we got the phone call.  The one saying our post house wouldn't be available for another 25 days.  Twenty-five days!  That was not going to work - not with jobs starting.  Not with our dogs - no yard for another month??  We'd already moved our household goods onto the truck and into temporary storage.  This would mean moving it all four more times - No way!  So - a'hunting we went for a rental out in the community.  Which we found.

And soon found that we were spoiled rotten.  No garage.  No fence.  The rooms weren't convenient to our lifestyle.  We didn't like the flooring.  The windows were fogged.  There wasn't enough storage...
Believe me, if there was something wrong, we found it.  Spoiled rotten.  

There were a lot of things we liked about living off post.  We had no fence, but we were on two acres of land - part woods, and part grass.  The woods were gorgeous in the fall - showing off beautiful colors.  Snow, when it came, transformed those two acres.  I took lots of pictures - of snow, of spring flowers - even weeds as they came in and spread through the grass - purple flowers, blue and white blossoms.  Even dandelions.  We found a wonderful church with a vibrant membership - truly reaching out in the community with a variety of missions and programs.  We liked the area.  We liked the location - about two hours from a lot of things - beach, city, country, mountains.  We liked the climate.  So we started thinking about a forever home - a place to retire.  Just one more move.  A place of our own again.

We've been naming the houses we liked.  First, there was the Boat House.  By a lake.  Just before we put an offer in, we found that the owners had accepted another.  One down.  Then there was the Gingerbread House.  We saw a lot of potential in this one - but it would also take some up-front funds to make it do-able for us.  We offered.  They countered.  We countered back.  They countered back.  It wasn't going where we needed - and we decided we didn't like it enough to go any higher - so this one dropped out.  Then there was the Red House.  What a beauty.  It had everything we wanted - everything we needed.  And the price had just been reduced.  We offered.  I prayed.  I intended to ask God about His intentions for us and hopefully this house - to communicate a direction to us.  But my prayer never got that far....  

Me:  God, I really, really want that red house. 
Crystal Clear Voice in My Head:  I really want you to write.

Convicted.  Ok.  I'll write.  Obediently.  And trust that God knows what he's doing with these houses...  That's when I started being faithful to this blog - 

In the meantime, the Red House offer was countered.  I called my realtor to accept and she told me the sellers had accepted another  - one that had come in about 30 days prior to ours, but had been held up for whatever reason.  In the space of a couple of hours, we had lost that Red House.  I knew, then, that it wasn't the home God was preparing for us.  It broke my heart a little - but it was clearly not meant to be.  And I continued to write. 

So we found another one.  We called it the Castle House.  It, too, would take some work and we knew that price was a bit of an issue.  It had been on the market for a year, but the sellers weren't coming down.  So we waited - our agent went on vacation for about three weeks - and we waited.  We were ready, when she returned, to put an offer in and see if it would be accepted.  

God is kind of funny.  He doesn't always do things the way we expect.  Way back in the Old Testament, there was a guy named Naaman, who was commander of the army of the King of Aram.  He had leprosy.  So, from a captive Israelite, he heard of the prophet Elisha.  He heard incredible things about the power of this prophet - or rather, the power this prophet had been given through his God - the God of Israel.  This captive convinced Naaman that Elisha could heal him of his leprosy.  Naaman went to his King with the hope he would be released to get healed.  The King of Aram wrote a letter to the King of Israel - telling him how he valued Naaman and wished him to be made whole.  It's almost comical - the miscommunication.  The King of Israel read the letter and couldn't understand why the King of Aram thought he could heal anyone.  He wasn't a healer.  He was a King....  Apparently, he was so distressed by King Aram's missive that he tore his robes - ranting that he wasn't God, he couldn't bring people back to life.  He figured the King of Aram was trying to pick a fight with him.

Elisha heard about the letter.  He knew he was the healer.  He sent for Naaman to come to him.  So Naaman went.  He never actually saw Elisha.  The prophet sent him a message through his servant, to bathe seven times in the Jordan and he would be healed.

This is where God's sense of humor really shines.  Naaman was angry with the message.  He had in his head that being healed by a prophet of the great God of Israel would at least involve a laying on of hands - some kind of ritual and incantation.  He thought he would, at minimum, see the prophet face to face.  He even complained about the choice of the Jordan River - saying there were other, better bodies of water he could use - cleaner ones that would make more sense to cleanse him of his disease.

It was Naaman's servant who spoke the words that made sense - that convinced him to do what Elisha had said.  It was simple, really.   My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?   How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!  

The Castle House.  The day our agent returned from her vacation, we were going to make an offer on the Castle House.  The day came and I went online to look at the pictures one last time before contacting her.  We had just driven by the house again the day before - rechecking the neighborhood, the property, and everything.  I went online to look at it - and it was gone from my listings.  From the listings our realtor sends out.  Could someone else have made an offer while we waited?  No.  It wasn't there because the sellers had decided to increase the price during our wait.  It was now, definitely, out of our reach.  God isn't always subtle.

Then we found the French Quarter House.  The house we are in the middle of buying.  It is everything we wanted - everything we needed.  It is closer to our church.  It will take less upfront work than any of the other houses we looked at.  It fulfills my need for unique.  I can picture us there; I picture writing there, cleaning there, cooking and entertaining.  A home.  A refuge.  A retreat.  We're supposed to close in June.

Hmmm... I really want you to write.  It's not really a great thing - a laying-on-of-hands-blare-or-the-trumpet-thing.  It's really very simple - like Wash and be cleansed.  Oh!  And guess what color the French Quarter House is?  Yup, it's red.

Thank you, God, for taking such good care of us.  Help us go to you with our questions.  Help us to listen to you and to obey.  You are an amazing teacher. 

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