Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Continuing Trials and Tribulations of House Hunting

I have several things on my mind to write about, but the thoughts filling my heart are the house we currently have an offer on.  This is a short sale, which means we are waiting for the bank to decide if our counter to their counter is acceptable.  While I really do love this house and while it is the first house I really felt at home in, I know that whatever the Lord has is best.  The past two houses, I could not imagine finding one better suited for us and each time, God always led us to a better one.  This journey, as many of you know, as been long for us, and I am so looking forward to the end of the road and pulling into my driveway in the home God provided for us for the first time.  I have written many posts about this journey and I have used many Scriptures that really caught what I was dealing with at that time.  There is one verse on my mind today and I am not sure how exactly it applies as I begin to write this post, but I hope we learn together as I write.  It is one of my favorite verses and I think it is one we all should keep on our hearts.

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, "[Are] You for us or for our adversaries?" So He said, "No, but [as] Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, "What does my Lord say to His servant?"  Joshua 5:13-14 NKJV

Dealing with a short sale can be daunting.  You basically submit an offer that your realtor enters into a computer system, which gets forwarded to the bank that holds the mortgage on the house.  That bank assigns a negotiator who you may or may not even communicate with other than contracts and counters.  If you agree on a price that price is then submitted to "investors" who have the final say.  You are dealing with unseen and unknown professionals at a large bank deciding how much money they are willing to lose to get rid of a property that is losing money.  It is a battle to find the lowest they will allow you to pay while they try to mitigate their losses and it is a battle where they hold the experience, resources, expertise, and ultimately the advantage.  It is in cases like this where Christians like to think of God being on their side.  The verse many take comfort in is:

What then shall we say to these things? If God [is] for us, who [can be] against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Romans 8:31-32 NKJV

While I would love to take that passage exactly as it was written and apply it to everything I want in life, I have to take that Scripture in the context of other Scripture.  One of those Scripture is Joshua 5:13-14, which I quoted to begin this post.  While God promises to "freely" give us "all things," it is not as open-ended as it sounds.  God certainly would not "give" us a mistress when we are married.  If God is for us, no one can come against us.  If God is for us, He will freely give us all things, but the question I have to ask is God for me?  I believe that question is answered in Joshua and affirmed by the teachings of Jesus. 

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you [are] the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw [them] into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  John 15:4-7 NKJV

Please note I am not saying that God's love for us is premised on our love for Him.  God sent His Son to die for us while we were still sinners.  The plan of salvation was planned, initiated, and performed by God alone.  We had no part in it except for our inability to live a righteous enough to earn salvation.  In that, God is for everyone as God wants everyone to be saved.  After we are saved, God is still always for us in that God wants us to grow in Him.  That said, God is not going to live our lives for us.  Yes, Jesus led the righteous life that we could not so that His death could be counted as payment for our sins, but we still live our lives.  God wants us to make the right choices, God wants us to live a life pleasing to Him, God wants us to act as the light and salt that we are, but ultimately it is our free will to live that life.  God gives us the ability, but we must choose to use it. 

It is in that day-to-day life and the choices we face and make each day that I am talking about.  God is not going to be for you when you are not walking with Him.  It is not for us to make decisions based on our own wisdom and then expect God to bless that plan and our lives through it.  God is also not going to be for us in our sin.  I refer you back to my previous example, if you are having an affair, God is not going to be for you in that relationship.  He is not going to bless it or condone it, but He does have a history of exposing it.  When faced with choices, temptations, and other decisions, our question should not be if God is for us or against us, our question should be is if we are with God. 

This brings me back to Joshua.  Joshua was poised to attack Jericho on their road to taking possession of the Promised Land.  He approached Jericho and saw a man dressed for battle.  I imagine this Man did not appear as any normal man is it would not have accounted for Joshua's reaction once He revealed who He was.  Joshua asks this Man if it was for Israel or for their adversaries and I love the answer.  His answer was "No."  While I normally hate yes/no answer when I ask someone to choose between several things, this was absolutely the perfect answer.  You see, this Man was no man, but this Man was none other than Jesus Christ.  This is one of the several Old Testament encounters with our Lord.  Joshua was asking the wrong question.  The right question was not whether or not He was with Joshua or His enemies, but the right question was to examine his own heart to see if he was with God.  God was always for Israel taking the land, but Joshua witnessed forty years of the generation that was not with God in that plan die off.  Jesus revealed who He was in the rest of His answer "but [as] Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come."  You see, the army of the Lord was ready, willing, and able with overtake their adversaries forty years prior, but Israel was not ready to follow God.  

Let's review what happened then.  Joshua, Caleb, and the team sent to spy out the land returned and gave a scary account of giants, strong armies, and an impossible task.  The people bemoaned the predicament and completely rejected the idea of the seemingly impossible odds of overtaking the land.  Hearing this response, Joshua spoke up.

But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, [who were] among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: "The land we passed through to spy out [is] an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, 'a land which flows with milk and honey.' Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they [are] our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD [is] with us. Do not fear them." And all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Now the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of Israel.  Numbers 14:6-10 NKJV

I can not say for sure, but I believe Joshua was reminded of what happened way back then.  Joshua began this exchange incorrectly wondering if God was going to be with them, but ended the conversation knowing that the real question was if Israel was now ready to follow God. 

And that brings me to where I am.  My wife and I love this house we have an offer on, and while our prayers have been about favor with the bank, there is always the caveat of whatever the Lord wills.  We do not want this house if it is not the house God wants for us.  We may think we want it, but I was ready to give up two houses ago thinking I would never find a house I liked as much as that one in our price range.  Little did I know I would find at least two others.  If God was just "for" me in that first house I would never have found this one and if this one is not the one God has for us then the next one.  We made the decision a long time ago to make this about surrender.  Anyone (and many do) can make demands of God and expect God give them whatever toys they ask for and to bless them if they do receive them.  That was Joshua's approach.  He made a demand of Jesus asking "Are you for us or against us?"  That is always our approach when we expect God to do our bidding and give us what we think we want.  However, what we should be doing is surrendering ourselves to His will.  That is what we do when we ask not for some specific thing but ask for His will in our lives.  That is what we did when we did not ask to give us this specific house but to ask God to find us the house He has for us.  It is never about God following us in our will. but us finally realizing that it is our place to follow God.  In other words, it is not about God being for us, but about us being with God, abiding in Him, and in His plan for our lives. 

Sometimes that requires patience.  This is probably especially true with me as God has been trying to teach me patience for years.  It is also about trust and knowing that even when things seem to not be working out, things are working out perfectly according to His plan.  I refer you back to Numbers for a great example of that.  To the Israelites, God's plan had a major wrench thrown into it as they came to a promised land they thought was impossible to conquer.  The lost all faith in the God that has shown them miracle after miracle and paid a dear price for their rejection of His plan.  I think I needed to be reminded of this today.  I think I needed to be reminded that though I am in an unsure position in a situation (dealing with a bank on a short sale) that I have absolutely zero power to affect, that God does have a plan and has everything under His control.  I need to trust that though this road has been very long, that God has taken me through, each step, leading me to where He has for me.  If you abide in God, you never have to wonder whether God is for you or against you because you are with God.  Sometimes that means following Him in obedience and sometimes that means waiting on Him in patience and trust.  Right now I am in the latter place and that is another lesson I am learning from this.  I closed many of these postings with Proverbs 3:5-6, but I am not going to today.  Not that is not just as applicable this time than any other time but because I looking at it from a different perspective.  As we trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding, sometimes we walk on the path God made for us and sometimes we have to sit back and wait for Him to clear it first. 

Be still, and know that I [am] God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The LORD of hosts [is] with us; The God of Jacob [is] our refuge. Selah  Psalm 46:10-11 NKJV

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this. It was exactly what I needed right now. I've been frustrated for a situation of my own and this reminded me that ALL of it is about Gods plan, and our plan is nothing compared to the tapestry He is weaving.