I’ve been cautious in sharing the events of the last two weeks. You may have caught some comments on Twitter or Facebook. But in just a few short days, we have riden the roller coaster of highs and lows, and now it feels like the ride has come to a complete stop and we’re caught in the loopty-loop; upside down.
Let me bring you up to speed.
It was Tuesday, June 19th. It was before lunch. I was in my office, preparing for my farewell message at St. Paul’s. Amy called with some exciting news. She had received a phone call from a friend about a housing opportunity. As you know we are in the market for a home somewhere in the North Strabane area. She, said that this couple was looking at a property to invest in and wondered if we would be interested in renting, or leasing, or even leasing to own the property from them. They had plans to tour the house that afternoon and sent us a link so we could look at.
Upon looking at the photos, we immediate recognized the house, knowing exactly where it was. I have always like this house, as it was one that we passed frequently when we lived in the area, and now as we have passed by it many times making trips in and out of Peters. We were very interested in this house.
Later that night, while helping some friends of our move into their new home, we heard from the couple. They said that while the house needed some work, there was great potential and that it had more than enough space for our family. Properties like this one are hard to come by but in order to get this one, and hearing that there was another interested party, an offer had to be made ASAP. Having seen the pictures, we said we were in and an offer was made.
We were thrilled. Because of our unique situation, we had been praying for God to provide housing in a supernatural way. Leasing homes is expense and being that we are part of a church plant that is less then 18 month old, finding a bank to provide a mortgage was proving difficult. God would have to do something amazing.
We were very excited about this prospect and thought to give our real estate agent a call and a heads up. We had been working to arrange a day of house shopping the coming Friday and this new could change our plans. Amy tried to call, but the cell reception in the area we were was horrible, so the call was not completed. But when we got home, both our emails contained the same message from our agent; CALL ME IMMEDIATELY. WE MIGHT HAVE A POSSIBLE LEASE TO OWN OPPORTUNITY! And below that, a link to the property. When we clicked on the link we discovered, it was the same house.
How could this be? Did she know?
The next day we started connecting the dots. It appeared that there was another interested party, our realtor and a friend from the new church. At the same time, both parties, unbeknownst to the other, saw this same house and each thought it would be a perfect house for us. How often does this happen? We were amazed.
Long story short, we saw the house that Friday, and while, yes, it NEEDED work, there was great potential. Our friend and her husband who initially called us did make an offer which was accepted by the seller. We just had to say yes, and the process would move forward and we would have a home.
So we celebrated.
That same weekend, was my last Sunday at St. Paul’s. I preached at both service and the church hosted a sweet farewell brunch for us. Along with the brunch a thank you gift was presented to us. We were told this was happening so not to be caught off guard. An amount was not disclosed and we asked that it not be disclosed, to us or the congregation. We would find out the amount after the worship service, that way I could focus on teaching the Word.
Meanwhile, knowing that Harvest would not be able to provide a full salary this first year, I had been praying that God would provide the resources that would allow me to focus on planting the church without the worry of financial need. I was pretty specific in my request to him, but kept it to myself. I didn’t even tell Amy what I was praying for until that weekend. Well after the services, when we got home from church, we looked at the gift. God had answered my prayer.
What was happening here?
We prayed for a house to be provided. We prayed for God to provide for us financially. Now in one week we had a home and we were able to focus on Harvest. On the Wednesday of my last week in the office, I made the trip to Peters to meet with a Harvest board member, to attend the home inspection, and to seek out some part time job prospects to help us with things like medical insurance and additional salary to help with living expenses and home repairs. Another prayer was answered. In an amazing way, I drove home having received a job to be trained as a manager of a McDonald’s. Once again, it looked like God was providing for us in some truly unexpected ways.
You want to talk about mountain top experiences, we were celebrating a big one. In one weeks time we had a home, a financial plan, and a part time job. And we were amazed. We began sharing what God had been doing, believing that each one of these events was part of the exciting story we would tell when we told people about Harvest Church. I was overwhelmed and couldn’t stop thinking and praising God for what was happening. I wanted so much to be able to give him all the glory, and to boost of his faithfulness.
However, last weekend, we started coming down from the mountain top. It appeared that the inspection report turned up some pretty significant issues. On top of that, a contractor looked at the house and found even more problems. We met with our would-be landlords and were told of the issues. Indeed there were major issues. Amy and I were concerned, but I said that we needed to trust God. After all, he was giving us this house. We just had to wait for the negotiations to take place.
During all of this time another problem arose. It appeared that the buyers of our house in Somerset had disappeared. Despite numerous attempts made by our agent to find out where we were in the selling of our Somerset house, we found ourselves relisting our house. The buyers and their agent wouldn’t return any calls. So with 5 weeks wasted on these absent buyers, our house is back on the market. Disappointing, yes. Discouraged. No.
But then the crushing blow. On Friday, of last week, we learned that the negotiations on our house in North Strabane had come to an end. With the costs to repair the major issues in the structure of the house being so high and the sellers unwilling to help or budge from their selling price, our potential landlords had to walk away from the deal.
From the tippy-top of the mountain, to the valley of death below; our roller coaster ride of emotions has left us with our house in Somerset for sale, and no home to move into in the Peters area. It’s a low I have never experienced.
One moment we’re singing God’s praises for a house and provision and a job and the sale of our house. And the next moment we’re crying out, ‘God, what is going on here! Didn’t we see your hand in this? We’re you not answering the prayers we fervently prayed? Are you now not providing the very things we gave up to you?’
I know there is a lesson in this. And I know that this is all part of the story that God is writing for us and his church. And I know that we will again sing his praises. But right now… what do I praise him for?
“God, I know there is nothing that you can’t do! But right now, I don’t know what you are doing. I want to praise you for all that you have done. But right now, I don’t know how to praise you.”