We really grew to hate house-shopping.
It was fun at first, the whole family piling in the car to go look for our potential dream home. It was an adventure of sorts, a treasure hunt.
But after weeks of treasure hunting all day every. single. Saturday. and lots of days in-between, I think we were all wearied of it.
“Are we going to go look at houses again, Mom?” the kids would groan, even though they were as anxious to move as we were.
But nothing seemed to be panning out. Only a tiny fraction of the house listings we found online offered something the right size in the right price range in the right area. The vast majority of those we could mark off our list with a quick drive-by.
We did find a few acres of land we fell in love with. The location wasn’t exactly ideal, but it was close, and so we considered it and prayed about it from Saturday until Monday. The land had been for sale for weeks and my husband had already talked to the owner about it once, but when he called back early that morning, the man had literally just signed a contract on it.
We began running into that same problem again and again. When we did find listings that seemed a good fit, we couldn’t find them fast enough to get a bid in before someone else did! One house in particular seemed to be in the perfect location, the price was right, and the view from the back porch was amazing. This was the house I wanted! We called for a showing and, you guessed it; the owner had just signed a contract on it.
And so the searching continued.
I realize now a lot of good came from that time spent searching. Without it we may never have learned what mattered most to us in a house. Some of the things we thought were so important in the beginning we began to see were impractical or unnecessary. Other things began to matter to us more, and we also learned better what areas of town we liked best.
But at the time the search seemed miserably long and filled with disappointment. I finally reached the point I was willing to buy anything, something that would meet our needs, even if it wasn’t really what we wanted or where we wanted it to be. I just wanted the search to be over. I was exhausted with the waiting and with the uncertainty. And so we drove to look at a very respectable house in a nice little neighborhood on the west side of town.
And I left there so depressed.
There was nothing wrong with that house! It was a pretty, well-maintained home with a nice yard in a fine neighborhood. There was just nothing about it that excited me. It was better than what we had, it was closer to where we wanted to be, but it wasn’t a house I wanted – it was just a house I was willing to settle for – and while I thought settling for something would be better than this endless searching, I felt absolutely miserable at the thought of actually doing it.
I went home that night and cried my eyes out. There was a scripture I had clung to for weeks, Psalm 84:3…
“…The sparrow hath found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young.”
But I liked the way the ESV said it better…
“Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young.”
I had stumbled across that scripture in the most remarkable way and had found such hope in it, but now as I looked at it, I didn’t really feel sure the home I found would be one I loved.
But even as I was trying to accept that harsh reality, I felt guilty for thinking it. Hadn’t I prayed and prayed about this? Hadn’t I told God I was trusting Him for direction, confident he would work things for good? And yet here I was, believing Him to answer and provide, but only in the most meager and unhappy way.
Sometimes I think we struggle with the idea that God might actually want to bless us, to give us good things of His abundance. We cringe at those who present God as some kind of Santa Claus, stationed there on High for the express purpose of giving us everything we want.
And yet, if we aren’t very, very careful, we can take things too far the other direction, convincing ourselves God doesn’t care about the desires of our heart, (even though His word says He does, Psalm 37:4,) or that His plans for us, though wise and ultimately designed for our spiritual good, are nonetheless bitter and harsh and always in opposition to what we want. But what of Matthew 7:11, or Psalm 34:8? What about Psalm 107:9, and Jeremiah 29:11?
Before that night was over, a strange sort of peace had settled into my heart that God would indeed provide us with a home. And not just with one that could meet our needs, but with one we could love.
Remember the house with the spectacular view from the back porch? The following Monday I found out the contract on it had fallen through and the house was back on the market. I called my husband, then called the realtor and set up a time for a showing. I was beyond excited!
“Yeah, and I saw another house on there, too,” said my husband. I knew the one he was talking about. I had just seen it myself. “Maybe we could go by and see it, since we’ll be in town anyway.”
It was a new build. We hadn’t really been looking at new houses, but it wouldn’t hurt to go by and see it. My husband even called the owner and set up a time to meet there later.
We went to the first house, the one I had been so devastated to hear was under contract before, and though the view was as gorgeous as ever, the layout inside was not as nice as I had imagined. It was a little disappointing, but there were still things we liked about the house, so it wasn’t a definite no. The realtor told us then about another house that hadn’t even gone on the market yet – even told us where we could find a hidden key so we could look inside – and we immediately headed that direction.
Amazing yard. A barn my husband drooled over. But the house itself was almost identical to the one we were living in, except with a basement. That wasn’t an altogether bad thing – we had said many times we could be content with that house we had if it had a basement and more property with it – but did we really want to move into a house exactly like the one we had? But again, it wasn’t a no.
It seemed our excitement was building with each house we visited. We made our way to the new build about dusk and, I can’t describe it exactly, but it was truly love at first sight. It was a gorgeous little Craftsman-style bungalow with a porch with columns that reminded me so much of my grandparents’ old house in southeastern Kentucky. There was a massive oak tree to one side – a colossal beauty that lent so much character to the yard and to the house itself. The backyard was giant and tree-filled, but with plenty of flat running room for hitting baseballs and throwing frisbees.
One step inside the house and we were overwhelmed. It wasn’t the largest house we looked at, but it was definitely the most beautiful, and the most perfectly designed for our family. My kids were instantly in love, and later my youngest would even tell me, “I don’t know what it was about that place, Mom, but, right away, it just felt like home.”
And that’s exactly what it has become to us. 😊
God could have given us a house that met our needs and been done with it. That would have been an answer to prayer, but He also gave us a home we love. It didn’t happen on our timetable, certainly, but it happened, and according to a plan that is so much wiser and better than anything I could have come up with on my own. He really does have a way of working everything for good, just like His word promises, if we can only be patient and trust Him to do it.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.” Psalm 63:3