Each time I am faced with a situation where I think nobody could possibly understand how I feel, I am reminded that God understands every experience we have. For a moment, I try to do a cross check- the way one might check one’s answers to a math problem, by inserting my problem into God’s perspective to see if I can find something Biblical to back up the Truth that tells me ‘God understands’. Honestly, who would think God could understand my heartbreak when I saw my house, recently sold for half what I owed because it was uninhabitable, beyond my means to repair and basically abandoned? I saw the new MLS listing of “my” home and was instantly crushed. I must have cried for an hour. I am not sure what broke my heart more; the fact that they refurbished in three months what couldn’t be done in two years of struggling on my own, the lies I was told by people who promised to help finish the home (which led me to make the purchase in the first place), or the fact that what the builders did to “my” house was not at all the design I had for it. As I was making a cup of tea in an attempt to soothe my pitiful, broken heart I asked myself if anyone could really understand. I heard in my mind “God does”. “Do you really? Do you know how it feels to have someone take something you loved and turn it into something that looks nothing like you planned?” Matthew 21:13 came to mind. “It is written ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.” I looked up the passage that “it is written” refers to and found Jeremiah 7:11 “Has this house which has been called by My name become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it”. I acquiesced, “Okay, Lord, you do understand. The plan for your house was ignored and destroyed and the result was nothing like what you had intended for it.”
How much worse is it that the house of the Lord was desecrated than the fact that the pathetic, man-made dwelling I daydreamed about that didn’t turn out as I had planned it? I knew it would not when I sold it. It never looked like I had planned because my plans were unrealistic; plans built on lies, and egotistical, prideful, misdirected dreams. HE was not in my plan when I bought the house and the day that I closed the door behind me for the last time, I ran my hand along the banister and walked through each room and surveyed the damaged, broken, poorly constructed shell. As I did, I said out loud, “I did this to myself. I could cry all day over it, and there would still be nobody to blame but myself. It is my own sin that led to this. I deserve what I get.” That day I locked the door and brought the key to my realtor and resolved to trust that God would provide for me a life better than my daydreams could imagine.
This morning when I reviewed the listing full of pictures with flawless walls, refurbished wood floors, cozy, carpeted rooms, and a gleaming kitchen, I had forgotten my resolve from that December day. Now, after a few tears, some prayer and consideration, I find myself asking, “what good is a home if it is not filled with His praise, a loving, Christ-centered family, and inhabitants that seek him daily?” The most beautiful home in the world will crumble at just a Word upon His return. The restoration of souls who dwell within that home are what will last. Yes, warmly painted, eclectic rooms full of color and century-spanning design would make me smile upon waking every morning and upon my return after a busy day. But, is that where my pleasure should lie? No, it is to delight in Him. In my family. In my children. In serving Him where he has placed me. Nowhere in the scriptures can I find “I will praise Him because I live in a really fabulous, eclectic, Victorian house of my dreams.” Instead, “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:27
I did a search in the Word on “treasure” to see what the Bible offered. Deuteronomy 28:1-3 reads, “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all of these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.” So, let me see if I understand… no matter where I go- whether it be the city or the country, if I obey the voice of God He will give me so many blessings that I won’t be able to look in any direction without seeing them. That IS as it reads. Somehow, that old refurbished house, as lovely as it may be, does not seem to offer the same joy as innumerable blessings from God. There’s a Christian rock song that claims, “when we don’t get what we deserve, that’s a real good thing. When we get what we don’t deserve, that’s a real good thing.” It seems to me that I am winning on both counts. I did get what I deserved… I lost my house. But, with it I lost a broken, uninhabitable, money-pit. I also have received, and believe I will continue to receive, what I don’t deserve as he blesses me daily. Among the many blessings, most prized and most related to this change, are a son who is growing in the Lord daily through a school I would never have been able to place him in if I lived in that house, and a church for our family to grow in that I would never have found. To me, “That’s a real good thing.”