Who knew surrendering our home to Christ would create so much adventure?
Last May we felt this strong impression that God wanted us to sell our house. We had no idea why, but we wanted to obey Him, so we called our realtor. He asked us, “where are you moving?” We laughed and said, “we guess God will show us that detail when we get to it.”
We love our house. We’ve experienced God so much in this place. He has walked us through heartache and joy. We have updated the home with random refurbished items which include many different textures and building materials. We were good to grow old there and die there. But, we wanted God to know, we love Him more. So, the realtor hammered that sign in the front yard.
Friends would come over and see that sign and ask, “why is your house for sale? where are you moving?” We would tell them God told us to put it up for sale. “But why? And how did you know God told you to do that?”
Do you ever get that strong impression in your spirit that you know that you know, that’s Jesus? Does your spouse ever feel the same thing as you when you haven’t talked about it or dreamed about it together? Have you ever read the scriptures that tell us to surrender everything? How does one explain the voice of God, the intimacy of a journey with Jesus? Experience is our greatest teacher. The longer I’ve known Jesus, the easier it has been for me to know His voice, His leading and His direction. The more we surrender to His ways, the more our hearts understand that we don’t dream up the crazy. If our hearts and minds give us some idea we would never choose on our own, we start to understand His voice. When I have a strong sense that I should do something and that something is completely out of my comfort zone or different than what I would choose on my own, it’s a good sign that I am hearing from Jesus.
What about the really cool and creative ideas that we want to claim for ourselves? Let’s be real. We are not that smart. God fills us with the dreams and visions that we have for how to decorate our homes, teach our kids, serve our husbands and bless our friends.
Friends would confess, “when I saw that sign in your yard, I cried because I meet God in your home. I love to worship Him there and I don’t want to not be able to come over.” Really? I had no idea that friends loved my home as much or more than we loved it. Our home was a place of refuge for people, a place where they experienced Jesus.
A few months into the listing of our home, I was praying and asking God, “why is our home for sale when no one is buying it?” As I prayed and sought God, He showed me that His word is all over our house and even if we had it ‘for sale’ for Him to encourage complete strangers who came to look at it, that is enough. He reminded me how a family had stayed in our home for a week and how much He had used our home to minister to their hearts. They had shared how they walked around the house reading every scripture, picking up books to read them, and sensing the presence of Christ in a strong way. The peace of knowing our home could minister to strangers delighted me.
Then one day, He showed us a brilliant idea. What if when it sold, we moved around and lived with a different family every week for an entire year. In lieu of paying for staying with friends, we could use the money to invest in missions around the world. That excited us! We prayed more and talked to our kids. My husband said, “Let’s make a list of people we would ask to live with so God knows we are serious and that we are willing to do anything for Him.” So we did. We prayed about friends we would want to learn from, non-Christians we could live with, people who lived completely different from us, people who lived in very low financial conditions and the rich. We asked God to show us the people who would expose us to a picture of our entire society. Our kids were so excited. They commented on how one family would be difficult to live with and how another would be fun. Here we were, sitting on a park bench, dreaming about living out of suitcases for a year.
Maybe it was after God gave us the vision and helped us get a plan in place that we really started begging God to sell our home. Friends started coming over and we were asking them “what do you want out of our house?” We realized all the stuff would have to go as paying for storage would take away from our ability to give. The more we imagined our stuff scattered in all our friend’s homes, the more excited we became. We were ready to give it all away for this adventure with Jesus.
We were ready and our house wouldn’t sell. God gave us this amazing vision. He helped us make a plan for how to implement the vision. He had grabbed ahold of our hearts and made us more than begrudgingly willing. Jesus had our entire family totally pumped and excited to start moving around our city every week for the next year. Seriously, we were jubilant, joyful, let’s do this excited! And then there we sat, waiting and praying for God to sell or rent our place.
Maybe it’s about the willingness to obedience that delights Him. The complete ok to sell our home and give our stuff away may have been the ultimate lesson. Maybe the house had become a question of our devotion and delight. Did we love our place and our stuff more than Him? Maybe the entire “sell the house” journey was a pre-requisite course of “will you obey what I tell you to do with this house I have entrusted to you?”
We cannot fathom all God wanted us to learn by listing our home, but I can clearly see what we would not have learned had we sat around analyzing, debating and considering the infamous questions, “Is that God speaking to us? Does this make sense? Am I dreaming this up?” Maybe our realtor thinks we are crazy (which He did) or our friends won’t understand (which many didn’t) or our banker will question this decision (which she did), so we could have stalled, delayed or said no to the still small voice. Or, we can say, “ok, I don’t understand this, but yes, sign me up, list the house tomorrow, let’s not delay, and we will choose to trust what doesn’t make sense.”
When we say yes to what doesn’t make sense to the world, God teaches us and gives us many opportunities to share Him. Guess what our realtor said?! “Being friends with you guys makes me want to jump off the mountain with you to see what happens, to have faith too.” He saw Jesus.
We learned that our home is a place of refuge and worship for so many of our friends. We had no idea that people would weep at the thought that they wouldn’t be able to come worship Jesus at our house anymore. Knowing how much Jesus speaks to others who visit our home, makes us want to have more prayer and worship gatherings, more intentional fellowship and more random meals together. Our home is a memory maker and that’s a sweet treasure that God would use our place as a sanctuary for His people.
Our home is not our own, but it is God’s and He has entrusted it into our care. We can use for ourselves or we can use for Him. When our homes become revolving doors, they become everyone’s home.
When no one knocks anymore, God has grown a family. We have the opportunity to share our space or hoard our space. We think we need our place of refuge, but God is our refuge and He knows what we need.
In December, our realtor suggested we take the house back off the market because it hadn’t sold. We prayed about that decision and had a peace that God had something different for our home now. Maybe we had learned what we needed to learn. Maybe the realtor and some of our other friends had learned what they needed to learn as well.
So, we quit cleaning up all the time and we settled back into a house that doesn’t always have to be “show ready.” We stopped making the beds every day and our bathroom may be a little dirtier. The doors keep opening without knocks and many more people have come in and out of this place. Hundreds of meals have been consumed, prayers prayed and worship songs sung. The house is this living breathing thing full of life and purpose and hope. We are the blessed ones to be able to stay in this place that many call home.
In January our family grew again as another child moved in with us. This last week, another friend has also been living with us. Our count this week for how many sleep here is seven. That changes every week and every weekend. Our new normal is what God intended. He didn’t sell the house, because He had more plans for it.
The house was never about us, but about Him and how He will use it for His glory.
We have a new freedom with our home, a new chill. Friends help clean when they stop by or stock toilet paper for the other hundred people who will come by during the week. Another friend may drop by fresh produce or venison. For meals we plan for a minimum of eight people and we always have enough. A night with twenty five isn’t unusual. Maybe our neighbors don’t recognize the kids running around outside or the cars, but it’s not about them either. We set aside quiet times and someone may drop by to do schoolwork or use the Internet for work.
The weekends are an eclectic mix of friends meeting other friends, shared meals, naps on the sofa, people reading or sharing worship music, kids running to and fro from the creek, people sleeping everywhere and a cup of tea or coffee.
Jesus owns our place and we will do whatever He has for it next.
Romans 12:13 – “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”