It has now been a little over a year since we first thought of beginning our Journey to Unindebtedness, and I have to say that it has been the most challenging year of my life, and I’ve little doubt that my wife would not say the same. It has been trying and complex, but, through it all, we cannot help but to have seen the sovereign hand of good and gracious God through it all. Even so, living life from day to day has been constant challenge to our faith and consequently to our godliness, and dealing with the struggles that seem to come up constantly can easily blind us to the Reality that encompasses it all. It is for us, as it were, a missing of the forest for the trees.
And while we must live our lives from day-to-day and direct each one toward the glory of God, it is of utmost importance to live a life of reflection upon the goodness of our God in Christ. For in not doing so (to which I can readily testify), we effortlessly fall into fits of grumbling and disbelief, much like the Israelites of old who grumbled against the God who for them parted the Red Sea. Therefore, this post is for me a reflection upon these things, and it also a much needed update in the series that I hope will be of some edification to you and your strivings for Christ-likeness.
When I begin to reflect, it almost surreal that it was only a year ago that I was sitting on the deck of a beach house, chewing on the stem of a pipe, and thinking upon what we could do to place ourselves in a position where we could quickly (relatively speaking) rid ourselves of our debt so that we might have a life that was free to live and to give for the sake of Christ and his church. Our situation at the time was pretty bleak for a couple of our age—ensnared by a mortgage which we could hardly afford, barely making minimum payments to a number of creditors, and living from paycheck to paycheck to stay in a house that was so far from our friends, our families, and our church. To make matters all the worse, I picked up a second job on the weekends so that for upwards of four months I scarcely had a day off. I was disconnected from my wife, my friends, my family, and my church, and it all was for the sake of “just getting by.”
It was in this that the Lord began to work to bring us out of our state of spinning tires in the bog to one where we could make some real headway on ridding ourselves of our slavemaster. We had determined in that week of contemplation that the best way to rid ourselves of debt was to buy some land, by a temporary, livable structure to place on it, to sell our home, and to do all of this as inexpensively as possible.
For those familiar with the area, you know that buying cheap land in Wake County is about as possible as finding a needle in a haystack. Even more, we were quite determined as to where we wanted to live in that we did not want to live farther away from our families, our friends, our church, and our workplaces. And even though our list was so determined, God graciously bestowed upon us a piece of land that was closer to work, closer to family, closer to friends (well, closer to most of them), and two miles from where our church met. Even more, this land had septic and water and was formerly the home of other temporary, livable structures. And even more than that, we bought it at a price that was well below what it is worth. All these things done by the hand of an almighty and merciful God. Praise him!
As for the temporary, livable structure, it so happened that in due time my wife’s father’s friend had one such structure that was essentially sitting unoccupied in his backyard. That structure had been the property of his brother who had recently passed, and his widow was all the more willing to be rid of it. And so we purchased said unoccupied, temporary, livable structure with the gracious help of my father-in-law and had it moved to the property on which we recently closed in October.
And though that was such a huge hurdle, what was perhaps a much greater hurdle was working on our house and getting it prepared to sell. There were a number of things that needed to be done—putting closets in two bedrooms that had none (but formally did), replacing the floors of two bathrooms, replacing carpet in our living room, replacing the heat pump, and a gazillion other smaller things—all of which, when coupled with the terrible market we trying to enter (considering there were at least five other properties within view of our front door that had been for sale for several months prior to our desired market date), made our task seem at best an impossible one. And yet we trudged along through holidays and two jobs (seemingly blindly at points), counting on and praying that God would do the same thing that he did with the land and the mobile home with our house.
And so it came to the point that we were ready to sell our home, and we had contacted one of three realtors provided through Dam Ramsey’s website (the website being a suggestion of my father). And it just so happened that the realtor we contacted lived a couple of miles from where we moving, had sent her children to the preschool where my wife’s mother is the director, was a Christian, and went to the church where a guy I had worked with at my second job was an assistant pastor. Even more, she graciously reduced the percentage of selling income and was zealously helpful and gracious throughout the whole process.
When the week had come to put our house on the market, my wife happened upon a woman who was looking to buy a house in our neighborhood, and she let her know that we were about to put our home on the market in addition to the several that were already up for sale. Two days before our house was to go onto the market, our realtor contacted the woman with whom my wife had spoken, and she found that that woman was about to put an offer on a house in our neighborhood that evening. She withheld her offer to purchase that evening so that she could see our home before she made her final decision. She visited our home the next day and made an offer to us that evening above our asking price! All of this the day before our house was to go on the market!
All this happened in this way, I believe, so that God would receive all the glory for the selling of our home. If we had sold our home the first day we had it on the market, we could have attempted to take some of the glory for ourselves thinking that we had made our home a desirable place to live. But God, by his almighty hand, not only sold our home in a bad market, but he sold our home in a bad market on the day before we going to put it on the market! Praise be to him alone!
There is so much more I can tell of from that point to now—the struggles and the graces with regard to the inspection process, the fixing up (still very much ongoing) of the temporary, livable structure, the selling of my car, the day-to-day provision of our Lord, and on and on,—and thinking upon all of these things and how God has so graciously and abundantly provided is beyond overwhelming. The fact is I am ashamed to think that God has evidently done so much for us in this short period of time that I have even once thought about grumbling and complaining. And yet I have done so frequently from time to time, focusing upon the minute details of every day and not upon the miracles God has brought about through all of this. Yes, there is still much work to be done, and, yes, it is overwhelming, exhausting, and sleep-depriving at points, but by looking at the forest instead of being overwhelmed by the trees, I know without a shadow of a doubt that God will continue to bear us through.
Categories: Unindebtedness Journal