Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Long Journey into a House

This post is a little different. It's partly an explanation, partly a testimony, partly a devotional, and partly a political commentary. This is more personal than theological. My schedule is finally getting back to normal again, so more of the usual style posts will be coming along very soon. Thanks for your patience.

It's been quiet on this blog for the last couple of weeks, and here's why: my family has successfully purchased and moved into our first house. We wanted to do this about 5 years ago, when we lived in Kentucky, but that was at the start of the infamous "housing bubble." Home prices were skyrocketing. Then I injured my back, found myself out of work for 10 months, and ended up moving to Florida. Here, home prices were even higher. So we waited, chose (with some struggle) to be content, and found cheap rents.

This year, everything finally fell into place. I have a stable job, the bubble has exploded, home prices are at rock bottom, and the U.S. government is paying people to buy houses. While I don't agree with government intrustion in the marketplace, and I'm both horrified and disturbed by president Obama's dangerous, socialistic policies, I do think it's high time the U.S. government thieves gave something back to the common people. It would have been better if they hadn't robbed us blind in the first place, but giving some money back is a good way to start making amends. If you can't already tell, I'm firmly against the estimated 50+ percent [!!!] tax rate we pay in America. It's time for a new American Revolution, where we reclaim government OF the people, BY the people, and FOR the people, rather than continuing to be ruled by a bourgeois monarchy of self-servers who are busily stuffing their pockets (and their friends' pockets) with resources that would do more good in the marketplace. I guess I'm a revolutionary at heart. But I digress . . . and this is probably the last word about politics you'll see on this blog for a long, long time. (Vote for Mike Huckabee in 2012).

Back to the house story . . . my family started looking in early February. We became well acquainted with the lowest priced 3+ bedroom houses on the market, and after looking at lots of foreclosures that should have been torn down long ago, we found a spacious house that suited us perfectly. Although it had been vacant for over a year, it was clean and dry. Some cosmetic work was needed, but there were no apparent structural issues. We would have to purchase kitchen appliances and an air conditioning system, but the price was low enough to make all of that feasible, and the bank that owned the house dropped $20,000 from the price in negotiations. We were ecstatic. We were getting a good deal. The best part was, the house was situated on a beautiful piece of property out in the country. One-acre lot, gently sloping, with wooded areas, fenced-off sections for goats, plenty of room for a garden, chickens, etc. (yes, I did say goats). It was a home-schooler's dream!

By mid-March, we had a contract and a closing date. We poured money into inspections, appraisals, surveys, water tests, appliance purchases, etc. (I even bought a door mat) - all in the sure knowledge that this would soon be our place of residence. Everything went smoothly until the day before closing. That's when the unpermitted addition was discovered. That's when the FHA financing came back to bite us. That's when we found out it was going to cost us over $15,000 to bring the addition up to local codes, per FHA rules. That's when we found out the bank selling the home wasn't willing to do ANYTHING to fix the problem (it was HSBC Bank, by the way, and I'll think twice before I ever do business with them again). The bank refused to extend our contract or negotiate the added expenses. They would not put a penny toward it. Since we stood to lose everything we had invested on the botched deal, we went to outrageous lengths to try to make it work. Eventually, we found a contractor who could do the necessary repairs at a reasonable cost and resubmitted an offer to buy the house, with the bank assuming no additional risk or cost. However, a rival buyer had now entered the picture. The rival was using the same financing, offering less money, wanted more time to close, and had more contingencies in the contract. His offer was accepted, ours was rejected, and by the end of May we knew the deal could not be saved. So we started the buying process all over again.

In the meantime, my family had begun reading through the book of James together. And in the middle of the attempted home purchase we were collectively struck by these verses:

James 4:13-16 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

We made it a point to pray throughout the process, "Lord, if it is Your will, we will move into this house." So, when the deal slipped away, we concluded that it was not God's will. In all of this, my family saw a powerful object lesson about God's sovereignty, and we were humbled by it. We were crushed, but blessedly crushed, because we saw His hand in it.

That's only the first half of the story. Although God never has to explain Himself to us, it's always comforting when we find out why He closes a door.

After more searching, we found a comparably priced house, and this one was not a foreclosure. It was significantly larger, with more bedrooms, and much closer to where I work. There were fewer repairs needed, and the seller made several of them before closing. The house is on a 1/3 acre lot, situated on a private lake, with a nice view and plenty of trees for shade.There's no room for goats, but the previous owner left us a nice chicken coop. The funny part is, we only moved 1.2 miles away from our prior residence. That's right, it took us 6 months to move one mile! It's a much better house than I ever expected, and certainly more than I deserve. I don't deserve to live in a cardboard box! I deserve outer darkness. So, my new house is a gigantic testimony to God's grace.

The front of the house is partly made of stone, which reminds me of these words:

Mark 13:1-2 As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"
“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Just as God's beautiful temple was cast down to the ground, so shall my house (should it last long enough) be dashed to bits before His glorious majesty! In that day, I shall literally live in Him, and He in me, in the majestically glorious Kingdom of His eternal grace and truth!

Hebrews 13:14-16 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

I thank God for the gracious, yet temporary, gift of a house to live in. I thank Him even more for the amazing gift of Himself, as the true eternal home of all who trust in Him.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Sure, the road's rough, but look where it's leading . . .
When we melt into the far horizon, then we shall know
the struggles weren't worth comparing
to the eternal weight of glory that will follow


  1. God is so good. Congrats on the house! You have been missed brother!

  2. Rob,

    Thanks, brother. I'm always encouraged when I stop by your blog.


  3. Derek,

    While you have been away it cannot have escaped your notice that Barry and I have been carrying the load for you.

    I can't speak for Barry, but I'm glad you're back because I need the rest.

    It's good to see the hand of God providing for you in just that characteristic way He deals with us - where our expectations are shaken, reordered and served up in God's time and in His way. Love it!

    Welcome back.



  4. Congratulations on the house, Derek!

    I'm glad you're back, too. I miss reading your posts. I also have to agree with Tony. He and I posted AT LEAST as much as you did while you were absent, and I'm thankful we can now resume our normal posting schedule.

  5. It's great the way you guys show your solidarity.


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