THE HOUSE TESTIMONY PART 1: The Financials
I didn’t let people in on how bad it really was. A year ago I was living in a smoke-filled apartment and sleeping in my car more nights than in my bed – if I was sleeping at all. Now I’m a homeowner breathing in that new-house smell, sleeping in the most peaceful bedroom I could imagine. Look what a difference a year can make.
Let me back up to exactly a year ago: December 2019.
It had been about two months at this point… My apartment would fill with cigarette smoke every morning and evening, courtesy of a few inconsiderate neighbors smoking inside their unit. On top of being fuming mad and spending hours a day airing out the place and scrubbing it from top to bottom, I was actually physically sick.
After an urgent care visit, and with a sinus infection and bronchitis, I checked myself into a hotel two miles from my front door to get a reprieve from the smoke and get a few nights of good sleep.
I had been around the world multiple times with my apartment manager. Smoking inside was a lease violation, of course. And my lease had more than enough protection for me written in. But we all know how that goes when we’re in the thick of it. We knew who the culprit was. But management would neither evict them for smoking inside, nor let me out of my lease without the extensive fees.
Short of hiring an attorney, I had already done everything in the natural to fight this, so my main motivation while staying in a hotel was not just physical recovery, but a time to mentally separate from the battle, pray into the situation, and ask God how He wanted me to fight in the spiritual realm.
I kept hearing Him say, “Take care of my house and I’ll take care of yours.”
Friends, sometimes God is just waiting for our willingness to step into something bigger before He opens a door we didn’t even know has been right in front of us all along. And sometimes because He is so good, He will actually let a situation get so bad that we start to desire the something more He has for us.
At this same time, my church family was in the process of renovating an old warehouse of sorts to be our new church building. I instinctively thought God wanted me to sow into our building fund again. However, I really did not want to approach it with the wrong attitude or try to manipulate the situation for my gain. God isn’t my genie; He’s my Lord. Giving to my church wouldn’t be a bad thing, but I needed to make sure my motives were pure. I wanted confirmation that this was the spiritual act of faith God was asking me to participate in as I surrendered to His deliverance.
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.malachi 3:10
I was set to help with Christmas decor at the church, mostly with people I hadn’t met yet, so I asked God to send someone that evening to tell me a giving testimony or bring up the building fund in some way as a confirmation that I was to sow a certain dollar amount toward it.
None of us actually knew what the plan was for that night. I thought it was Christmas Eve service decor prep – decorating trees, and such. Someone else brought a laptop ready to plan and take notes. But sitting in our youth pastors’ house, our team lead walked in with boxes of ribbon to tie onto chair-shaped ornaments to pass out at church. (We thought they were mangers at first. Oops.) She started talking about a church family member’s testimony and the upcoming correlating message we would hear encouraging our community to see each chair as a person who would hear the gospel because of the seeds we sow into the new building.
He didn’t just send me one quick conversation. The whole night was focused on building God’s house.
I don’t know if anyone noticed me fighting back tears all night. Stringing ribbon onto little wooden chair ornaments, praying for each person those chairs represented, somehow I knew God was about to do something way bigger than I expected.
The following day, still in my hotel room, I strung some more ornaments together and emptied my checking account into the building fund. It wasn’t much. It wasn’t nearly what I wish I would have been able to give. But it was all I had at the time. Unable to live in my own home, holding these symbols and pouring into our new church home, it was one of the most sacred moments of my life between me and the Lord.
When I heard, “Take care of my house and I’ll take care of yours,” all I was really hoping for were new, non-smoking neighbors. I was content living in my little Franklin apartment. But like I said, God wants our willingness to step into His bigger plans for us when we’re thinking too small.
When we sow seeds, we always reap a harvest. Sometimes it’s a quick turnaround. Other times, we have to wait months, years, decades to see the fruit. Mine was a hurry-up-and-wait situation. I saw a “suddenly,” then I sat on God’s word for eight months while He built my promise.
About a week after my building fund offering, God told me I was going to be buying a house in 2020. I sowed my seed in faith, but my faith was still so small. I laughed in such a way that I’m shocked God didn’t ask me to name my house “Issac.” I’ve always had more than enough, but I didn’t have enough for a downpayment on a house. And now I had even less. That’s why I HAD to entrust it all to God. With nothing left, He could take over. God can do everything with our nothing.
After the New Year, I met up with a couple real estate friends to discuss where I should start and also to get connected with a lender, because, “I think God wants me to buy a house this year, and I know nothing of the process.”
Within 12 days of meeting with them, I was pre-approved for a loan, paid a deposit on a lot for a house yet to be built, and under contract. This was exactly one month after God told this hopeless, sick, weary girl she would be buying a house. CAN I GET A, “YESSSSS, JESUS!?!”
Honestly, though, I paid nothing. My parents were beyond eager to help and generously gave, reminding me that so is our Heavenly Father, if we would JUST ASK. Then God pulled off some other crazy miracles. First, the price tag on this brand new house – in the location it’s in – was just bonkers. I still can’t wrap my head around it. (My choices in East Nashville were basically: a brand new house in my price range, or a falling apart, half-the-size house asking for $100,000 more. Hi. Duh.) Then, when my overtime dried up after four years of consistency, He sent checks in the mail, a no-strings-attached government grant (WHAT!?!) and a preferred-lender credit from the builder toward closing costs. And I can’t forget the 2.875% interest rate I snagged, because COVID. God turned my little seed of faith into everything I needed to transition into His promised land. I literally didn’t pay a penny out of my pocket toward the downpayment or closing costs. God covered it all. Every time I sowed another seed into His plans, He replenished and multiplied the funds like I’ve never seen before. He REALLY wanted this house, guys.
Now, like I said, this whole scenario was “hurry up and wait.” The financing came together quickly because it had to. To get THIS house, I had to place a deposit the same day I visited the lot. There was little time to think things over. God made it ridiculously obvious that this was Him moving, so I could take a massive, scary leap super fast.
Often though, (basically always) when God gives us a promise, He sends us directly back to where we were. We hold that promise for a while in our same mundane, frustrating, too-small life before it comes to fruition. And in the waiting that followed, the smoke didn’t leave my apartment. Instead of just my downstairs neighbors smoking, it was also next door, behind me, and the guy across the hall liked to smoke right outside my front door. I was literally surrounded on all sides.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll talk more about this next week, because how we honor others and how we carry ourselves leading up to seasons of promotion matter more to God than the money.
It’s easy to look at the material aspect of this all, but God’s favor wasn’t just the house. It was getting me out of my small-mindedness. It was me being obedient to get on board with His plans in and through me.
My new house isn’t my house at all. It’s just the newest thing God’s given me to steward. Everything He blesses us with is for the benefit of others, not just ourselves. This house is a place for His people to gather, grow, worship, and encounter His presence. It’s God’s house. He paid for it. It’s all His.
I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a seat of honor for the house of his father.Isaiah 22:22-23