A Change of Heart

The stories I share aren’t usually as personal as this one, but I’m not sure why. God’s greatest miracles aren’t usually things that happen to us; they are how He works in us, changing our hearts.

Last year about this time, I began to struggle with discontentment. It all started when a house down the road from us became available. We went and looked around with the owner one afternoon. As the tour progressed, my eyes grew wider and wider.

This house was nice. Really nice. It had not one, but two bathtubs. I would no longer have to wait for furlough to take a nice long bath. Not to mention how much Claire would enjoy bathtime; four year-olds are not fans of showers. The home also boasted a hot water heater! I immediately began to dream of washing the dishes with hot water once again. The living spaces were air-conditioned. I thought of our own kitchen, dining room and living room, and how hot they get, especially when we have company over (See, I was thinking of others!). The house was newer and prettier—I loved the colors she had chosen and the beautiful tile floors. There were real glass windows instead of the louvered kind we had. The yard was fully enclosed by a giant security wall with electric current running across the top. Wow, we certainly wouldn’t have to worry about break-ins! I thought of our chain-link fence running down one side of our current property and how insecure I felt sometimes. This would be great! Claire could play in the yard without me watching her like a hawk!

“Well, this house is beautiful, but I’m sure the rent's out of our price range,” Robbie told the owner. “We can’t pay more than $*** per month, and we have a really good deal where we are.”

“Oh, I would let you have it for that!” she agreed. “We can go to a lawyer and work on the paperwork.”

We were speechless. This is amazing! Thank you, Lord!

I was already redecorating in my mind. I measured my curtains, deciding which ones to use in the new, larger rooms. We could move the air conditioners that we had purchased for our bedrooms to the new house; since she had already installed AC in all bedrooms and the living room, I could put one of ours in the kitchen! I could cook without sweating like I’d run a marathon! I was absolutely giddy with excitement.

I never saw it coming. Had I been paying better attention to my husband’s face, I might have been forewarned. We prayed about it that night, emailed my parents to ask them to pray, and went to bed. The next morning, he told me: “Chris, I don’t have peace about taking that house.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” The Lord had given us that house! I was sure of it! How could I live here with no hot water, cooking in a kitchen with broken tile and no AC, being embarrassed of toilets with hard water stains (Will our company think I don’t clean them?), when such a beautiful, secure house was right down the street. And the rent was less than we had paid for our first little apartment in the States!

“I think the house is just…too nice. Can you picture the poor people from our church being comfortable there?”

"But, but…there are also people in our church who live in houses just like that! And we’re American! They expect us to live like that.”

“I just don’t have peace about it.”

And that was the end of it. Just like that, the dream died. Lord, please don’t let me become discontent over this. I had been perfectly happy in our current home for five years. But now I sat down and stared our cracked bedroom wall with its peeling paint. Why would He let a beautiful home become available, dangle it in front of me, only to snatch it away? I could not understand.

Furthermore, why were we in our thirties now with no home of our own? Other missionaries we knew had purchased homes by getting loans from churches or family members. We had been frugal with our money and saved enough for a down payment, but we simply couldn’t finance a home with the outrageous interest rates here. It wouldn’t be wise. So we saved and prayed. I often thought of just purchasing some lot out in the country back in the States and hanging on to it for an investment. At least then we’d have something in our name. That’s what you are supposed to have by our age.

My thinking was being controlled by a list of rules in my mind. Rules about what it meant to “be a good steward.” Doesn’t that sound biblical? We should have a certain percent of our income in savings, set aside a certain percent for retirement, and we should own property. Those are the rules. Robbie and I are both tightwads when it comes to spending and had worked hard to save for the future; but somehow, we’d never had the opportunity to purchase a home. What were we doing wrong?

Over the next few months, the Lord began working in my heart; He started by throwing my “Rulebook of Good Stewardship” out the window. What if He was calling our family not to own a home? What if we don’t live in the best house we can afford? Is it the right decision just because we can afford it? What does He want to do with our money? Somehow, I’d always believed that if a good thing became available and the Lord provided the funds, He wanted us to have it. Was there more to it than that?

I’ve been broken to realize how materialistic my thinking was. What a horribly limited, genie-in-a-bottle role I’d assigned to my Heavenly Father! How could I demand these “essentials” from the One who didn’t have a place to lay His head on this earth? I was the exact opposite of Christ-like.

Little by little, He’s opened my eyes to a more eternal perspective. This is not it. I know that. But I’ve not lived like it. Who cares if I never get my dream house here on earth? So what if I’m not comfortable? What if I’m not supposed to be?

With His Word, He’s been cutting right through the lies I’ve believed one at a time. And He’s still working. It’s a painful process, but I’m seeing some things clearly for the first time and I can’t wait to discover more. I'm not "there" yet; I'm still working on this area daily, praying for victory. But the joy and freedom He is giving me through this process is indescribable. I don’t know what He has in store for our family, but I don’t ever want to limit Him again.

Note: Aside from the Bible, which has transformed my thinking more than anything, the Lord has also used two books in particular over the past 9 months to work in my heart and help me gain a more eternal perspective: Heaven by Randy Alcorn and Radical by David Platt. I highly recommend both (to read and reread!).
3 Responses
  1. Elizabeth Says:

    Thanks for sharing, Christine. I just finished Heaven...what a great read. Radical is already on my list and I've heard good things about it from several people.

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