Eleven Months

Eleven months ago, Emily and I were in North Bay, Ontario, for a family vacation. She was reading Luke’s gospel. I was reading Luke and Radical by David Platt. As we both read, we individually felt challenged when we came to (both in our Bibles and in Radical conveniently) Luke 12:35-40, particularly when Jesus says, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.”

Were we “dressed for action”? Were we prepared for the Lord to come? Our answer was no.

We both felt hindered in our service to Him; like there was something holding us back from being able to do all we intended. Then we started talking and realized our concerns were all pointing in the same direction:

We needed to sell our house. We prayed, sought counsel from our pastors, elders and trusted friends.We looked over our finances again and again to make sure we weren’t on crazy pills… We definitely needed to sell the house in order to be ready to serve. So, from the beginning of September through the middle of December we did all we could to make the house ready. We moved all our excess stuff out of the house (including nearly all my books). We repainted the trim, the porch, finished a bunch of the “we’ll get to it eventually” work… and made the place look pretty darn snazzy. Then we put the first of what would eventually be three different kinds of “for sale” signs, placed ads online and got the ball rolling. And on Tuesday night at 8:53 pm, the paperwork was signed and our house was officially sold.

When all’s said and done, eleven months had passed from the time we began to pray and seek counsel to signing the papers. Eleven months.

Now, I know that a lot of folks talk about “open doors” and such things. If God wants you to do something, He’ll open a door and make it happen. Here’s what we’ve learned through this: Sometimes. Other times, He has a number of things to teach you first. Here’s what He’s been teaching us:

1. Perseverance. It took a lot of prayer, a lot of work, a lot of tears, and a lot of frustration to get the house sold. We tried to sell it on our own for seven months before signing with an agent. Seven months. Most people last two months, tops before they tap out. We saw it almost sell twice in that time and the deals fell through each time.

2. There’s a fine line between perseverance and foolishness. At some point, you have to admit that you need help. It took us seven months to get there. Like I said, most people last two before they get an agent. Eventually we had to say “we need help.” And God provided the right agent at the right time. And He brought a buyer two weeks after that.

3. Idols have to die. Home ownership is a high value in my wife’s family; God has been killing that in her over the last several months. Since she finally let it go, I’ve never seen her happier. But that’s all I will say about that. It’s her story to tell (and I hope she will some day).

4. I don’t trust God nearly enough. I’ve been frustrated, stressed out and kind of irritable for a good long while now and it all came to a head on Tuesday morning. I got home from Guelph (where Emily and the girls were staying so the agent could show the house without difficulty), I saw the message on the machine that we’d received an offer on Sunday. Now, I wasn’t sure if it still existed at that point; and although I had called and left a message with the agent, I freaked out a little bit. After Emily told me I needed to chill during our phone chat, I finally remembered Phil. 4:6-7. I begged God to give me His peace over this, whether the deal was still on the table or not. And He was faithful to answer.

5. The prayers of others really, really matter. We’ve had literally hundreds of people praying over this home sale for months. Brothers and sisters, He has answered your prayers. Thank you for persevering with us. Thank you for praying with us.

So now we’re ready for action. The question now is, what’s He going to ask us to do?

  • http://mrben.jedimoose.org/ mrben

    I’ve only been visiting here for a couple of months now, so I can’t really say that I’ve been with you in the process. We sold our house (and bought a new one) at the end of last year and, as you’ve stated, even when you’re sure that it’s a “God thing” it’s still really difficult to remain positive and faithful when the going gets tough. 

    Congratulations!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4QMUQWAZLLY4IXV7UKUW42HTSQ jeanelane

    I think I know what you mean about wanting to be ready for action.  I, too, would be like to be ready to take off at a moments notice.  Pack the clothing and toiletries and gone.  For me, this means to get my heart disentangled from all the stuff.  God got me out of the entanglement with ‘my’ house and property.  I have to now guard my heart from being too entwined in the new place.  Now all the sentimental junk that is cluttering the new house and same heart needs to be removed.  I’m working on it.  Much, much less sentiment than there was 3 years ago when I started this journey.  I was never fast at organizing (or dis-organizing).  It will come.  At least the roots of my heart into the stuff are much shallower.  And I hope deeper into the Lord.

  • Amber

    Hey, there’s a good blog topic for you, re: open doors. Much of the advice you receive from fellow Christians about knowing or following God’s will or His answers to prayer is experiential or circumstantial, such as an open door or a feeling. How much of this is grounded in Scripture, and what can we know for certain from Scripture?

  • http://honeyandlocusts.wordpress.com/ John Gardner

    Congratulations, and thanks! This post was very encouraging, as my wife and I are in the midst of a very similar story. God convicted us both earlier this year to get our house ready to sell so that we would be free to follow wherever He might lead us. The work is nearly finished, and we hope to have the house on the market in another month or so. I pray that when our story is said and done, we’ll have learned as much as you and Emily have!

  • Doc B

    “The question now is, what’s He going to ask us to do?”

    …buy a house and settle into a neighborhood where you can minister to lost people.

    ;-)

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Definitely go to a neighborhood where we can minister to lost people, not too sure about the buying a new house, though :)

    • Emily Armstrong

      That’s every neighborhood. No buying!

  • Emily Armstrong

    I feel it important to mention that, like many idols, the idol of home ownership is a bit of a zombie-idol. I think it’s dead and then the body starts to twitch, so I have to stomp on it some more. I pray that someday soon it stays dead.

  • http://www.chrisfromcanada.com Chris

    God told me he wants you to move to Orangeville.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      That’d be almost like a homecoming; I was born there :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593265604 Emily Armstrong

      I think we’ll need some additional confirmation on that ;)

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