The for sale sign hadn’t been in the yard more than ten minutes before the first call came in from a frantic neighbor.
“Amelia! I… I just saw the sign in your yard. You’re moving?! To where?”
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t realize the realtor was putting the sign in the yard today, or I would’ve called you first,” I replied.
We were on the verge of making a major life transition, one that had taken two years of praying and discussing as a family. How do you sum that up in a two-minute phone call?
Two years prior to the staking of the for sale sign, my husband had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 36. As we walked through his diagnosis, surgery, and recovery, we had new awareness for just how short life can be.
In the months following his recovery and cancer “all clear,” God began speaking to us about the way we were living.
We were following a typical American path – two kids, two cars not entirely paid for, bigger house than we needed in a great neighborhood, and a mortgage we could afford but didn’t leave much room for generosity or spontaneity.
We I began to evaluate what the point of it all was. What if God was calling us to something different? Something simpler?
After praying, talking for months, and conducting countless hours of real estate searches online, we made the leap.
We believed this was an act of obedience. Sell the house. Find something smaller and less expensive that we could pay off in a decade. Live in a way that would free up our hours and money to live more generously.
It all sounded good on paper. Then the questions started coming.
“Where are you moving to? Have you found another house? Your moving into something smaller with your kids about to become teenagers? You don’t know where you’re moving next?”
We had this idea of where God was taking us, but we didn’t have the specifics. The planner in me wished God would write out all the details. But instead He says, “Come follow me.”
Throughout Scripture He called people to live differently than the world around them. He asked Abraham to leave behind his homeland to a place God would show him.
Abraham obeyed, and God led the way, with Abraham trusting God to keep His promises.
Our house sold, but then there wasn’t a place to buy. We searched and walked through every house that was on the market in our desired price range – all three of them. None of them were right. As the deadline approached for our closing, my prayers became more desperate.
Do you trust Me?
“Yes, God, I trust you. I just wish I had a glimpse of what you were doing.”
The pressure mounted. People all but said we were crazy and irresponsible. Selling your house without having a place to land? Who does that?
One week before we closed on the sale of our home, one place came available for rent. Just one.
I walked through the house, called my husband, and he told me to sign the lease application, even though he hadn’t seen the place.
At least now we’d have six months to figure out the next step. We sold nearly all our furniture, donated carloads of stuff, and moved from our 2,048 square foot home into a two bedroom, 900 square foot home, our tween son and daughter sharing a bedroom.
I remembered how God called Abraham’s descendants out of slavery in Egypt and offered them the promised land he had shown Abraham. Before they got very far out of Egypt, they started to complain and thought that Egypt hadn’t really been all that bad. They didn’t trust God to take them safely through the desert to the promised land.
As a result of their grumbling disobedience, they wandered for forty years. I really didn’t want to wander for forty years, or even six months.
Every time the stove in the apartment didn’t work right, or the kids bickered over the one bathroom, or I tripped over a box, I repeated over and over, “I trust You. I trust You.”
As the six-month lease approached the end, we still couldn’t find a new home to buy, or any other place to rent. Where the year prior the market had plenty of houses in the price range and location we were looking at, there were exactly zero houses for sale.
“God, I thought we were following You. Did we not hear You correctly?”
Weeks before our lease was up, the landlord called to see if we had found a place to buy because they were getting ready to sell the 2-unit rental home we were living in.
It was all I could do not to laugh. Of course they were selling the house.
“No, we haven’t found another place,” I told the landlord. “There’s not anything for sale right now. It’s a hard market for buyers, with most houses selling before they even are listed. But hey, it should be great for you to sell your rental!” I said.
“What exactly are you looking for in a home?” she asked.
I listed out exactly what we believed God had called us to buy with all the details. “Three bedrooms, one and a half baths, somewhere in this neighborhood, small yard, something that needs some cosmetic fixing-up.”
“What’s your price range?” she asked.
After I replied she said, “You know, we own the house next door to where you’re renting. I think it’s exactly what you’re looking for, and we need to sell it too. If you’re willing to do the work of fixing it up, I think we can even meet your price. Do you want to walk through it tomorrow?”
For six months, I had stared out the window at the cute little house next door. Usually my mind was occupied in prayer telling God over and over that I trusted Him to provide.
Little did I realize that I was staring at His provision every time I prayed.
Days before we moved in, I stared out the window again, now realizing I was looking at our new home.
See, the answer was right in front of you the whole time. It just wasn’t time to let you know yet.
Now, every time I sit in my kitchen and read my Bible, I look out the window at the rental God provided for six months. Gratitude overwhelms me, and I realize His answers to prayer, His reward for obedience – while never “easy” – is so much better than I ever could plan or imagine on my own.
“I trust You, God,” my heart whispers. “Always.”
Amelia Rhodes lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. As a recovering perfectionist who has been freed, by God’s grace, from the grip of perpetual anxiety, Amelia encourages women to discover who they are in Christ and to deepen their relationships with each other. Her latest book is Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community. Learn more about Amelia and her writing at www.ameliarhodes.com.