A couple of days ago, my renter moved out of my house.
Well, she sort of moved out. She left behind a couple of recliners inside the house, along with a lot of old laminate flooring and cardboard boxes. There is also a car (which doesn’t run) left in the garage. I’m not sure if she planning to come back for it at some later time, or if she is giving it to me.
Regardless of whether or not she is coming back for these last few items or if I’m going to be left to dispose of the old recliners and the car myself, this is a chapter that is swiftly coming to a close and a new one is about to begin with another renter.
During this time of transition, I’m having to busy myself with taking care of a few repairs on the house. There turned out to be much more repairing than I was aware of, and due to the fact that I live over two hours away makes it difficult to be sure things are getting taken care of in a timely manner.
It’s a stressful situation… and since I was a little girl, the way I normally deal with a rising stress level is to write. Therefore, for today’s stress relief, I’ve decided to write about one of my favorite stories from when I actually lived in that sweet little white house.
I’m going to write about a conversation I had with God.
Perhaps you don’t believe that God actually converses with people. After all, it doesn’t make much sense for the Creator of the Universe, the same One who thought up Saturn and the stately Sequoia tree and the enormous Blue Whale, to care about having a conversation with me. Who am I, among all things created, that God would care to hear my thoughts and respond in a personal way?
All I can say is that He does.
It’s not audible voice booming out of nowhere. (Though one time I did, in fact, think I actually heard God’s voice. You can read that story here.) Rather something more like an insistent whisper in the back of my head, a constant nudging urging me to pause and listen.
And when I do listen to that still, small voice, I know without a doubt I am not just having a conversation with myself.
I know because I would never ever say the things that God says to me!
I’d been single for three years and lived in my “new home” for about a year. While there were many things I loved about my life, I had an negative, unsettled sort of spirit deep down, as if I were just waiting for life to get better instead of enjoying life where I was at currently.
I didn’t like the fact that I lived in one town and worked in another. I felt pulled between the two communities. I struggled to keep good after-school care for my three children. As a former military spouse, I missed my friends who were scattered all over the nation (and world), and felt like my search for more local kindred spirits was hopeless. All in all, I just felt desperately unsettled in my life. And I couldn’t figure out how to shake it.
So one Saturday morning, I complained to God about the unsettled feeling I have about living in my pretty new home. I lay in my bed, relating to the Lord about how I had expected my life to be different than it was, especially once I got situated into the beautiful house He had provided for me and my children. Much like a petulant child, I whined and moaned about my lot, and then demanded to know why God moved me only to let me go through such a lonely season.
The response I got was not what I hoped for or even expected. In fact, God did not seem sympathetic to my plight in the least.
I do not think people who have yet to hang up curtains should complain about feeling unsettled in their new home.
I lay there, quietly for a moment. No doubt about it, this was the voice of God whispering in my head. After all, I would never tell myself that I had no right to complain!
Several more seconds went by as I pondered what God had clearly said. I wasn’t sure I knew exactly what He meant and so I decided to ask for clarification.
“I don’t understand, Lord. What do curtains have to do with me feeling unsettled?”
To my shock, there was a quick and definite reply.
“You’ve lived in your home well over a year now. You haven’t hung up any curtains. Generally, when people plan to stay somewhere, they hang up curtains. Are you planning to stay”
The comment and the question unnerved me. Again, it was not at all what I was expecting to hear. I fumbled around for a moment before muttering, “Well … I’m not planning to go anywhere else.”
“That’s not what I asked. I asked if you were planning to stay.”
Now, I not only felt stunned by this back and forth conversation I was having with God, but I felt utterly rebuked. I decided perhaps it was best at this point just come clean with God.
“Okay, Lord … if you want to know how I really feel, then I will spell it out for you. You moved me to this beautiful house, but my job is 30 miles away. I can’t seem to get a more local job, no matter how hard I try. On top of that, after-school child care for the kids has been sporadic and undependable the entire time I have lived here … AND I don’t have a single real friend who lives close by. I thought you wanted me to live here. I keep pushing on doors, but none of them open. And as a result, I don’t feel settled. I might live here, but it does not really feel like home. This morning I’ve come to You with all these problems that I want You to help me solve and instead You want to talk about the fact that I haven’t hung up curtains. What does that have to do with anything anyway?”
“The truth is, Paige, that all of these details are insignificant to the fact that I asked you to come here and live. So live here, Paige. Make yourself at home. In the meantime, go hang a few curtains.”
For a long while that morning I stayed in bed, pondering curtains and why I hadn’t yet hung any. I had some good excuses. I silently listed each one to see if there was any real value to any of my reasons for the lack of curtains over the windows.
To begin with, I had never hung curtains before and I wasn’t really sure I knew how. I mean, I knew that it couldn’t be that hard, but there was this nagging worry in the back of my head that I might hang them wrong. What if I messed up and didn’t hang them straight? People might come over to my house and laughed at my crooked curtains. How embarrassing!
Secondly, I didn’t even own a drill. How could I hang up curtains without a drill?
And finally, curtains aren’t cheap. What if I bought curtains and then hated the way they looked once I got them hung over the windows? That would be a lot of money down the drain! I certainly didn’t have a lot of money.
Over the course of time, it became easier for me to have bare windows than to risk failure on any of these levels. I suddenly felt ashamed of my curtain-less house, and my unwillingness to try something new out of fear of failure.
But the real break-through happened later that morning when I began to understand that my conversation with God wasn’t really about the lack of curtains over my windows. It was more about me actively choosing to live my life right where God has me today, instead of simply choosing to bide my time as I waited for my circumstances to change.
As a Christian, I know two things:
(1) God has not promised us a life without problems and troubles. Jesus told His followers, “You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
If I am waiting for my life to become perfect before I actually live, I will be waiting for a long, long time. In the meantime, life will pass me by, as none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.
Which brings me to the second thing I know.
(2) This world is not my home. My final destination is heaven.
But our citizenship is in heaven. ~Philippians 3:20
Further more, my days on earth are numbered, as the span of my life was determined long before I ever was born.
A man’s days are numbered. You know the number of his months. He cannot live longer than the time You have set. ~Job 14:5
All my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. ~Psalm 139:16
While I long for heaven and the perfect life that is to come in eternity with my Saviour, I can’t just sit around waiting for God to take me home to live with Him in paradise. In fact, Jesus warned His followers about that very thing in the parable about the talents, which is found in Matthew 25. When Christ comes back, He wants to find that we have been busy working for His kingdom, instead of just sitting around waiting His return.
By the way, that Saturday morning conversation five years ago did, in fact, end with me hanging a few curtains. Almost instantly I felt better about my home, more settled because in my heart I was determined to actually live where God had placed me, and not just stay still while I hoped for my circumstances to change.
And in the process, I learned an important lesson about intentionally living my life instead of waiting around for something better.
Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. ~Colossians 1:10