This is a house of miracles.
Truly! With each day that passes, we become more amazed by what God has done! Last month marked the one year anniversary of the day we closed on our house. The story of how we got here is incredible, full of twists and turns (some of them deeply touching and many of them kind of horrifying). It’s definitely the stuff of which books are written. I will save the whole story for another time and day…and as I keep saying…probably a whole book. However, God’s hand has guided, guarded, and girded us the whole way.
Let me count a few of the ways.
God opened wide the door for us to buy this house, partly because of the wind of His Spirit blowing in our sails, and partly because of evil forces which helped the process along. How can I say that? Would God and Satan ever really work to accomplish the same task? Yes. Why? Because with one task, they had different goals in mind.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” (Genesis 50:20)
There were some folks in our life with a hidden agenda and a serious conflict of interest. They helped the home-buying process along in a big way, especially the one who walked out of our lives with a sizable commission check. Why? In the words of the one with the $30,000 payout, “I wanted it to hurt.” What could that possibly mean?
It means he knew good and well he was working to unseat us from the position we accepted in good faith when we agreed to move to this community only months before. It means he anticipated that as soon as extensive plotting and scheming had run its course, we would be expected to quietly put our house back on the market immediately after purchasing it to the tune of an approximate $100,000 loss. It was action that seems to have been born of extreme selfishness, jealousy, and unabashed hatred designed to destroy not only our credibility but the provision God had already miraculously granted in a marvelous backstory. It was accompanied by threatening words and actions, including the placement of a voodoo doll nailed to the second story beam of our house positioned to look directly into the eyes of anyone seated on its primary “throne”—a very specific place, by the way, of which very few could have known.
At the time we laughed it off on social media as a joke from the previous owner. We now know this was not the case. It was only one of countless intentionally evil acts committed by some of the people we moved here to serve. But God! What was intended for harm, God meant for good! God’s word to us says this:
"Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.” (Psalm 37:1-9)
For this past year we have called this abode our house of miracles because God’s ways are higher! We do not fret because we know God didn’t prompt us to buy it to bring us harm. Rather, He intended to provide a place for us to dwell and enjoy safe pasture while we poured every distress and sorrow before the feet of Jesus, let him minister to us in ways only He can, and allowed Him to lead this process of rest, recovery, and rebuilding.
God used the house to keep us here because an inheritance awaits. I don’t actually think this house of miracles is the inheritance. It’s a tent for the journey (Hebrews 11:9) as we sojourn to “a better country—a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16), and like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I assure you that we, indeed, often feel like strangers in a strange land (Hebrews 11:9). Interestingly, our house of miracles looks out over a mountain, ridge, and valley through which actual Oregon Trail pioneers traversed.
Even now when I lift my eyes from the laptop upon which I write, I gaze across a significant stretch of the Barlow Road, an alternative transport route which, beginning in 1846, allowed pioneers to circumvent the difficult, dangerous, and expensive-to-safely-use Columbia River.
A thick forest still spreads its roots beneath the ground over which wearied but hopeful pioneers progressed toward their own kind of Promised Land or “inheritance.”
What a powerful reminder that settling here forever isn’t an option for us, either, even if this is a house of miracles! This house is a tool as we do the pioneering work God has called us to do. More on that later…[wink!]
Yet, God has used this house of miracles to grant some of the desires of our hearts—in many ways, desires we didn’t even know we had—and to spread a lavish table before us in the presence of our enemies (Psalm 23:5).
Oh, how they gloat! (Psalm 35:19) Oh, how they sneer! (Psalm 35:21) Oh, how they hate and wink and devise and accuse! (Psalm 35:19-20) Even those we once considered close and trusted mock us with a sarcastic version of “God will fight your battles.”
Yes, yes He will, even if there are those who await our destruction.
We remain because the Lord daily reminds us that He delights in the well-being of His servants (Psalm 35:27).
“The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.” (Psalm 37:40)
It is here we wake each day to a glorious reminder of His faithfulness, a brilliant sunrise visible from our pillows.
It is here He reminds us of the vastness of His creative power as we scan the view from our perch over both a wide valley and a deep ravine.
It is here we marvel at the birds soaring and swooping and racing across it all and remember that we, too, can do this over our circumstances on the wind of His Spirit.
Here we are reminded of the flourishing he brings by the water of His Word when we see plants take root and thrive, growing in beauty each day despite our own limited gardening abilities. It is not we who make them grow, but He. He brings increase to our spirits and godly endeavors, including another kind of “plant” to which He calls us.
And when the wind blows across the valley and causes our garden to shudder and tremble, we see that it does not blow away. It remains, just as
“the Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24)
It is here we witness the seemingly endless winter rain and remember that
"Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.” (Hebrews 6:7)
When the rain beats on the roof and drenches everything in sight, we remember that our lives will produce an abundant fruitful harvest if we will not resist the rain of His presence but receive it with joy.
And it is here He has filled our lives with a wondrous awareness of His presence like nothing we have ever known before.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
Here we learned to “bury our face in the carpet.” [Read: pray like never before!]
When icy, demonic fingers seemed to wrap themselves around our minds, causing us to sense a kind of doom that is totally irreconcilable with the promises God makes in His Word, we learned to not only to use Jesus’ authority to send them away, but to send them back to where they came from.
Our first month here was marked by a time of fasting and prayer longer and more significant than anything we've ever experienced and which we know has marked our lives forever.
When some of our greatest encouragers went MIA, embarrassed by our unwitting exposure of corruption, God called forth heroic prayer warriors—mostly people who’ve never graced a pulpit (though perhaps these wise men and women of God should). They stood in the gap for us with appeals to heaven and gracious words of encouragement. God loved us so much he spoke to them on our behalf through scripture, dreams, nagging thoughts, and burdens deep down in the soul to confirm all the things He was speaking to us. In this way, He provided both road signs to help reassure we were still on the right path and comfort knowing we were seen and not alone.
Of course, we couldn’t call this a house of miracles if it weren’t actually a place where God has done miracles. He has. The fact, alone, that we are still here is a miracle. Having just paid our first mortgage payment, it was here that God spoke to our hearts—miraculously at the exact same time though we were in different places on the property and totally unaware of the conversations we were separately having with God—to release us from the nightmare.
It was here that in a moment He lifted a burden so ugly and weighty we had felt like we would break. We know that with His help we wouldn’t have if He didn’t release us, but he lifted it and released us nonetheless. Someday I’ll tell that story in greater detail—it’s a fantastic one—but for the purposes of my point today I will tell you this:
It was one of the most euphoric moments of our lives when God released us from an especially tough assignment.
It was followed by a simultaneous (for us) realization that He was not releasing us from the house we had just purchased.
That was followed by an immediate and intense realization that if God wanted us to be here, He would have to provide for it because we no longer had an income. No severance. No unemployment. No income. And very few local friends with whom we were allowed to speak. (More on that later too.)
We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was going to stretch our faith for the provision of mortgage payments and utility bills so that He could eventually stretch our faith for much bigger needs associated with much bigger assignments.
Has He done it? Has He really provided all this time? So far, yes! And we know He always will!
God is faithful.
He is the One who says,
“I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” (Isaiah 45:3)
He has pulled resources from places we never could have expected, and we believe this is so that someday He can give us far more valuable treasure stored in secret places—the treasure of souls who need Jesus in places many don't think to look!
We have work yet to do! So the God who knows the needs of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field (Matthew 6:25-34) knows our needs and has taken care of us too. Truly,
“I was young and now I am getting old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.” (Psalm 37:25-26)
When everything first happened and we realized there would be no provision of resource for us from either former employer or state, God asked my husband a poignant question: “Do you want their money or mine?” We’ll take His provision (and all the miracles too) any day, just as any giant would!
1. ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word; Just to rest upon His promise; Just to know, Thus saith the Lord. Chorus: Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him, How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er. Jesus, Jesus, Precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more. 2. O how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood; Just in simple faith to plunge me, ’Neath the healing, cleansing flood. 3. Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to cease; Just from Jesus simply taking Life, and rest, and joy, and peace. 4. I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend; And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end. (Louisa M. R. Stead)
To God be the glory!