I am writing this blog sitting in our lovely new house we bought a few weeks ago. It is a wonderful property which suits my family’s needs perfectly. However, on the day of the move I wasn’t sure if it was going happen at all. Here is my story what happened and how our family had to trust in character of God when the situation around us didn’t look very encouraging towards our situation.
We loved our old house. We had been there nine years. We had fantastic neighbours, it was very handy for the local shops and for getting to work and the childrens’ school. The rooms were all well proportioned and gardens were enjoyable. But then life happened. A health challenge came into our family. Our house, which for many years was perfect for us, started to become a problem. The stairs became a serious problem for someone whose mobility had deteriorated. We had to move into a home which was all on the same level. The house hunting had begun…
Within a couple of weeks, we found a great house. A fairly modern bungalow, attached to a larger Victorian house within a fairly smart area of Paisley. Most importantly, all the rooms were on the one level. There weren’t many bungalows in the Greater Glasgow area which could house our family on a budget we could afford. To find another similar property could prove very challenging. It was perfect to help meet the challenges which life was throwing at us. The property had been on the market a while, so we put an offer in and it was accepted. We now just needed to sell our property.
We got our place ready to go on the market within a week. The home report, which is done by a surveyor to give prospective buyers key facts about the house and an estimated market valuation, came back with perfect scores for the condition of the house and good valuation price. Within 24 hours of the property going on the market, we had an offer at the valuation price. We turned it down to test the market a little more. Within a week we had three notes of interest in the property and we decided to set a closing date for offers. This is a Scottish legal event, when a blind auction is held on the property being sold and on the day set, all the bids are opened for the seller to chose which one, if any, they will sell to. We got three bids, with two bids offering several thousand more than the valuation price. The family we chose to sell to we knew from school and felt sure that they would be a great fit for the house and the neighbourhood too. Over the next couple of weeks, we got mortgage approved and the paperwork sorted out. All was going so well. If God was going to block this move, he would have done so by now. All was going so well, what could go wrong?
A week before the agreed move date, we got told that the mortgage paperwork of buyers further down the chain was not yet in order and we would have to delay our entry date. All parties agreed a new move date, a week and a half later. This should give enough time for everyone to get the required paperwork sorted. Due to the terms of our existing mortgage, we had to buy and sell on the same day, otherwise we would have been hit with large financial penalties which would have prevented us from moving.
As the new move in date approached everything appeared to be going well, although binding contracts still had yet to be signed by any party. Due to family health challenges, we had hired a moving company and professional packers to help us move. The packers came into our home the day before the move date to pack our belongings up and to partial load the moving van ready for the move the following day. Then I got a message at 3pm which made my heart sink. A problem with the paperwork had been identified further down the chain. Analysis by lawyers would take days we were told.
I felt like Nehemiah in the Old Testament, when he was rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem and Sanballat and Tobiah were discouraging the work from progressing in the hope that they would thwart Nehemiah’s plans (Nehemiah 4). The news we got could potential stop us from moving the following day and even collapse the whole chain stop anyone from moving, and leaving myself with large lawyer and moving bills, with nothing to show for it. Would God allow such a cruel turn of events to happen?
The packers carried on packing and we finished the day not knowing what was going to happen the following day. We went to bed with the vast majority of our personal belongs loaded onto a van, not knowing where they would end up the following the day.
The next day the packers arrived to complete the loading of the van. We had heard nothing. The packers were aware of our situation and asked several times, what I wanted them to do. My response was “Let’s just crack on”. It was hopeful and faithful. God knew that we have had a number of serious family challenges recently, was he going to allow the move to collapse and let us suffer further? Our prayer that morning was “God please show yourself in this situation. We don’t see you working at the moment, but we know you are there. You are faithful and true. Your character is both merciful and compassionate”.
By 11am all we knew that further downstream lawyers were having a meeting to discuss the paperwork in question. The packers had moved everything into the van with the exception of the sofas. The professional cleaners were in to clean the house sparkle clean ready for the new owners. The head of the packing company came to us and told us that he had never seen anyone in our position and actually move. He started to offer us options for storage or unloading our possessions back into our own house. However, he told us that we had to decide by 12 noon in order to give his men time to complete the job. By this time we had less than 45 minutes to make the move possible. Our lawyers still could not get in touch with the lawyers further down the chain and did not understand what the problem could actually be, as previously they had been told that the all the paperwork was in order. Paolo and Cara Ugolini, the ministers of our church were with us. I sat with Paolo while he prayed for our situation. It was totally in God’s hands at this point, there was nothing we could do to except trust in God.
In the book of Daniel in the Bible (Daniel 3), there is a story about three men who are told to worship a statue of King Nebuchadnezzar, but they refuse and get into deep trouble. The are brought before the king before they are about to be thrown into a fiery furnace. This is their response before the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to explain these things to you. If you throw us into the hot furnace, the God we serve can save us. And if he wants to, he can save us from your power. But even if God does not save us, we want you to know, King, that we refuse to serve your gods. We will not worship the gold idol you have set up.” They put all their confidence in God, but they also knew that God was sovereign. God was still God even if he did not save them from current situation. Their example is such an inspiration to me. An attitude of total surrender. There is a God, and it is not me.
At 11:45, 15 minutes before our moving deadline, we got a phone call from our lawyer. The other lawyers had decided that no further analysis was required and therefore all the paperwork was in order. Contracts could be exchanged and the move could go ahead.
We saw God work in many ways that day. The prayers were answered and before the deadline. We were moving! The removal men finished the final packing and started their journey to the new house. More faith was still required before we finally got our keys at 4pm that day, but by the end of day we had moved. God came through.
Back in the story of Daniel, the three friends were thrown into the furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar, but the story didn’t end there…
“Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
In the furnace they met God. It was certainly not their choice to be there and given the option before hand, they would not have liked to have been thrown into the fire. Yet it turned out to be the safest place to be. In fact there was no safer place to be whole of Babylon at that time.
The apostle Peter reminds us not be surprised when we go through ordeals.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
People of faith want to be close to God. We want to met God when everything is going well, when we get the exam results we wanted, the work promotion we longed for, when life is success followed by more success. This can happen, but more often we met God in the furnace of life. We meet God in the places where we don’t want to be. We meet God when we surrender our will to His in the most challenging of circumstances. We can meet God when a house move isn’t going as planned. We can meet God in doctors consulting room when the test results bring life changing bad news. We can meet God in times of grief. We even come to cherish the ordeals for the closeness to God we can experience. When we refuse to be a victim but instead surrendered to God in all situations, we became victorious.
In conclusion, when we surrender our will to instead be the will of God we understand what the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth…
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:53-58)