But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed both your Thanksgiving feast and your relatives, and are now happily munching on turkey sandwiches. It’s time to move on from being thankful to shopping for gifts intended to make one another even more thankful next year. After all, if we appreciate having some possessions, then we’ll appreciate have additional possessions even more.
Pete and I have been praying about downsizing for several years now, but hesitated to market our house in the languishing economy. Well, one morning last month we both woke up sensing it was time to take some steps. We spent our next couple of “date days” looking at model homes, driving up and down new neighborhoods, and doing due diligence on several prospective builders. Finally we picked out a “good enough” house we liked, and a “good enough” lot owned by a “good enough” builder in a nice new development. We were ready to sign on the dotted line.
Then we saw The Lot. It was amazing. Just up the street from where we had decided to live, it’s surrounded on two sides by green belt, faces north (so the sun can shine in all those huge rear windows we expect to have, and has a stupendous view of snow-covered, 14,110 foot Pikes Peak that will never be blocked. Incredible! The hitch? It’s owned by an upscale builder—one that does beautiful work, but at a considerably higher price.
I’ll admit it. We both coveted that lot.
The hardest thing was that, if we tried hard, we could actually afford it, at least according to the bank. It would be a stretch, and making the payments would depend on Pete’s continued paychecks (not a dependable source of income!), but according to the financial “rules,” we qualify.
In addition, the lot has a stipulation that the house built on it be a certain size—larger than we really need, but certainly desirable.
We put a 7-day hold on the lot and went home to pray over the decision. God didn’t waste a lot of time dithering. He led me to 1 John 2:16:
For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
In short, I wanted the privacy afforded by the open spaces, the view was lovely, and the house would be impressive (it corresponds nicely, doesn’t it), but in this case, all that was coming from the world, not the Father.
I should point out that our current home also has all these features—we’re on almost five acres, across the street from open fields and cattle, with a stunning view of Pikes Peak and a nicely fixed-up house. And God clearly instructed us to buy this house. It has met our needs for 21 years. Several ministries were launched here; at one point we had seven people with desks and computers working downstairs. Interns and ministry workers have lived here for months, even years, at a time. We’ve had uncountable overnight guests. It’s easy to see why God wanted us in this house for the past 21 years.
Now our instructions are to downsize, to conserve time and resources, and to free ourselves for other things. Building a large home on a larger lot for more money doesn’t match God’s plans.
We called up the luxury builder and cancelled the hold. Then we called the “good enough” builder and committed to our new home. Today we walk the lot to see where the house will go. Next week (when everyone is back from their Thanksgiving travels) we will sign a contract to build. They expect it to take about six months; in the meantime, we need to get our current house on the market and start packing.
The funny thing is, now that we’ve made a decision, instead of feeling sad about not getting the dream lot, I’m content. In fact, I’m more than content. I’m getting more and more excited about the huge blessing our new home will be. Sure, I’ll miss my chickens and pine trees, and the peace and quiet of living in the country, but I’ll be able to run to the market a few blocks away, we’ll have new neighbors to meet, and Pete’s list of house-related honey-dos will be practically eliminated. That’s a lot to be thankful for.