Do you know how that song goes—“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug….”?
This week, we were definitely the bugs. With all the fixing and packing and staging and everything else we have to do to get our current house on the market, I guess it was inevitable that something would go wrong. But really, God, did it have to be something so… major?
Last week, while Pete was in Europe and I was home trying to coordinate all the workmen and repairs, I shouldn’t have been surprised that someone (do we have to mention who?) decided to mess with us. What a great way to distract us from the amazing work God was accomplishing through Pete’s talks at the conference he was attending. This “get them distracted” isn’t a new ploy—things frequently fall apart at home when Pete off on a ministry trip. We’ve had raw sewage in the laundry room, broken cars, crashed hard drives, you name it.
This time, through a series of communication snafus coupled with tremendous confusion about who said what when, we ended up with a cedar sided home that is three-quarters covered with a lovely transparent brown-tinted stain, and about one-fourth what I am calling “charred-wood black.” It really does look as if it went through a fire—not the best marketing strategy for a home here in Black Forest. (Yes, that Black Forest, where, less than two years ago, over 500 houses burned to the ground in a huge forest fire.)
I won’t go into the gory details of how we are resolving the issue, who was at fault, and who is paying for the stripping and re-staining. It’s not a pretty story.
What I do want to talk about is what God is teaching us through the pain.
I am your shield and defender. Throughout scripture, God repeatedly reminds us that he has our back. We don’t need to fight our own battles. It doesn’t matter if we’re seriously outnumbered. It doesn’t even matter if we’re the ones who screwed up, or if it was the other guys. God will be a father to the fatherless—my dad was a painting contractor, and have I ever missed him this week! He is a defender of widows—and I think that includes times when my husband is on another continent (Psalm 68:5). It isn’t up to me to demand my rights. My job is to turn to God in prayer, then simply obey whatever he tells me to do.
It’s more important to represent God’s character to others, than it is to win. Sure, we may be out a significant amount of money, but how much is a soul worth? I don’t know if the other parties involved are believers or not, but they certainly know that we are. Do we want to bury them under a pile of recriminations? How we treat them, even if we think we’re the ones who were wronged, is going to tell them a lot about who God is. And if this costs us more money than we can afford, well, God knows that too. Check out 1 Peter 3:13-17 for more on this idea.
Make our decisions out of prayer and peace, not frustration and fury. When we’re angry, our focus is on us—what they did to us and how we are the injured party. But when we turn the problem over to God, our focus shifts to him and he floods our minds with peace. With our own wants and opinions out of the way, we are able to hear his voice telling us how to respond. Suddenly it’s not about us at all.
Pray hard. We aren’t able to learn any of these lessons apart from prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. Our natural tendency is to run screaming, yell at people, and make demands (or, in my case, eat chocolate and numb my brain with endless games of computer solitaire). We have to keep letting go, handing it all back to God. We have to allow God to remake us daily, over and over. It’s the only way to turn the whole situation into God’s life-giving victory.