Getting married threw a major wrench in the independent life I created for myself. When my husband and I met, I was living in a gated community five minutes from my job. My entire life was structured and well planned out. Manicured lawns, spotless floors, colored-coded closets.
Monday through Friday, I woke up at 7:00 AM spent over an hour getting dressed and beating my face, another twenty minutes grabbing breakfast, giving myself just enough time to get into work at 9:00 AM (or maybe 9:10 AM, if we're honest).
My weekends were just as structured. Laundry, house cleaning, nails, hair, food shopping, church, family, check! I did the same thing every week and I liked it that way. I spent all of my twenties doing things my way, by my rules, on my time.
Once we got married, my husband and I chose to move into my place. The challenge was, my husband's commute to work was about 2 1/2 hours one way. We knew the commute wouldn’t be sustainable, so when it came time to buy a home, I knew I would have to compromise. What I did not anticipate (as most millennials learn the hard way), was the prices of homes on the market.
We live in New Jersey, one of the most expensive states in the country. Homes were too costly in all of the neighborhoods I wanted to live in, and while we could stretch our dollars to live in a great area, it just wasn’t how we wanted to spend our disposable income. I like nice things, but I love great deals more than I like nice things, if you know what I mean. Not to mention, neither one of us came from a background of silver spoons, and we were trying to pay off student loans.
We finally came across a home I truly loved, did all of the work to have it appraised, worked with a contractor to create beautiful floorplans, only to have the deal fall flat. I was devastated, I found what I thought was my dream home and to see the deal fall through made me want to stay right where I was. Eventually, my husband and I would come across a house in a "less than desirable” neighborhood by my standards.
I hated that neighborhood—but for some reason, the sellers of the home were willing to give us a decent price and even paid a portion of the closing costs. I prayed, and prayed, and prayed, asking God for the deal to fall through if it was not his will. Even on closing day, as I signed our check, I still begged:
"Lord if this is not you, PUHLLEEEEAASE makes this deal fall through!"
The deal did not fall through.
We closed easy peezy, and just like that, we were homeowners. After signing my life away at the lawyer's office, I shrugged and said, “OK, if this is God's will then so be it."
What would happen to our family in the coming months and years could only have been foreseen by God. I became ill and unable to work. The home we bought, thankfully, was an income-producing property that was able to provide for our needs for the time I was out of work.
Since purchasing the home, many storms and trials have come in our life, but God has continually used our house as a means of provision and sustenance. He always provided, no matter what.
Through our homeownership journey, God taught me that it didn’t matter where I was as long as I was in his will. Buying our first home led my husband and me into the real estate business as investors and landlords. While there have been times of turmoil and stress as landlords and property owners, God always sent enough supplies to keep us going and encouraged.
As we stayed where God planted us, God not only blessed us, but my husband became a Realtor, and God used our journey to be a blessing to our friends who were also becoming first-time homeowners. The best part of our journey has become allowing God to use us to be a blessing to those around us.
Our story reminds me of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Isaac, God’s child of promise, was living in Gerar at a time of great famine. Rather than call Isaac to a better land of abundance, God instructed Isaac to stay in Gerar and promised to bless him in that land:
“Do not go to Egypt; stay in this land, where I tell you to stay. Live here, and I will be with you and bless you. I am going to give all this territory to you and to your descendants. I will keep the promise I made to your father Abraham. I will give you as many descendants as there are stars in the sky, and I will give them all this territory. All the nations will ask me to bless them as I have blessed your descendants. I will bless you because Abraham obeyed me and kept all my laws and commands.” - Genesis 26:2-5
Isaac would stay in the land where God called him and would reap one hundredfold in that same year. The Bible says that he became a wealthy man (VEERRRY rich), but his struggles didn’t end there. Isaac had constant run-ins with the government and locals in Gerar. At one point, the king asked Isaac to leave Gerar because in short, he was taking up all the air in the room.
Even when Isaac left Gerar for the valley and dug new wells, the locals either stole or filled the wells with dirt. Haters. It wasn’t until the third time Isaac dug wells that they finally decided to leave him alone. He named that well Rehoboth. Finally, Isaac entered into his “wide, open, abundant place.”
I would imagine that like myself, each time Isaac hit a stumbling block, he probably wondered if he heard God correctly -- and if he did, why on earth would God ask him to stay in a land of famine AND allow people to disrupt his projects? So the name of the Lord would be glorified.
Knowing what I know now, I’ve gained an understanding of a few principles about being planted:
1. Expect discomfort.
If you love a good fresh cut flower but can’t tolerate tilling soil, planting seeds, the smell of manure, the suffocation of dirt, the abundance of rain, the scorching sun and pruning, you probably won’t make it to the blooming phase. When God asks you to be planted, it’s because there is something in you that needs cultivating and growth comes with growing pains.
2. Expect opposition.
Yes, somebody is going to get on your last nerve. Jealousy and envy will rear their ugly heads. Betrayal might be knocking at the door. There is a giant somewhere in the land you will have to face and slay. Offenses will come. Take them in stride, they are par for the course.
3. The battle is not yours.
Your obedience will make you an instrument in God’s hand. The world we live in tells us to fight our battles with our fists and mouths. Remember you are a battle-ax in the hand of the Lord.
Battle axes don’t jump out of the hand of the owner and just start hacking away, the owner of the ax tells it where to go. Allow God to lead you in seasons of opposition by spending time in praise, worship, prayer and his word. Do what he tells you to do. Period.
4. If you leave the place where God has planted you, you will also leave behind the blessing.
Isaac reaped one hundredfold in a season of famine— in the midst of great opposition because he decided to bloom where he was planted. Don’t miss out on your blessing because you have fainted in your head and allowed the enemy to convince you that you can’t go on, or that there is something better on the other side.
The last 4 years of my life have been about being planted. There was a seed of hope. A dream my husband and I had that we gave to God. We obeyed God, or in my case, dragged our feet into submission.
MANY things came against us, but God showed us in the midst of those challenges that just like he was with Isaac. He was and is always with us. No one and absolutely nothing will keep us from coming into room enough.
If you have found yourself between a rock and a hard place, here are some songs and messages to build you up.
Song: Karen Clark Sheard, “The Safest Place (The Will of God)"
Scripture: Genesis 26
Sermon: Joel Osteen, “Room Enough”
So remember, if you find yourself between a rock and a hard place that God called you into, stay put. Put your eyes on Jesus. Learn the lessons, embrace the pain. Soon enough, before you know it, you WILL enter into room enough.
Now I wanna hear from you: what principles, songs or scriptures have helped YOU get through hard times? Follow The EZ Breezy Life on Facebook and be sure to let me know!
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