I wanted to arrive in Texas with lots of money, to finally attain my flawed Americanized vision of what a “mature” believer should look like – comfortable and complacent in my financial planning. These desires should have tipped me off. But I was totally unaware. My prideful self-reliance was running roughshod over me.
These unacknowledged hopes impacted me spiritually, leaving me with a troubled conscience. But I didn’t identify the root until a sleepless night, when God pierced me to the core, and I wrestled with my disquiet and my nagging sense of guilt. When I faced my sin, the Lord revealed his purposes, his kindnesses, and his mission.
As usual, these strip me to the bones and exalt him, rather than my fleshy inclination.
A clean conscience is incredibly important to me. It’s the bedrock of an honest and obedient walk with God. Paul gave much instruction on the importance of a clean conscience for this reason. And so, the Lord brought to light my internal struggle by revealing a problem that we didn’t know existed.
The relocation company’s home inspection revealed mold in the attic. And thus, they backed out of our buyout, and we couldn’t sell our home without great loss and thorough disclosure, bare naked to the posts and the beams. Our application of the Golden Rule became simple: Would I want to know about this if I were buying this home? Yes. And so, we disclosed openly, and the selling price dropped accordingly.
So, instead of arriving at our new home looking prosperous and having everything in order, we’re stumbling in still reeling from the latest catastrophe. However, we’re now aware that God has a purpose for us in hurricane-impacted southern Texas.
We arrive to serve in a new church, an older couple seasoned through many years of trial. The process of seasoning isn’t much fun. It’s usually quite painful. The events God chooses to bring into our lives to cause us to grow are often difficult.
We first faced this kind of catastrophe when we left Kansas in 1994. A 500-year flood had left us with a home we couldn’t sell, rent, or fix, according to the experts, FEMA, and the construction codes. (Ironically, they were wrong. The house still stands.) And now, some twenty-four years later, we again lose our entire investment in a house.
But, the circumstances differ. We now have arrived in a location that recently suffered a horrific hurricane. Many people are experiencing a similar loss and are still attempting to recover. Many will face bankruptcy in the next few years due to the long-term fallout, and many will never recover financially from this event. We know this experientially.
Selfishly and pridefully, I had wanted to bury our past struggles and appear to be comfortable and complacent Americans with money. But that is not our story.
Instead we arrive looking like everyone else. Except we’ve already done this before. We’ve already dug into God’s Word to discover the depths of his love and mercy during trials, and we already know this sort of tragedy has the potential to make us more compassionate and aware of God’s kindness.
This isn’t why I thought we were moving to Texas. Naïvely and selfishly, for a brief and fanciful moment, I assumed it was for our comfort. But, as C.S. Lewis wrote, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”
This is not the new earth. Neither is it Eden. One day our struggles will be over. Our hope is set there. But, while we are here, yet we will struggle. Every apostle and prophet of God struggled. Even Jesus was raised in a poor family. Yet God’s kind and generous intentions for finances modeled a just system that took care of the sojourner and the poor, protected property, and forgave debts. A just future is coming. Currently, we don’t live in that system.
We live in a world system governed by grinding economics – Babylon the Great. This is not Home. This is not where we finally have no more troubles. That’s on the other side. Trials can train our hearts to fix our eyes on Jesus and our eternity with him, to not lose sight of our mission to encourage downhearted people like ourselves, and to share the message of God’s love with people who have no hope.
This is our life. This is our goal. I’m thankful for the shattering yet bracing reminder that I answer to God and will one day stand before him