After we finished painting all the rooms in our house, we’d done everything possible to make it sell. Potential buyers came and went, each one raving about how “charming” our home was and how much “character” it had, but no one made an offer. As Linnea said, “If that house ever sells, you’ll know for sure it’s God who does it.”
I thought about our perseverance. It was fruitless. Why was it so important to God anyway? The answer, of course, was that perseverance is one of his character traits, and he’s a champion at it. We’re to emulate him, and cultivating perseverance is part of that calling.
In the Old Testament, Abraham’s offspring, the children of Israel, were about as difficult to deal with as any rebellious child of our time. Yet God modeled perseverance to the nth degree, continuing to love them without conditions. He loves us that way, too.
God also demonstrates perseverance in his efforts to teach us, despite our inability to learn everything he wants us to know. But he uses a variety of methods and sets up life circumstances as object lessons to make our learning easier.
And most impressive is how he persevered to find a way to bridge the chasm between our sin and his sinlessness, letting Jesus go to the cross to absorb our judgment. His perseverance in finding a way for us to be forgiveness is the one and only reason we have access to heaven. If he’d have thrown in the towel and said, “I’m giving up on them,” we’d all be damned.
When I thought of God’s flawless perseverance, my complaints about the house not selling “after all we’d done” seemed trite. God wasn’t doing what I wanted him to, and I was annoyed. But of course there was a good reason for his resistance. I just didn’t know what it was.
When we’d originally put the house on the market, Birgitta was about to enter high school. By this time she was a senior, closing in on graduation, and my patience was wearing thin. We knew seven people who’d put their homes on the market after we had, and during those four years, all seven had sold. We thought maybe we should take down the “For Sale” sign and put up “House for Free.”
As the weeks went by, every time the realtor called to say a new family was coming to look at the house, I’d jump into action: stop what I was doing, wipe the sinks, close the toilet lids, shake the rugs, straighten the throw pillows, turn all the lights on and put Jack in the car. This was done without hope for a sale but strictly because I didn’t want the realtor to know I’d given up.
And then one day it happened. She called and spoke the magic words: “We have an offer!”
We’d heard these words twice before without finalizing a sale. But if we were ever going to sell, it would have to begin there. Did we dare to hope?
(…to be continued)
“What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient?” (Job 6:11)