The House That God Won’t Sell by Heidi Loften

September 4, 2012 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

So, if you have known The Loften family during the past 2 ½ years or so, you know that we own a house in Cabot, AR where we no longer live.  We began trying to sell that house in May 2010 before we moved to Fayetteville in August 2010.  We have prayed that this house will sell.  We have had anyone who would listen and would pray praying that this house will sell.  We have begged and pleaded with God for 2+ years to free us from the burden of this house.  I especially have taken it personally that God has not answered our prayer.  He has sold houses down the street from ours in seemingly miraculous ways.  We have had countless “almosts”—any of which could have turned into a sale if He had willed it.  We followed His call to move to pastor a different church; shouldn’t He have smoothed the path ahead?  He knows that pastors don’t make enough to cover 2 mortgages!  Why would God put this burden on us when we are just trying to be faithful to Him?

I am here to report that the burden of this house has been lifted from our shoulders!  However, the title to the house is still in our name.  God has given me freedom, but not in the way I thought it would or should come.

I have told many people about “our house” over the past couple of years.  I have praised its charms and selling points.  I have bemoaned the features it lacks which I was certain had kept it from selling.  I have spoken of it in unflattering “albatross” terms as a burden that is keeping us from being and doing all that we want to do in our new home.  I had grown to resent its existence.  How long, Lord, will our prayer go unanswered?

God answered my prayer by telling me about “His house.”  It has the same address as “our house that won’t sell,” but a very different story.  “His house” sat empty and waiting for a year for a family that would need a new home.  This family had moved from a discouraging situation where they had felt shame and defeat.  They walked into the house that God had been saving for them and felt like royalty.  It was a beautiful new home, more luxurious than any they ever dreamed of living in.  Their hope and confidence were renewed.  They knew if God had provided them with such a lavish blessing as this home, that His favor and hand would bless their new endeavors.  God’s house was perfectly laid out to host countless Bible studies and cookouts.  Our family could not have asked for a better home while we lived in Cabot.

When we left Cabot and moved to Fayetteville, we assumed we would sell one house and be moving into another.  But God moved us into Paradise instead…or so we dubbed the cheap 2 bedroom apartment where we spent the next 6 months.  The lessons learned in Paradise were countless, but in summary—God used it to refine our family and orchestrate His perfect timing.  We gained a new appreciation for each other and God renewed our desire to add to our family.  Had we sold “our house” when we planned to all of the pieces would not have fallen as they did to bring our precious new daughter into our family.  God used “His house” to deliver “His baby” into her family.

For the 2nd time now, God has used His house to answer the prayer of a family seeking a house to rent.  Twice now after fervently praying for our house to sell and sensing in our spirits that God was moving, He has told us to rent it instead.  Twice now a family has called us within hours of offering our house for rent telling us that our house was the specific answer to their prayer.

God used this 2nd instance to tell me the story of His house.  “Why, God?” I asked Him, “Why did you answer that family’s prayer and not ours?”  The answer came back, “Because this is my house.   I can use it for my plans and purposes.  I can use it to bless the renting families, and teach your family to pray.”  God flooded my heart with the story of His house.  The blessing it has been to our family in so many ways, and the blessing that it has been twice now to families praying for a home.  God also made it clear to me that He was not asking me to bear the responsibility of the house while He exercises the freedom to do with it as He pleases.  Although a pastor’s salary can’t support 2 mortgages, He has always provided.  Both in freedom to do with it as He pleases and in responsibility to provide, this is and has always been His house.

I am not going to stop praying about the house, but I am going to stop praying for “our house” to sell.  I am praying for “God’s house” now—a haven, a place of redemption, a home with God-sized potential which exists for His glory.  I am praising Him for the miracles He has done in and through it and trusting Him for more.  I am finally free from a burden that was never mine but has left scars on my back.  God is showing me that His promise is true for more than just houses.  He is teaching me to be burdened in prayer and leave His part to Him.

29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

When God Vetoes Your Plan (Prayer and Sovereignty)

August 5, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

If I had known that for the 3rd time in a row that we would move before selling our house, I would have kept a journal or something and recorded those thoughts in a handful of blog posts.  Since I didn’t, these thoughts are going to be a little more reflective and rambly (more rambly? than what? your usual posts?  not possible.  Agreed)  The reason I didn’t keep a journal is that, in all seriousness, I never believed that it would go down this way.

A little history.

The first house that we tried to sell was when we moved from Conway, AR to go to seminary.  The house sat empty for 6 months.  At the time I was a pizza delivery guy and then a Chick-Fil-A night manager with a max income of about $1000/mth.  Meanwhile, I’m a full-time student with two kids and Heidi is a full-time stay-at-home mom.  It was a huge stretch for us.  I didn’t think we would make it.  Meanwhile our only car blows up.  The car we get to replace it turns out to be a lemon.

Result: We left seminary with more money than we came with.  God showed himself to be much bigger (and complicated) than I ever realized.

The second house was when we moved from St. Louis to Cabot to start Fellowship Cabot. That house sat empty for 5 months (We’re improving).  Fortunately, we were going to make more money and felt confident financially.

Result: A builder/realtor that was part of the plant team allowed us to move into a house he built before we could buy it (for free!) until our house sold and we closed when we sold our house.  We lived in a house that was bigger and nicer than we ever thought we would live in.  God showed himself to be in control and had a plan worked out so much better than the one we were praying for.

This brings us to the present and we have not, as of this post, sold our house in Cabot.  We moved to Fayetteville last week.  We have had more showings than we did before, more “almosts” than before, we had it sold for about 14 hours.  However, here we are, where we have always been.  We left a house.  There have not been many things that we have prayed for more than this.  Many people all over have been praying for us.  If you could “pray your way” into a certain outcome, this would be it.  If God’s hand could be forced by faithful, diligent, believing prayers, we would have sold our house 2 months ago.

So what does this mean?  Best I can figure there are two groups that believe that they have prayer all figured out.  First are the ultra-sovereignty (my word) people.  God is going to do what he is going to do regardless.  We pray because God says we should, and prayer changes us, not what’s going to happen.  My problem there is that the Bible says so much about how when we ask in faith we receive.

This leads us to group two.  If you believe and pray, you will get what you ask for.  Not getting what you ask for means there is something wrong with you.  Very clever.  Any time I don’t get what I ask for, it’s my fault.  That way I chase my disappointment with guilt and failure.  Problem here is, Paul, who I’m guessing had more faith than me, prayed for an affliction to be taken away and God said no.  Furthermore, God is not a puppet on a string that submits himself to the whims and wills of sinful people.

So where does that leave us?  That leaves us in the murky middle.  I believe that God is in complete control.  I believe prayer changes the world.  I believe God answers prayer.  I believe God’s plan is better than mine.  Sometimes these truths collide.  Sometimes God vetoes your plan and we are left with a crisis of sorts.

Is there something wrong with me?  Does prayer not work? Does God not care? Is God really not in control?

No, no, no, no.

Is God working out a plan more complicated and better for me than mine? Do I need to learn trust?  Is a good, loving, sovereign God got this?

Yes, yes, yes.

Details to come (soon?) on how God worked all this out.

(BTW, You can find earlier ramblings on this topic here)