Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Beginnings

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Rev 21:5; NIV

It’s Spring at the Bahr household.    And with it, the desire for change.  After a lot of talking and prayer, Mike and I decided to put our home on the market.  We originally bought this home thinking we would only be here for 2-3 years….it turned out being the longest either of us have lived anywhere!

Why did we think it was temporary?  The reason we moved is that I had left my nursing career of 16 years to volunteer at our church.  At the time, everyone including myself thought I was nuts.  It made no sense.  I was leading some new ministries at a new church plant to the tune of about 20-30 hours a week, and was finding it hard to make that schedule, my mommy schedule, and my work schedule jive.  I felt really spread out.  And about this same time, God began asking me to leave the hospital job I loved.  It was an agonizing decision.  But once I made it, things started falling into place….like the house.

We had built our last home.  At the time it was our dream house.  We picked the floor plan, had an awesome back yard, and in the 6 years we were there finished the basement.  But, without my income, we would need something less expensive.  We heard about a block of houses involved in a lawsuit that were being sold below market value.   When we went with a relator to tour some of them, we found out what was going on.  The compost yard the city had started near the waste transfer station across the highway from these homes produced a “strong smell”.  As I recall, it was very similar to “rotten eggs”.  It was so strong, that this nearby neighborhood sued the city and won.  If we purchased a home, we would get a good deal, but we would have to take it “smell and all”!  To this day, it shocks me that we even considered it. 

The day we drove up to the home we are now living in, is one I will never forget.  As we entered the driveway, I heard the Holy Spirit assure me that this home was the one for us.  For some reason, I was moved to tears.  Mike looked at me and was a bit perplexed.  When he asked me what was going on, I said,  “God just told me he is giving me this house”, he looked at me like only he can and said, “Well, do you still want to go inside?”  Touring the 1970’s rancher was surreal.  Although it was in need of updating, overall it had more square footage than I envisioned us being able to afford on one income. There were definitely some issues….like the mauve tile fireplace in the living room, the orange carpet in the basement, the warped cabinets in the kitchen, and the pink tile that went throughout the home.   But if I looked past those, I could see its potential. 

After seeing the home, we decided to put the house we had built up on the market.  We were determined not to give it away.  So we listed it in the weekend paper at top dollar and prayed that if God really wanted me to quit my job and move, then he would sell it without a realtor.  And he did!  One weekend in the paper and it sold.  It got very real very fast.  We put a bid on the “smelly house”, they accepted the offer, and we signed a “smell clause” indicating we knew full well what we were getting into.  I felt more sick than you could know, the kind of sick that makes your stomach hurt.  Although we felt pretty sure God was in it, the whole quit your job and move into a smelly neighborhood thing seemed insane. 

That was 14 years ago.  Since that time we have done a lot of remodeling and updating to the home.  Walls came down, new cabinets went in, the flooring throughout the home was replaced as well as both fireplaces.  Inside and out, there has been quite a transformation.  It was a lot of hard work, but the changes made it worthwhile.

I can look back, and say almost these very same things about the changes God made in my life during the last 14 years.  The home wasn’t the only thing in need of restoration!  Walls came down in my marriage, strongholds were broke in both our lives, and later I was set free from some abuse I experienced in my childhood.  Yes, like our home, God made some drastic improvements in our lives while we lived here, and it was a painful process.  But I would do it all again, the changes that resulted were worth it. 

In our Sunday posts we have been following the Israelites relationship with God.  Last week, we looked at the very first Passover, and how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt by purchasing their freedom with the blood of the lamb.  The sacrificial lambs were a temporary substitute for the future lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who would die on a cross for our sins.  He set us free from our slavery to sin, and gave us a clean slate before God.  

Right after the first Passover, God made a new calendar. “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. (Exodus 12:2; NIV)  The month this happened in was March..the beginning of Spring.  How perfect!  Spring, when new life springs forward is the anniversary of God’s new beginning with his chosen bride.  Soon, they would physically leave Egypt-their old home- behind and begin a new journey to a new home of God's choosing.  

Maybe today as you read this, you realize that you are in need of a new beginning?  A fresh start.  My experience is that God is the one to give that to you.  But, like my home, it will take you following his lead, doing some things you don’t understand, and don’t want to do, to get it.  Many times, like the Israelites experienced, new beginnings follow very difficult endings.   Often, when God is restoring things in our life, the process of tearing down walls, replacing old patterns with new ones, is painful.  In fact, things often get worse before they get better.  Can I encourage you to stay the course though?  The transformation will be worth it, if God is the one doing it

You have heard it said, out with the old, in with the new. Well there were a lot of new beginnings in this home too.   After 2 years of unemployment, the church hired me.  I directed several ministries part time, and then a few years later went full time.  I went back to school, took Bible classes and got my pastoral license.  Both kids graduated high school, went onto college, and found their life long companions while we were in this home.  Kelsey and Fred even held their wedding reception in our backyard! 

So why would we move?  The smell?  No, actually 2 years after we moved in, the city closed the compost yard!  Thank goodness.  No, the reason we are considering moving is that we find ourselves in a new phase of life.   The things we want to do (and not do)with our time has changed as well as how we want to spend our money.  We don’t need this big of home and this big yard.  It’s just the two of us.  And we are finding we want to go…go to the lake, go out with friends...just go!  Who has time for cleaning this house and doing yard work!! 

So, we will see if it sells.  We’ve prayed the same prayer we prayed 14 years ago…”God if you want us to move, you are going to have to sell this home!”

PS.  I rearranged the living excuse this time was I needed to de-clutter and make the space look as big as possible!  I don't think any of My Sistah's have seen this arrangement before!  

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