When my pastor pronounced, “God works on both sides of the equation,” images of algebraic equations filled my mind. Normally, I enjoy the delicate balancing act of solving an equation and getting ‘x’ all by itself. However, the sudden shift caused the algebraic equation in our life off balance. However, the It aligns with my personality where balance, order, and control are essential.
When a health crisis in 2016 cascaded to a job loss, and the need to sell our home in 2017, I wondered if this equation was unsolvable. But I held on to the truth I heard repeatedly, “God Works on Both Sides of the Equation.”
Months later, I sat on the deck and shaded my eyes from the afternoon sun. “Refuge is my word for 2017,” I shared with my friend Lauri. Over hazelnut liquid mercy (aka coffee), I shared with her the plan to rent our home on the Vacation Rental by Owner site, if our home did not sell by May 2017.
Lauri’s response was surprising, “How awesome April, God needs your house!”
Her response was unlike everyone else’s. Most people nodded their head feeling the gravity of our situation.
“What?” I questioned.
“God needs your house! God is going to use your house as a place of refuge for someone else this summer,” she explained.
Our afternoon conversation continued, but her response lingered in my mind. Could it be true? Could the word ‘refuge’ have a wider scope than my heart? God can do anything, why would he want to use my house, I pondered?
The notion that God needed our home changed the trajectory of my prayers. Instead of praying, “Lord, sell our home.” I prayed, “Lord use this home as a refuge for others. Whoever enters through the doors, whether as a summer vacationer or as a prospective homebuyer, may this house be a place of quiet refuge and peace. Amen.”
I walked through each room of our home praying for the future residents. I prayed for the restoration of family relationships, renewed faith, peace, and reconciliation. If someone else was going to sit in my red chair, I wanted him or her to feel the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Our home did not sell by May so we removed it from the market and listed our home on the VRBO.com website and within weeks, our home was booked for the entire summer! (Thank the Lord for my parents who offered for us to stay with them for the summer).
How were we to know that same Northern VA family was vacationing at Smith Mountain Lake in July? While on vacation the family spent a day house hunting. They asked the realtor to drive past our home. Later, Denise told me, “I wanted to see the house in person. Even if it was no longer for sale, I wanted closure.”
Denise continued, “April, you have no idea how many times I’ve stalked your home online. I had the entire house mapped out in my mind. I had prayed for God to open doors for us and close doors not intended for us. When your house went off the market I thought, ‘Ok, God that is a closed door.’ When the realtor drove us to your home and we saw that it was back on the market, I had to see it before we left. When my husband and I walked in, we knew this was the place.”
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Only God could allow our home to close without a hitch in record-breaking time. Chris and I had to opportunity to meet the homebuyers a couple of times. Once, when we stopped by to drop off paperwork, Denise invited us in to tell us a story.
“We have to tell you, the presence of the Lord is strong in this home, especially here,” pointing to an area surrounding my red chair.
The homebuyers also purchased most of our furniture including one of my red chairs. I shared with Denise, my blog, Red Chair Moments. “The area you’re pointing to is where I have spent hours reading God’s Word and in prayer. I can think of no greater compliment than to be told the presence of the Lord is felt in this place.”
I went on to explain my significance of the word ‘refuge’, how my friend said God needed this house, and how I prayed through every room. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears and she told me their family had a rough few years. “Restoration and refuge are what we need.”
Denise and I shared more stories of God’s faithfulness, while our husbands talked over home mechanics etc. There are many more stories of God’s amazing grace that she shared with me involving specific ways our home was a refuge for their family but will remain in confidence. Trust me when I say, God works on both sides of the equation.
~April Dawn White
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