They say moving is one of the most stressful life events you can experience. I always thought that was because of the effort of physically dragging all your belongings from one place to another, and then finding yourself in a place where you may not have the same social circle you are used to and feel out of place and disorganized. Having actually moved several times since then,, though, I personally think the hardest thing about moving is all the stuff that happens before you actually start packing, that is, the house hunt.
We’ve been on the house hunt for half a year now. I’ve found it incredibly challenging for a couple of reasons. I suppose there are the obvious difficulties, of identifying houses that fit your criteria, establishing that they are available and within your budget, visiting them, and potentially making an offer, but then there is the emotional element.
Every house we visit that seems viable, I start imagining. I envision our baby growing up there. I think about the things we might change, the furniture or decorations we might use, what we might do with the garden or shed, the opportunities we might have there to be a blessing to our church family or neighbors through hospitality. With each house, a new set of dreams is born, and each time we have to move on from that house, for one reason or another, those dreams have to die.
As those dreams come and go, I find that I struggle more and more with contentment in our current situation. I visit a house and see that we could have a kitchen table, a bathtub, a garden, a sitting room big enough to have company, room for our daughter to crawl and toddle safely, storage (blessed, blessed storage space), etc, and naturally I am reminded that we don’t have those things right now, and it could be a while until we do. The emotions rise then, frustration, fear, doubt, and I have to reevaluate. What is really important here? Is it the convenience of a kitchen table, or the luxury of a bathtub, or is it something else?
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Phil 4:11-12).
My husband works weekdays from our sitting room, which means my dog, my daughter, and I spend our days in our bedroom and postage stamp kitchen. Baby plays with her toys on the bed, or, if I have cooking or cleaning to do, she sits in her bouncer or plays on her mat (which covers pretty much our entire kitchen floor hahaha), and I scoot awkwardly around her to do my chores. It’s times like these that I think, man, it would be great to not have to trip over my baby in order to do my laundry.”
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:16, ESV)
It was in one of these moments that the Lord stopped me in my tracks. I listened to my baby cooing as I stepped carefully around her on her mat, and was tempted as usual to dwell resentfully on the lack of space, but instead all I could think about was her. Suddenly I saw her, not just as my sweet little baby, but as an eternal soul. Her days were already laid out for her by the all-powerful God that made her, days that I was living with her even now. God planned that she should be playing on her mat in our tiny old apartment, and that I should be singing to her while I shuffled around her to do dishes and fold clothes. God planned that I should be her mother, and my husband her father, and my dog her canine pal. God planned that we should raise her up to know and love him, to teach her his ways, and God willing to prepare her for an eternity spent worshipping him in glorious daily activity in the new Heaven and new Earth.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)
Joy filled my heart at that thought. I didn’t have to have a kitchen table to teach my little girl about Jesus, or to model his love to her every day. I didn’t need a bath tub to tell her what it means to be a sinner in need of forgiveness, or to share the Good News that Jesus took the wrath that we deserved and that we may have everlasting life in him.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)
When I think about our apartment in the context of worldly standards, it is just a drafty, old matchbox, but when viewed in the context of eternity, it becomes a sanctum of holy joys, a place where God can be served and praised and delighted in, a place that may not be suited to comfortable dining, or entertaining any number of guests, but that is perfectly suited to entertaining the Holy Spirit, and all the work he has for us here and now as he intended from eternity past. I still look forward to moving, and I think we will still struggle from time to time with contentment regarding our housing, but I pray that every time my thoughts stray toward dissatisfaction, God would remind me once again of the incredible blessing it is to have his sovereign hand at work in our lives. Now is not a wasted season spent searching for a home while we are trapped in a cold and inconvenient living space. Now is a season that God has planned to prepare myself, my husband, and my baby for an eternity spent in the house of our Father. There is no house hunt more important than the one that ends there.