A week an a half ago, the neighbor who was renting the house next door to us moved out. We'd not done a good enough job of keeping up with her, and so our first notice came when we saw the truck pull into the driveway.
Not long afterwards, we met the owner, who was making some minor repairs to the property. She was considering converting it to a section eight lease, or possibly selling it. Lisa and I know several couples interested in involvement in redemptive urban living and started to think about the potentials of our new neighbors. We suggested the house to one of our friends, who took a look at it this weekend, but didn't think that it would meet their needs. Meanwhile, Lisa and I began to toy with another idea.
(There's more....)What if we purchased the house and rented it through Kentucky Refugee Ministries? It would be a great way to provide low-cost, downtown housing to an incoming refugee family, and would give us the opportunity to share our lives with someone coming to our city literally with nothing. We started to imagine the future.... perhaps we would remain neighbors in the long term, perhaps our kids could grow up playing together. Hope-filled "what if's" filled the conversation.
Over the weekend, we chatted with folks and researched the logistics.... friends with resources to help with a down-payment... friends with knowledge in liability and real estate issues... friends to get us excited and to help us through.
And so a hopeful expectation grew.... and so we prepared to put things in place today.
We left Lexington yesterday afternoon for lunch out of town, and returned that evening to a find a "for sale" sign in the neighboring yard.
A few phone calls later, we discovered that the property had been posted for sale late that morning.... and sold, two hours later.... for cash.
We were pretty floored.... and so we come to the death of a dream.
Maybe it is for the best. There were many reasons why maybe we would not have been able to afford it, mostly "what ifs" of a different tone. What if Lisa doesn't get a job when she's out of school? What if something happens and we need extra money for Swaziland? What if we accidentally become pregnant and have to provide for a new baby? What if it would be better to invest resources elsewhere?
I kind of believe that God did not want us to buy this house. Or is that just something I tell myself for comfort in my disappointment? It is pretty rare, I suspect, for a house to be listed and sold for cash so quickly. Maybe God really is that involved in our lives. Perhaps there really is a God out there with a vision that we do not have and who is able and willing to act in ways that disappoint us but also protect and bless us.
Perhaps there was a different idea for this little home next to us. The house was not bought by a slum lord or by someone just wanting to move to the neighborhood with hopes of increasing property values. It was bought by Faith Community Housing, an organization that does just what we had planned to do ourselves. We may just end up living next to a refugee family after all. If we do not hold too tightly the the dream which lay dying, we can be awakened to the birth of a new hope.
I'm surprised that it is not very easy. It's hard to put aside the part of us that wants to help in providing for the needs of others, preventing us in simply rejoicing at their provision. It's easy to feel slighted... putting in a faithful, early effort... approaching with generosity and sincerity... expectantly pursuing hopes of shalom.... and watching them all supplanted with only a moment's forwarning. It is hard.
But perhaps that's the seed that falls to the ground and dies.... and some time later, with God's care, pushes forward through hard earth in resurrection, in maturity bearing fruit.
And so our current hopeful expectation is that we can be as deliberate, sincere, generous, and excited about our new neighbors-to-be as we were about our recently uprooted and now-replanted dream.
(co-written: for an extra thinking exercise, you can figure out which parts are mine and which are Lisa's)