Remembering the fall of 2008 is just as clear to us as if it was yesterday. It was our move to a rental house after losing our home in a foreclosure. The home we lost was the house we thought we “arrived” in. The largest either of us owned, with a pool, basketball court, playground and much more.
It was a big decision for us as a family, not to mention our biggest supporters, our children. One night we sat them down and explained to them that because we were self-employed in the real estate industry, our business wasn’t doing well. So we presented two options to them. We could maintain our family lifestyle by one of us being home with them, if we downsized into a smaller home. As an alternative, we could keep our home, but both of us would have to get jobs as opposed to being self-employed, in which we would need to hire a babysitter. To our surprise, the kids said they would miss the pool but would rather move, and so the search was on for a rental.
We have to admit it was difficult trying to find a house that represented our home, but God provided the perfect place. This house had all the upgrades our previous home had: custom paint, plantation shutters, granite counter tops, stainless steel refrigerator, and much more. So we decide to make that house our home until we could purchase another home.
Because we were moving from a 3200 sq ft home into a 2200 sq ft home, we had to get rid of a lot of furniture, and material possessions that simply wouldn’t fit. Since we became peaceful with downsizing, we walked through the house and saw potential instead of obstacles.
We remember walking through with a friend, who said… “I don’t think you guys are going to like it here; none of your stuff is going to fit.”
Love her dearly, but Timberley enthusiastically said…”Yes, it will. I can see it!”
As we moved into the home, we were blessed to have our church family help us. Although that was uncomfortable, it was the best experience of our life. It brought us to a place of humility, which we had never experienced. And it was in that move, that God spoke to us loudly for the first time in all of our trial; that He was in control, and He has a purpose in all of this.
After losing everything, you may be wondering how. Well, as our brother in law, who also attended our church, was moving furniture into our son’s room, he said…”Y’all don’t look like a family that is struggling.”
Our brother in-law will never know how much that helped our spiritual walk. How much that phrase, comment, remark, or whatever you want to call it, laid such a strong foundation in our hearts to keep pushing through, keep having faith, keep seeking God, and never give up regardless of how difficult it may be.
What that statement meant to us was, we weren’t still waiting for happy ending, a grand testimony to this trial. That statement from him was our testimony! It didn’t matter if we lost a home, if we lost a car, if we sold half of our possessions, or if we were making 25% of our previous income; how we walked through the challenges was our testimony! And for us, that statement struck a chord, deep down, in our soul that it changed our perspective on our situation from that day forward.
As a Christian, we are not exempt from trials, tribulations, or problems. In fact, we are told in James 1 to count it all joy when we fall into trials and tribulations. The key word here is when, not if.
Jesus tells us that others will identify us by our fruit. Yet, too many times we get hung up on what our fruit is supposed to look like. Let’s take a look at the parable Jesus spoke to the disciples about a tree and its fruit…
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
~ Matthew 7:15-20 (NLT)
The difference between a believer walking through a trial and a non-believer, is how one responds. People will identify you by your fruit. As a believer, we have the ability through Jesus Christ, to bear good fruit even in the midst of challenges. And what will appear to be a downgrade to you, will look like an upgrade to others.
Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee
~ Andre and Timberley Gray