Tuesday, July 17, 2007

house story

Okay...so it's time for an update.

So much has happened in the last week. Probably the most significant and hard to believe event has been the near miraculous sale of our home! A real estate agent told us last week that the residential market in Lansing is down 38% in sales this year. It has been brutal. So many of our friends in town have had their homes on the market for many months without even a single offer.

Well, upon the announcement of our resignation from Faith Church we scheduled an appointment with the real estate agent who had been so helpful to us in our last sale and purchase. We called her on that Friday (I think that was the day) and she said she could come to meet with us on Wednesday with the papers for listing.

So Friday afternoon Tracy and I kind of joked around about putting a "For Sale by Owner" sign in the window over the weekend. That evening Lanny, a friend from the church, and his wife were walking through the neighborhood. I was out in the front yard trimming the trees. They stopped and we began to chat. We mentioned the idea about sticking a sign in the yard just for fun until our meeting with the real estate agent. I laughed, "The problem is...me putting a sign out to find a buyer would be like a dog chasing a car. If I caught one I wouldn't know what to do with it." Lanny said, "You forget, I do real estate stuff all the time. If you get a buyer, you can just call me and I'll consult with you. Go buy the sign and put it in the yard. What's it going to hurt?"

That's what we did. Tracy ran to WalMart and Saturday she got a sharpie marker to put our phone number on the sign and stuck it out in the yard. By the end of the weekend we had our first showing scheduled. We told our real estate agent what was going on and that we should probably postpone our meeting with her. She was really helpful and gracious. Wednesday the young couple came to look at the house. They asked to come with some "experts" to walk through again on Saturday. Upon their departure Saturday, they told us to expect a call on Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoon they called us with the official offer. Wow!

After about 3 or 4 negotiation calls back and forth, we arrived at a deal. Yesterday afternoon (Monday) we both signed the papers for a buy/sell agreement. The closing can be scheduled any time between August 17 and 30. Can you imagine any arrangement or sequence of events that could have been more perfect?

Of course, like any deal, we wish we could have made a little more profit. But when something like this happens, it is no time to be greedy. I can imagine us holding out for some more money and then being upset with God 3 months from now about Him not taking care of our housing issues.

So Joel...what's the point?

For many of our friends and family at Faith Church they immediately saw this as a sign that the Gorveattes have in fact heard from God and are following his will. Tracy and I don't exactly see it that way. We know many people who have answered the same kind of calling, only to deal with months or years of financial complications because their homes did not sell. I don't think that those people were being any more or less obedient than we are being. Three months from now, if our home had not sold, it would not have changed our conviction that we have been faithful to God's leading.

Tracy thinks that perhaps the immediate sale of our home is not as much about providing affirmation in our hearts (we've had that for the last few weeks)... perhaps this is what God needed to do to give assurance to His people. Perhaps this is to calm the fears of those who wonder what might happen at Faith Church. Perhaps this is a tangible reminder that God is in control and that He fully intends to bless the future of this church.

On the other hand, for Tracy and me it also marks a point of no returning. I remind you again that we have not received the official invitation from the members of First Wesleyan Church in Tuscaloosa, AL. I have been receiving emails from and hearing rumors of many people who aren't so sure about "this Joel-guy". It must seem strange for them to hear about all this stuff going on in Michigan, when they have not even yet had the chance to cast their vote.

My main prayer is just that all of God's children would listen for His guidance. There seems to be a method behind all of this madness. And even if the people of First Wesleyan decide they don't want us, there is a peace in our hearts. I keep repeating the phrase over and again: "Following God is seldom easy, but it is always worth it."

We are anxiously anticipating our visit to Alabama this weekend. And I have to admit... even though it feels like a blind date and we know that we'll be poked, prodded, questioned, and evaluated while spending a few intense days under the spotlight... there is also a growing sense of excitement.

Would God shake us up and turn our whole world upside down for no good reason? I don't think so. We're trusting that years from now everyone will look back and say, "What an amazing God we serve, who knows how to do things greatly in his own perfect time!"

Can you imagine what possibilities the future might hold?