In the summer of 1998, I rented two rooms (one for my son, the other for me) in the attic of a friend's house. My plan was to save enough money for a down payment to purchase a house or a condo. At that time rent and housing costs were soaring through the roof. There was no way I could save for a place of our own while living on our own. So this seamed like the wise thing to do.
The house we moved into was a farmhouse on 36 acres of land. It wasn't very appealing to the eye. Do any of you remember the TV sitcom "Sanford and Son" that aired around 15 to 20 years ago? Well…yeah, enough said. However, the rent was cheap and I knew this living arrangement was temporary. My friend had started renovations to the house but they stopped shortly after we moved upstairs. My friend assured me that the furnace was on its way, ordered and about to be shipped. I didn’t think much about it at the time, due to the fact we were in the middle of the heat of summer. A few months went by and my savings account was growing.
In October, while attending church service, my pastor's wife introduced a man and his wife to the congregation. They were visiting our church from the Philippines. They have been serving the Lord in full time ministry all of their adult life. I would say that they were probably in their mid to late 50s. My pastor and his wife have known this couple for many years. My pastor's wife went on to explain that this couple have given their life to the service of the Lord but have never owned their own house. She said that they were living in a house that didn't have a kitchen. They cooked on a grill outside. She said that they are very hospitable and have people over to their house often for meals.
As she was saying these things, I thought to myself, "We are a blessed people here in the United States of America. I am barely 30 years old and saving to purchase my own home, while these people in their mid to late 50s, have given their life for the gospel's sake, and have never owned their own home. That's just not right!" The Lord was already preparing my heart.
My pastor's wife announced that our church was going to take an offering to give to this couple for a down payment to purchase their own house. As she said this, I heard the Lord clearly speak to me, "If you help them get into their house, I will get you into your house." I looked in my wallet at my savings account balance. I had saved $1,325.00 towards the down payment for my own house. I wrote a check for the whole amount and put it in the offering for this couple's down payment. I was excited that I did the right thing.
Shortly after that day, my living arrangement turned sour. The weather was getting colder and the furnace hadn't arrived. I borrowed an electric space heater from work to heat my bedroom. As the weather got colder, the sounds of the mice running around in the roof got louder. Actually, I never heard them before when it was warm outside. I assume they were finding shelter from the cold.
I told some of my friends about the problem. They assumed that I might have saved enough money to get my own place by now. I shared about the offering I gave to the couple at church. Some of my friend's questioned if I had really heard God. Some thought it was a stupid thing to do.
The mouse problem started getting really bad. One day, I found a dead one on the kitchen floor. I thought, "I've got to get out of this place!!" I knew that if I moved, I would never be able to save up for a place of my own. I also knew the promise that the Lord spoke to me, "If you help them get into their house, I will get you into yours." The last straw was when I was awakened in the middle of the night with a tiny mouse crawling on my arm. YUCK!! That was just the kick in the pants that I needed!
The next day, I was counting the cost of renting an apartment, paying for utilities, etc. I found a place that I could barely afford. I would have approximately $25.00 left over after bills and living expenses. It was going to be tight but doable. My question was whether I should sign a 6, 9, or 12-month lease. I didn’t want to tie myself to an apartment, but I knew with the housing market the way it was at that time, when my lease came up to be renewed, I would surely get popped with a rent increase. With $25.00 leeway that could be disastrous. I also knew that I had seed planted into good soil and a promise from God. After talking with a pastor from my church it was clear to me that I should sign a 6 month lease. We, my son and I, moved into our apartment in December.
I have a friend who is a mortgage agent. She called me in the month March with a great new mortgage loan. It was a fixed 7.25% with no down payment and no closing fees. She got all of my information and checked out my credit. When she got back to me she informed me that she could loan me $110,000 with a $925.00 monthly payment. I told her, "That's not going to work. First, I can't find a decent condo for $110,000 never mind a house, and secondly, I only pay $835.00 for rent right now with only $25.00 left over to spare." So she said she would look to see if she could find something else that would work. She found a special loan for me. It is called a Farm loan. It is a rare lone for houses purchased in rural areas. It is meant to encourage people to populate unpopulated areas. My friend had to refer me to another mortgage agent that is familiar with processing this type of loan.
Well, to cut to the chase, I was approved for $146,000 with a $816.00 monthly payment at a fixed 6.75% rate, with no down payment. I purchased an 1100 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath rambler style house with a 2 car garage, a fireplace, and gas heat. Get this; it was being built when I purchased it in a brand new community. I got to pick out the paint, cupboards, countertops, carpet, and vinyl flooring!! To top it all off, I moved in the exact same day that my 6 month lease was over!
Do you think that all of this is a tremendous miracle? Well, there's more! I was able to add the closing costs to the price of the house so that the buyer would pay the closing costs. When all was said and done, I got into my house with ZERO down and received a refund check for $500.00!! I also had a month before I had to pay my first mortgage payment!!
Isn't God sooo good! He is a promise keeper! He also blesses beyond our expectations! He is truly worthy of our obedience and our trust. His love towards is larger than we could ever fathom. And it is His goodness towards us that lead us to repentance and draws us closer to Him. (Rom 2:4) We love Him because He first loved us! (1John4:19) Would I love Him if He didn’t do anything good for me? Yes, of course! He is my God, my Lord, my Savior! But He is also the Lover of my Soul, a good God, giving, generous, and kind. To not understand that side of who He is -- is to miss out on an incredible love that this world will never offer you.
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