Saturday, June 09, 2007

the fingerprint of God

recently, we spent a week looking for a new home in the seattle area — ideally, somewhere near renton, where God willing, we will be planting a new church. it was a warm, sunny week in the northwest, and we were treated like royalty. we stayed with a friend from the lighthouse, in the kind of home that gets featured in magazines. the food was abundant and delicious. people welcomed us warmly. and we looked at houses. lots of houses.

the time felt productive from the beginning, as some things became clear early. we got an idea of the size of home we wanted, and roughly, of the location. we agreed that we wanted a home that was big enough to host lots of people, but that it needed to be close enough to the plant site for the church that people would actually come visit; no use having a huge, empty home. we figured out which schools in the area we preferred to avoid, and got an idea of where we might want b and n to go. we discovered, not surprisingly, that homes are consistently more expensive in the assignment areas for the better schools, or the closer they are to bellevue. and late in the week, we learned that the school maps we'd been using (downloaded from the district website!) weren't accurate; the district has changed the boundaries, starting next year. but even when calling official sources, we were getting some wrong information about which schools the girls would attend if we bought a particular home! thankfully, the new maps were available online (though not in an obvious place).

over the first six days of looking (we took a rest on sunday), we saw over 40 homes, mostly in renton and kent (the area just to the south). our typical pattern is that m has an idea of what she's looking for (how big, how many spaces, where people will fit, are the spaces open, well-lit, flowing?) while i am usually more focused on external factors (accessibility, neighborhood, school assignment, re-sale potential). m tends to compare to the ideal and knows when she's not looking at it; i try to figure out how to make a particular home work for us. those concerns and approaches are complementary, and it's not hard to see how we might help each other — or run into a conflict here and there!

we looked at everything in our price range within about four days, and couldn't find what we were looking for. i began to think that we might need to extend that range a little bit, so as to increase the pool of available options. and in fact, raising the bar on our purchase price allowed the agent to find more homes for us to consider, a couple of which looked (to my pragmatic eye) like they might be possible fits for us. then on sunday at church, a couple even offered to sell us their home for what we could afford — a very generous offer, considering the house was well out of our price range — but it wasn't really a fit. we were, however, struck by God's reminder that he could provide for us in unexpected ways. so at that point, we were encouraged and had some possibilities, but it was clear that neither of us really wanted those homes; they just looked like they could be workable compromises — an idea that typically sits better with me than it does with m.

at the end of the week, m could sense my impatience and made it clear that she was willing to make an offer on one or two of the homes we had seen. after what started as a difficult conversation, i tried to communicate that i didn't want her to have to settle. but with a day to go, i could feel myself wishing that she'd just pick one. she felt that God would give us what we asked for; we just needed to keep asking and seeking. i was persuaded, but not by much.

on the morning of the day we were scheduled to leave, i was busy planning an alternate strategy (rent for a while, get rid of a bunch of our things and find a place to store the rest, etc) when m asked me to look on the internet one more time to find some new homes to look at. i was not very enthusiastic, so she did the looking herself. she did find one for us to look at, but since the agent had found a few homes (because prices appeared to be falling in that area; they never even would've appeared in our search earlier in the week, as they were out of our price range), we elected to take a look at those. all of them were located in one of those areas that used to service a less-desirable school, but had been switched into the 'best' school in the district. they were also a short distance to the freeway, and about 10 minutes from renton.

the first home we saw that morning was pretty good size, well-lit, and nicely landscaped. it had some nice rooms and a place for a deck. it even had a view (one of the things m thought God might throw in as a bonus). i liked it. m liked it. and so, after looking at a couple of more houses in that neighborhood, we decided to make an offer. while we packed, our agent put it together and later that afternoon, she explained it to us. by writing the offer creatively, she was able to offer the sellers almost their asking price, while keeping us within about $4,000 of our original price. after that, we loaded our luggage into the car, and headed to the airport. but en route, our agent stopped by the house to present our offer to the seller, while we walked the neighborhood. after what seemed like an eternity, she came back out with a smile on her face. not only had the seller accepted the offer, they had discovered a clerical error in our favor. the $4,000 that was removed from the offer price left us at exactly our original price point. amazing!

in the fingerprint of God, christian astronomer hugh ross examines the evidence for the existence of God from what we see in the cosmos. primarily, he calls attention to the various ways in which our universe seems perfectly fine-tuned to support life — as if someone designed it with us in mind. when i look at all of the things that are falling into place in our search for a house, i also see a similarly finely-tuned process, one that no doubt has us in mind. the fingerprint of God, indeed.

can a woman forget her nursing child
and have no compassion on the son of her womb?

even these may forget,
but I will not forget you.

behold, i have inscribed you
on the palms of my hands

isaiah 49:15-16


marguerite said...

what a great story! what a beautiful house! praise God for His provision. (what town will you be in? where will naomi go to school?)

gr8god said...

hi marguerite,

thanks for your comment. it really has been an amazing story so far, and we do praise God!

as for your questions, look for my answers in e-mail. i'm careful about putting certain kinds of info on a public website… (better safe than sorry)