It is not that I ever “stopped” trusting God. There was no cataclysmic event that made me shake my fist and turn my back. But as with most things, the path toward maturity is a spiral: we go up, we slip back around, we go around and up again, and find there is something new about which we can to trust God. Or something new to learn about whatever area of life in which we are growing. Life is full of cycles.

My cycle of learning to trust God has had many upward spirals so far. Trusting with friendships, trusting for funds for mission trips, trusting for my school bill to be paid, trusting that the job I didn’t get wasn’t the one I was supposed to have, trusting that God had someone for me to marry, then learning to trust God in the vulnerable process of loving that person. Trusting God with my kids, with my livelihood, to take that step to start college again, to move to Oregon from the Los Angeles area, trusting God to lead ministry, and bring restoration in my church… always there is some new challenge in life in which we get to learn how to trust God.

The current cycle for me has something to do with buying a house.

A couple of years after we were married we bought a condo, which in the Los Angeles area is your main “starter home” option. Having grown up on the Oregon coast, I thought condos were only retirement or vacation homes, but no, in a metropolitan area like Los Angeles, lots of people live in condos and townhomes. However, we bought just before the real estate bubble burst, and when we moved from California, we sold our condo in a short-sale, because we owed more than $100,000 more on our place than what we were able to sell it for. That process brought me through a lot of interesting conversations with God, and I learned a lot about how differently God views finances and the economy.

I thought I’d made peace with that disappointing situation… and yet… as we have been trying now to re-enter the world of home ownership, many things are again coming to the surface. I wasted some time in self-pity and lamentation over our basically starter-home budget but bigger-home needs (we do have four kids after all!), and the injustice of it all… as if I am somehow disadvantaged compared to millions of people around the world who live in much more difficult and cramped quarters than do I. However, self-pity aside, finally we found a place we wanted to buy, and we settled on a price, and entered the jubilant world of escrow. (If you have ever been involved in buying a home you will detect my sarcastic use of “jubilant.”)

We were set to close on May 27, but about ten days before that date, as we were well on the way toward packing and had already given notice to our current landlords, it became clear that there were several rather big issues that would need to be resolved before we could go forward, and a May 27 close date would not be happening, if we did even get the house at all.

As I sat among my boxes and contemplated having nowhere to go by our May 31 final move-out date, we almost had no choice but to laugh at the situation. At least, that seemed like a better thing to do than panic.

After a few more calls and emails, our landlords were able to allow us to stay in the house indefinitely (fortunately the potential new tenant had already made other plans!), and we thankfully did not need to find a temporary living space, or rush to find something else to rent or buy. So that is good! And staying in our current home at least through the end of the school year will also be easier. Additionally, since I ended up preaching at my church for the last three weeks, I am very thankful that I wasn’t moving in the midst of that, since preaching isn’t one of my routine roles at church.

We still don’t know what will happen, and we have started looking at other possibilities in the area. Remarkably, we are actually mostly pretty calm about all of this. I am trusting that God is working things out for us. We may not yet know exactly what that means, but I know I can trust God! And when I place my trust in God, and not in the success of a particular scenario, my trust is secure.

At this point, there is basically one issue to resolve, and what happens there is completely out of our hands. Either God is going to do something amazing, and we’ll get the house …or our chapter there is over, and we move on. I think my husband and I are to the point that we’ll be okay with either scenario. If we don’t get it, I think I will be a little sad, but I have to trust that God knows something I don’t know, and sees a future I don’t yet know how to imagine. This is how it always is when I look back on my life walking with Jesus.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see” (NLT).

If I place my confidence in a particular scenario, or a particular house, there will be times that I question the validity of this verse. I can recite a mantra of confident assurance that we will get this house, and it will be amazing and meet all the hopes and expectations that drew us to try to buy it. But the fact is, though I have felt peace in everything we did in making the offer, moving to that particular neighborhood and school area, etc. etc., I never did hear an unequivocal “YOU WILL GET THIS HOUSE” from God. I know that it meets what we’ve been praying for, and I know how everything has felt about this house compared to other houses we considered. I know that what we have done has been in accordance with the things we have clearly heard God say. But I also know that sometimes God leads us down a particular path, not because what we see at the end of the road is actually our destination, but because moving in that direction will lead us to wherever he does want us to be, and which we can’t see until we get moving.

So where, then, do I place my confident assurance? When my confidence is fixed to a person, or a place, then my hope has to be as transient as people and places are. When I place my confidence in God who will give my family a place to be safe, to blossom, and to extend hospitality, then my hope is secure. I may not like renting, and it may not make the most “financial sense” right now, but God is meeting our current needs for a home. Have things so far gone according to my desires? No. But has God let me down? Absolutely not. Has God remained with me and been faithful to supply all my needs according to His great riches (Philippians 4:19)? Absolutely yes.

Two more verses have been ringing in my head these past days:

“My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth” (Psalm 121 and 124), and “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20).

Sometimes, the solutions to our problems seem impossible. It seems like it will be a miracle if this house works out, but it also seems like it will be a miracle for us to find a comparable house that we can afford. Maybe for you there is a physical illness that seems hopeless, or a job situation that seems to have no apparent solution. Maybe you can’t see how things in your marriage will ever work out, or how your finances or business can make the turn-around your need. And the truth is, if your faith is in the doctor/medicine/boss/spouse/bank/government to solve the problem… you may very well be disappointed. But if your faith is in God, you can trust that things will be okay. God may heal you, or God may take you home. Your spouse may change, or your spouse may leave. You may need to make some drastic changes to your own lifestyle, and you just don’t think that is possible either… If we look at our lives only by what we can see or understand at the moment, then things will often not make sense, and they will often not seem very hopeful.

Buying a house? To me, it is a pretty big thing. To God, it is a little thing. And it may be a very long time before I will be able to look back and understand why things are happening this way. In the meantime, I choose to trust that God sees what I can’t see, and knows what I don’t know, and is working on my behalf for the best possible situation that will line up with everything else that He would like to see happen in my life. And even when the best situation doesn’t happen, I know that God can also make beauty from ashes.

I pray for you, dear friend, facing illness, facing marital struggles, facing financial struggles, facing life decisions when you don’t have all the assurance or information you desire… I pray you can trust in God. God loves you.

“Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith;” and “be confident that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:2 and Philippians 1:6)