May 21, 2004 - "House for Sale" by Andrea Doudera
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"House for Sale"
by Andrea Doudera
With the baby in my arms I ran to the garage to get the bamboo rake. Our house was up for sale and prospective buyers were on their way. They had just called from the convenience store on the corner. While passing through the kitchen I considered popping some brown-and-serve rolls into the oven. Maybe the homey smell would make our place more appealing. No, it's too hot today, I decided. Besides I didn't have time. The people would be here any minute and my son's toys were still littering the family room floor.
Cradling Erin in one arm, I dragged the rake through our four-inch-deep white shag carpet, fluffing it up. When we had first bought the house three years earlier as naive newlyweds we had thought the lush carpet ideal. But all too soon we discovered that it matted like crumpled toilet paper. Now I raked my way backward out of the living room, dining room and hall, then rushed to pick up Scott's toys.
Our plain, four-bedroom, brick colonial had been up for sale for six months. Every week I placed an ad in the newspaper. I gave tour after tour, playing soft music to drown out the noise from the nearby interstate, to no avail. We didn't get one single offer.
When we put the house on the market, we had decided to list it and sell it ourselves. I had earned my real estate license the year before and thought it would be great experience. Besides, our church had made the decision to raise the money to retire their mortgage and we had committed ourselves to giving the six-percent commission to them. "God will be our real estate agent," my husband, Ralph, had proposed.
"What a wonderful idea!" I responded. God would be getting the extra money; surely he would be interested in a quick sale. The two of us would make a great sales team. I would do the legwork and the Lord would bring the buyers. We'd be partners. But week after week nothing happened. I worked to write better ads, giving more creative sales spiels. I was giving tours, raking the carpet. And God, it seemed, was doing nothing.
Time was running out. We had to move in less than a week. Soon we would have the burden of paying two mortgages, plus the cost of moving, not to mention the money we had promised our church. Erin had colic and I had developed a painful sore on my tongue. When I went to our family doctor he looked at it, determined it was nothing serious, then patted my shoulder in a fatherly way and asked if I was under any stress. I burst into tears.
The doorbell rang. I rushed to welcome the prospective buyers. Showing them through the various rooms, I prayed the baby in my arms wouldn't cry and that two-year-old Scott wouldn't throw any toys out of his playpen. Ten minutes later I was closing the front door behind the uninterested couple. Deeply discouraged, I walked through my neat and shiny house.
"There is absolutely nothing more I can do to sell this house," I said in despair. "Everyone hates it. I give up. We'll just have to declare bankruptcy." Tears trickled down my cheeks and soaked into the baby's white blanket. "God, you know how hard I tried, and the movers will be here in five days."
At that moment I heard the truth of my own words: nothing more I can do . . . how hard I tried. Had I trusted God to do his share? Had I really expected him to bring me a buyer? In my imagination I had pretended he was the senior partner in the deal, but I had never acted that way. In fact, in all my busyness I was hoping to get a big congratulations from the boss. As though he would reward me for not bothering him. I wanted to say I did it all myself.
"Lord," I prayed, "you'll just have to take over. This is too big for me." And that was that.
The next few days were busy with packing for our move, but I felt a new peace. While wrapping glasses in newspaper I realized I had forgotten to place the ad that week. Instead of being irritated, I laughed at my oversight.
The day of the move a cavernous orange van pulled up to the curb. I was trying to keep one step ahead of the movers when the doorbell rang. As I walked through the kitchen I noticed the amazing amount of dust and grime where the refrigerator used to be. Another job to do.
I jerked open the door. An unfamiliar couple stood on the front steps. "We saw the For Sale sign and wondered if we might take a look at the house," the man said.
"Well, the place is a mess and I don't have time to show you around . . . but if you don't mind being on your own, come on in." I waved them around some boxes.
Fifteen minutes later they found me clearing out a closet. "We love this house!" the man exclaimed. "We used to live in this neighborhood and really want to move back."
Had I heard them correctly? They wanted to be in a neighborhood where the yards backed up to the interstate and the noise of semi-trailers woke you up at night? They wanted to live in a house where the air-conditioner intake duct was right above the dining room table? It didn't sink in until the next day when we were signing a sales contract using a packing crate as a desk. At the eleventh hour God had come through.
That fall our church had a mortgage-burning party. I was grateful we had been able to donate our real estate commission, but I was more grateful for the bookmark I had added to my Bible: a four-inch-long strand of white shag carpet. It is the perfect reminder of how God seems to delight in showing us his way when we give up ours.
Andrea Doudera copyright 1997
Andrea lives in Virginia with her family and is a freelance writer. Email her in care of 2TheHeart.
The Letter Box:
Your story was so sweet - I was so touched by your writing of the little bird and it made me go about my day with gratitude. Thank you! Janelle Brayer
"GOD BLESS THIS LITTLE BIRD" was a wonderful story! I love stories about animals, especially ones that show human beings in their best light and this was an outstanding story. Thank you and God bless! Sandy
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