The Lord is My Realtor
What happens when God gives clear direction to relocate, but the house doesn’t sell for a couple of years? How does this affect marriage, ministry, and family? In this economy, many couples find themselves in a similar dilemma, with similar questions. Karen Horgan recently went through a long ride on the “relocation roller coaster.” Is it okay for a couple like Karen and her husband—a pastor and wife—to live apart for two years or did they misread God’s will?
JBU: How easy was the decision to move?
KAREN: My husband felt like it was time to make a change, and within a month he was offered a new pastorate ten hours away from our home in Indiana. We knew it had to be of God—the timing was perfect and it happened so fast. In the same way, we were confident God would sell our house right away to the perfect buyer. After all, he was calling us to North Carolina so, of course, he would take care of getting us there.
JBU: How did you handle it when the house didn’t sell right away?
KAREN: Each time the house was shown, I just knew there would be an offer and we would have our buyers. But when that didn’t happen, I was puzzled. Reality wasn’t jiving with my simple and absolute faith that God could and would sell the house regardless of a worsening housing economy. After all, he sees the little sparrow fall. He can certainly sell a house. Why wouldn’t he want me with my husband and settled into ministry in our new church?
JBU: How did you handle the doubts?
KAREN: There were a few times when I yelled at God in my empty house. I worked through the anxiety and doubt by reviewing a page of scripture verses. I changed my prayers to thanking him for how he was going to work it all out. That first summer, I watched a robin build a nest outside our window. I watched her sit on her eggs, and then care for her young. To me, that was a reminder that if God cares enough to provide “housing” for ordinary birds, then he will provide for us. If I had known it would take two years for that provision, I might not have thought that was such a cool story. But the message was still valid—God cared about us.
JBU: Was the housing problem a hindrance to your new ministry?
KAREN: As long as we still owned our home up north, I couldn’t settle in North Carolina. First, I had to live in Indiana some of the year for insurance reasons. Second, our temporary home was small and had limitations. My home is part of my ministry, part of who I am. I couldn’t define my ministry until I was settled in our own home. While back in Indiana, I remember praying about my future ministry in hospitality and bemoaning the fact that I was stuck back in Indiana waiting to sell the house, waiting to move, waiting to serve God. Then I realized I could have ministry where I was and I didn’t have to wait until the situation was ideal. After meditating on 1 Peter 4 where Peter tells us to practice hospitality without grumbling, I realized we can minister to people anywhere, anytime, even if we’re living in two states while trying to sell a house in a worsening housing market. I offered our home to friends from time to time who needed a temporary place to stay. While I didn’t do much ministry in the new place, God continued to use me back in Indiana.
JBU: How did the housing problem affect your marriage—good or bad?
KAREN: Being away from each other for weeks at a time strengthened our marriage. It made us appreciate each other more, and made us more attentive to the other when we were together. It felt like we were courting again. While driving the ten hours south, I looked forward to coming up the hill to his place. In similar anticipation, my husband worked to clean up the house for me. I’d stay for a week or two, then back up to Indiana for a month.
JBU: How are you different today than you were before the For Sale sign went up?
KAREN: Because of the time I had to read, meditate, study, and memorize God’s Word, I grew in my dependence on and love for God’s Word. God used those two years to grow my relationship with Him, to give me opportunity to encourage others, to strengthen our marriage, and….to lower the price of the beautiful mountain home we bought in North Carolina!
JBU: What do you say to couples in a similar situation?
KAREN: Part of what kept me going was the certainty that we were where God wanted us. If you’re sure of that, then you can hang in there, knowing God has a good plan.
- Favorite Scripture: Psalm 119
- Hobbies: Cooking (and eating), singing, writing, acting.
- One fun thing you like to do with your husband: Going out to eat for a weekly “date.”
To Contact Karen:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org