Several months ago, Janet and I did something that we never really thought we would do again. We made an offer on a new house – well, new to us but not new in the box if you know what I mean. In order to understand this decision, it is important to rewind the clock almost 13 years when we bought the home we are currently in. I was in seminary, we were living off weddings and funerals as I attended school full time and the kids had all left home to start their own lives. We figured a downsized home was just the ticket and as we look back on the time we have lived here, we have been very happy. So happy that we never thought we would ever move out – but I guess that wasn’t the plan.
Late last fall Janet and I both had the itch to look at other properties that may give us more room and amenities than we have here. After all, as you already know, this year, and every year, is the “Year of the Family” and we both felt it was time to invest in something that was more of a “gathering place” than our current home. All four grandsons are getting older and we would like to have the space for them to stay more frequently and have rooms of their own. Likewise, I have missed having a workshop and home office – and there are other things on our wish list that we would like to have in a “perfect” world.
Well, much to our surprise, the opportunity presented itself in late November – we committed to purchase a home about a mile from where we currently live. The seller is a spry older gentleman, Carl, who is 81 and built the home with his wife 10 years ago. Unfortunately, he is now alone and after a period of adjustment, finally knew the time had come to downsize his home. The timing for everyone was just perfect and we closed on the property almost two weeks ago. Carl asked to live there for several additional weeks and we readily agreed. In more than 40 years of dealing with buying and selling homes, this has been the most pleasant experience we have ever had.
Not only has Carl gone above and beyond what he needed to do, he has been a great representative of the kingdom of God in the process. Carl is an engineer by trade and as you can probably guess, he really took care of the place. Today was the day that we met early this morning and he turned over the keys of his beloved home to me. He showed me every light switch, upgrade and personal touch he had built into the place. You could just see the pride with which he designed and built their house. I won’t bore you with all the details but he did replace all the exterior door locks and handles for me because they were tarnished and he wanted us to start out in our new home the way he had – with brand new hardware. What a guy – people accuse me of being nuts about taking care of stuff – and Carl is my hero.
I really hope that we will stay in touch. This whole experience has been something that I could only hope would become more commonplace in our world. Carl is staying in the area and I know that my life has been made richer through meeting him. Tomorrow we start the process of getting ready to move – that happens late next week. In the meantime, we intend to go over in the morning and pray that this home will be a sanctuary and a place that will promote the kingdom of God. I can hardly wait for the spring and for our Bible study to begin in this new location.
When I think of Carl turning over the keys, I am reminded of a verse in Matthew 16. After Peter proclaims that Jesus is the Christ, the Living God, Jesus acknowledges that Peter learned this from the revelation of God. He then talks about building His church and then Jesus tells Peter, in Matthew 16:19, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In other words, Jesus entrusted great things to Peter’s care. My encouragement this evening is that God has entrusted all sorts of things with great value to our care, as followers of Jesus Christ. My prayer is that you will be a good steward of the resources that have been entrusted to you and that you will be the kind of ambassador that Carl has been – even as he realized that the time had come for him to “turn over the keys” to something that he had been taking care of for the past decade. Thank you, Carl, for being such a wonderful witness. And to all of you, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…