The Beach House
By Eric Vogen
Have you ever wondered to yourself: “Does God care about which house I buy, how I allocate resources, or which investments I make?”
More importantly, are you willing to trust God with the answer? If the answer is yes, get ready to let God guide your life with these types of decisions.
Friends of mine, whom I will call the “adventurous couple,” recently visited a beautiful Caribbean resort where they have vacationed during the winter for years. This annual event has become an important family tradition and seems to help shorten a very cold and dreary season. Since they own a very successful business, each year they would dream of the possibility of owning a beach house there.
Two years ago while on vacation, the couple attended an open house and thought with excitement, “We could we own this!” They began the process of researching all the necessary details for purchasing a home. With real estate values significantly lower than a few years ago, but on the verge of turning upward, they considered that now might be the perfect time to buy a beach home as an investment and as a place to continue to build treasured family memories.
During the process, the following scripture came to my friend’s mind:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV).
He shared the scripture with his wife and family members who were with them on that vacation. The family joked about how the beach house seemed to be a treasure that “moths and rust” could destroy. The joking continued, including the discovery of a very large moth in the bathroom – considered a sign from God.
When the couple returned from the vacation, they put all joking aside and seriously began to consider purchasing the beach house. This time, they invited Jesus to lead them in making this lifestyle and financial decision. As they continued with the process, they discovered four guiding principles that ultimately gave them assurance that they had made the right decision.
First, they continued searching scripture for applicable wisdom and knowledge. Of course they already had the one significant scripture from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Although this scripture directed them away from buying a beach home, many scriptures seemed to support the purchase. In fact, later in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” We are certainly free in Christ to pursue many dreams. But it is important to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit while searching the Bible and not just try to find a scripture to justify our desires.
Second, they sought direction through Godly counsel from Christian mentors and financial advisors. It would be important to know if they could afford buying and maintaining this beach house and if it would make some financial sense. The current price and appreciation potential was attractive. The maintenance and tax costs could be justified by avoiding future resort fees and being an owner would give them the ability to rent out the house to others. They didn’t need to incur debt for this purchase, but if they did need a mortgage, the interest rates were attractive. It made financial sense. So, could this decision just simply be about making a good investment?
Third, they felt like Jesus was leading them to search their conscience about this specific situation. Were they called to provide this wonderful place for family and friends to come to rejuvenate, worship, and fellowship? Could this be a profitable investment that could provide greater resources and charitable gifts? The “treasures in heaven” scripture kept coming to mind. They discussed this further and felt like there were some other variables to consider. Would the cost and time of the beach house ownership end up crowding into other important parts of their lives?
The more deeply they searched their conscience, the more they found the Holy Spirit acting as an inner witness to light up their passion for giving to the following areas:
• Supporting their church and the church’s mission.
• Loving their family and seeing their children mature into who God created them to be.
• Serving the most critical needs of the poorest of the poor.
• Creating/preserving/managing opportunities for their businesses and for those struggling in their community.
They thought, “What would happen if we used the resources it would take to buy and maintain the beach house and instead, use this money toward substantially increasing our charitable giving?”
These questions and the potential purchase of a beach home were still under consideration when they visited the Caribbean the following year. One day, they left their beach resort room and entered the elevator to go to lunch. Just then, they experienced what they described as a circumstantial confirmation. In the resort’s elevator, a huge moth swirled above their heads. They just looked at each other and laughed, knowing that God was reinforcing what he had first indicated with scripture from Matthew 6 the year before.
This story illustrates the fourth way Jesus lead this couple, creating certain circumstances related to decision making. The moth was a great tangible circumstance that spoke specifically to this couple. When they returned home to the United States, they noticed another incident seemingly related to the process. Their stock investments had grown to new highs, likely exceeding any potential appreciation of the beach house.
These four guiding principles were enough for the adventurous couple to pass on buying the beach house. Instead, they decided to focus on increasing their annual charitable giving goal to high six figures, and they immediately used their stock gains to help meet this giving goal for the year.
Maybe God is interested in guiding some of your life decisions. How can you respond?
• Pick up your cross and follow Jesus by accepting His call. How do you discern a call? American writer and theologian Frederick Buechner once said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
• Plan daily actions in your schedule, which may lead to treasures in heaven.
• Test your big decisions with four guiding principles:
1. Search the word of God.
2. Seek Godly counsel.
3. Listen to your conscience – the inner witness of the Holy Spirit.
4. Take notice of circumstances around you.
Our adventurous couple wanted to share this to encourage you: “We hope our story helps others deal with the things that crowd in our lives and choke out the seed.”
“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:8 NIV)
If you found this article helpful or if you would like help refining your financial decision-making process, I would love to hear your feedback. Contact me at [email protected]