14th Feb, 2010

Hol(e)y Foxes and Wise Guys

One thing that has been on my heart lately is a question of how we (the Riley family) should handle our finances. Over a year ago, perhaps two or so years ago, I knew God was telling me to get out of debt, even the mortgage on our home in Arkansas. Of course, we had our house up for sale as we had quit our jobs and become full-time missionaries with Youth With A Mission, a group that is 100% volunteer and each of its members have to raise support to be able to do the work. So, the thought seemed very rational.

Even though our house didn’t sell for quite some time, last summer it finally sold and we were completely debt free. It was a wonderful feeling. And I felt convicted we were to remain debt free unless and until God said otherwise.

I’ve been thinking and praying about that conviction more lately because the housing market here has taken one of the hardest hits of anywhere in the United States. It has made it more easy to rationalize “investing” by borrowing to purchase a home.

Against that backdrop I had a most interesting conversation today, and it was one of those moments where I felt confident that God was speaking to me through another person. Two of my kids had baseball games today and at the first game I saw a guy I play ultimate Frisbee with on Sunday evenings. His son was on the opposing team. We began talking about our families and what our “day jobs” are as we’ve never had those discussions on the ultimate field.

As it turns out he is familiar with the University of the Nations here in Kona because he grew up here and had friends from the campus. He also is a real estate appraiser and a follower of Jesus. I told him I had been tempted recently to look into buying given the market here and how it appeared to be a great investment opportunity. He then said something I didn’t expect at all from a real estate person.

“I’ve been thinking more and more that Christians need to rent and not own. If we really want to be free to do whatever God asks of us at any time we need to be unshackled by huge mortgages and free to go on short- or long-term missions anytime God calls us to do so.”

I have thought those very words before in my context, but rarely have I uttered them. As he said them I immediately thought of something our Lord and Savior once said to someone who declared they would follow Him:

Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.

Matthew 8:20

I’m not claiming that verse has universal applicability (is normative), but I’m hearing those words more and more for our family. If God says, “Go to Haiti and help,” I need to be prepared to do so. If He asks of me, “Go to a country that I will show you,” as He did of Abraham, I want to have Abraham’s faith to go, even without knowing where I am going, and be unfettered by financial debt.

What a life Jesus led. The History Maker of all eternity, yet He had no home. I choose to follow Him and His ways. Perhaps this is just one manifestation of that for us.

Responses

Hey Brian! Long time, no talk … or comment. I haven’t been able to just sit for a very long time and catch up on some of my favorite blogs, yours being one of them. I’ve been pouring over them tonight as I sit in South Asia … and this is the post that just seemed natural to comment on. For the first time in our 18 years of marriage, as of last May, we became debt free. There is a freedom that I have always heard about regarding debt free living, but you can’t really get it until you live it. I love, Love, LOVE this post, especially the verse you quoted. Renting rather than buying goes against everything the world says, but brother, you hit it on the head with this one. I, too, am not suggesting it’s for everyone, but for our family as we serve the Lord, we need to be able to be ready to go, wherever it is that He says to go.

Hope all is well in Riley-land. Look forward to doing a little better job keeping up with you guys and praying God’s perfect will for your lives.

Blessing,
Steve

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