Focus: Going the extra mile

Psalm 119:67-68 (NKJV) Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your Word. You are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes.

Our house is on the market. We’ve lived here for about eleven years and it’s been an interesting journey. We bought the house when it wasn’t for sale. We wanted to be in this neighborhood, so we knocked on every door and left notes asking people to contact us if they were interested in selling.

The house we now live in was owned by a single mom, who still had one son living at home. The first time I talked to her, she told me the reasons why she couldn’t sell it.

  • At the time, interest rates were between eight and nine percent on mortgages…she was only paying six percent interest on her loan. I saw that as a pretty big hurdle, but I knew God could do anything.
  • Her son was in the eleventh grade and she didn’t want to uproot him while he was still in high school.
  • The house needed a lot of work.
  •  She had bought the house for a low price and figured what she could sell it for wouldn’t allow her to get something as good as what she already had.

These were all valid reasons. I asked her if she minded if I checked back with her in a few months and she said, “Okay.” So, I started praying for God to help her overcome her objections, if we were supposed to buy it.

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I called her back every few months for more than a year. She was very cordial, but still not interested in selling. I always asked if I could check back with her, and she always said, “Okay”…so I did.

After about a year, I showed up at her door with a sales contract. I still had never been in the house, but it didn’t matter to me what it looked like inside—since I knew we’d tear it all apart and put it back together anyway. I stood outside getting eaten by mosquitoes as she looked at our offer and then turned it down. I asked if I could check back with her and she said, “Okay.”

In the meantime, interest rates started dropping and finally fell below the rate she had on her mortgage. Her son graduated. We raised our offer a few times. And then someone wanted to buy the house we owned, so we really needed to nail something down. There weren’t any other houses for sale in the neighborhood that I was interested in.

I called her on the phone one night and said we’d increase our price again. I told her we were going to have to buy something soon and we’d really like to buy her house. She mentioned that she didn’t have the money to do the repairs it needed. I said, “No one is ever going to offer you as much as we are (we were significantly above market value on our current offer) and not ask you to do one thing to the house—I had still never been inside it. I was praying with my hand lifted to heaven and my eyes pinched shut during the long silence that followed. She finally said, “Okay.”

I had created a new sales contract with the amount we were willing to pay. I asked her if I could stop over with a deposit and have her sign the agreement. She agreed, and I showed up at her door in a very short time. After she signed the contract, I asked her if I could walk through the house. It was pretty much as I expected it would be. Every door was either dented or punched through—all but one tiny window needed to be replaced. Faucets and toilets needed work, but I didn’t care at all.

She ended up buying a nice condo on Sarasota Bay and we started all over again in our little house in the country. I can’t go into great detail about all we did here, but it was a massive remodel. The little cement block house became a small castle of sorts as we re-did everything and added on 2,700 square feet of living space, plus a three stall garage.

Today, I was painting a door that needed to be freshened up and doing other ‘little stuff’. We had a painter here, who we had hired to do the ‘bigger stuff’. We were talking and he told me that most people wouldn’t do all that we’re doing to the house at this point. He’s right. But, I’ll continue to polish it up even after we have a contract and until the day we walk away from it, because that’s what I think Jesus would do. To me, it’s not about doing what I can get away with—it’s about doing a good job—one that would please Him…and I’ll do the same thing on my next house.

I enjoy restoring houses because it reminds me of the massive work God had ahead of Him when I finally said, “Okay” to Him. He has never stopped working on me and I know He will keep on polishing me until my last day on earth.

Declaration: I will find new strength by going the extra mile in all I do. Not for praise, but because that’s what Jesus would do. I will live by Psalm 119: 67-68 and do my best to keep God’s Word and live by His statutes.

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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.


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