Temporary Housing Situation
by Jesse Prentiss
King David in the Old Testament knew a lot about moving. He went from a sheep pen to the palace in his life time. Psalm 142 was written in one of King David's temporary housing situations: a cave.
Maybe my rental on Applewood Ave was not so horrible after all?! My chicken scratch in my Bible's margin reads, "Exactly the way I feel! End of February 2009 transition to MI from OH." This is how I felt in my temporary housing situation. Maybe you can relate and find hope in these timeless words written from one of the worst temporary housing situations in history:
I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord's mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my trouble. For I am overwhelmed... (Psalm 142:1-3a NLT)
Overwhelmed was an understatement
I had an active 2 & 4 year old. I hadn't wanted to move and we were in the middle of the national housing market drop. Nothing was easy. I, in my little blue duplex rental, poured out my complaints to God. I cried and pleaded as David once did in the cave.
...and you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me." (Psalm 142:3b)
I knew God had a plan, but my eyes were too blurry with tears to see it. Enemies were all around me enticing me to take up a "temporary housing situation" instead of residing with God. Enticing me to live in worry about taking a big loss on the house. Inviting me to live a lie to my friends and family on how I was really feeling. Convincing me to live in silent bitterness towards my husband who was wrapped up in work. I fell into the traps of binge-reading novels while letting the kids watch TV all day, drinking alcohol just enough to dull the pain, and pouring hours into Facebook. TV, reading, food and drink, social media are all fine places to visit but we are not meant to live there. They are enjoyments of life, not life sources.
I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me. (Psalm 142:4)
I hid a lot of what I was feeling then
I didn't realize how normal the feelings of grief, loss of identity, and insecurity were to a mover. I didn't realize that I needed to unpack my emotions as well as moving boxes. I did not want to worry anyone, yet I began to resent people for not realizing I was hurting. I also thought, since I was the new girl, people should initiate with me, but that often wasn't the case. I hoped that, once I was out of my temporary housing situation, these problems would evaporate but they just compounded.
Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, "YOU ARE MY PLACE OF REFUGE. YOU ARE ALL I REALLY WANT IN LIFE. (Psalm 142:5)
David was homeless and felt friendless but he wasn't hopeless. From the belly of a dark cave, David realized that God Himself was his place of refuge. God dwells in our hearts when we invite him in. If He is our home and he makes his home in us, that is the ultimate eternal housing situation. Then it doesn't matter where we live―in a cave or a blue duplex―everything is temporary housing until we abide with Him. He is all we need.
We spent countless hours touring homes, scouring the websites and attending open houses in search of what we really wanted in a house. A life with God is like finding your dream home, it's everything you want and need to live.
Hear my cry, for I am very low. (Psalm 142:6a)
Too often we try to handle things on our own and turn to God as a last resort when all else fails. We get low on energy and hope and, like a car low on gas, we begin to sputter and risk quitting before we finally fill up the tank. I challenged myself to read a psalm a day in my temporary housing situation and the words became like fuel for me, to make it a little further each day towards my eternal home.
Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. Bring me out of prison so I can thank you. (Psalm 142:6b-7a)
For David, I am sure there were days when that cave felt more like a cell than a refuge. I felt like a prisoner locked into that temporary housing situation, waiting for our house to sell, to buy a new one, to build a new community. It felt impossible to settle until I was free of the temporary housing situation. However the prison was in my mind, not realizing those things can't effect my contentment, joy, and peace when I trust and abide in God. I began to find things to thank God for even in that temporary living situation and it was key to unlocking my chains.
The godly will crowd around me, for you treat me kindly. (Psalm 142:6-7)
Jesse Prentiss is first and foremost a child of God. She has been married to Jared Prentiss since 2000 and they are blessed with a son and daughter. She still calls Michigan home, where she was born and raised, and lived in Ohio for most of her married life. Her husband’s corporate moves have relocated them several times before their latest stop in Georgia. She received her first copy of After the Boxes Are Unpacked in 2001 as a gift and has gone on to help lead the study based on this book in Ohio and in Texas. Follow her blog at https://movetoprosper.wordpress.com/
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