A while back, when the economy was robust, I got sidetracked. It wasn't drugs, it wasn't sex, but it was money. I fell in love with a yellow cottage in an upscale development surrounded by a white picket fence. This development beat anything in the area, with a sparkling pool in the middle of a beautiful patio from which you could gaze at boats passing to and fro in the channel on their way to Lake Michigan. I didn't buy it to live in but as an investment. I figured I could rent it out on a weekly basis in the summer, helping to pay the mortgage. The stock market had been a treacherous environment for some years. Why not diversify and put some money into real estate? So I did.

This decision wouldn't have been so bad except that I did it even though I had a check in my spirit, a niggling feeling that this wasn't what God wanted me to do with my money. I prayed about it, hoping the feeling would fade. But it didn't. Yet I felt sure that anyone familiar with the development would congratulate me for making an astute investment.

So I went ahead with the purchase. Shortly after that, the stock market collapsed and the real estate market plunged to levels that hadn't been seen since the Great Depression. The tidy profit I had envisioned from selling the property in a few years' time began looking more like a significant loss. I felt the weight of it daily.

What had seemed like God's disapproval when I was considering the purchase began to look much more like God's concern. He hadn't given me peace about buying the property because he knew exactly what lay ahead. What if, instead of trying to kill my joy, the Lord had been trying to preserve it, knowing that owning this property would not add to my sense of peace and security but subtract from it?

It's embarrassing to disclose this episode in my life. I'd rather not write about it. But it's such a good illustration of what happens when we ignore the promptings of the Spirit. If you suspect God of being a Grinch or a killjoy, it will be difficult to follow when he heads off in a direction you don't want to go. But if you know the kingdom of God is about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17), why wouldn't you want to listen?

Originally published November 05, 2019.