PART FIVE – Moon River to Harvest Haven
The Third Dimension (cont’d)
(More of) The Feast of PENTECOST
At the end of Part Four of wHaT tHe LoRd HaS dOnE wItH mE, we decided Moon River Estates was not for us. Well, look what happened next….
After viewing several homes, Jim said an acreage had just come on the market, which seemed to have the features and conditions to suit our needs. We headed west on the #3 highway.
Several miles out, I asked Jim where the home was. He evaded my question and kept driving until we took a certain turn. “You’re taking us to Moon River!” we said. “Jim, you know we don’t want to live there….”
He said something like, “It has all the conditions you need. You have nothing to lose by looking at it.” We were almost there, so we agreed.
It was a warm, sunny, friendly day on February 22nd, 1988. As we drove up to the property, I was immediately impressed by a new 8” white pine log two-story home. “This certainly is different,” I mused.
When we stepped through the front door, my attention went from the tiled floor entrance to white pine log walls to vaulted and beamed ceilings. As I looked the house over, it seemed to warmly embrace me. I liked it, but more importantly, it liked me – which counts for something if you want a home and not just a house.
Not knowing the price while viewing it, the figure that came to mind was $129,000; Marilyn had the same thought. When Jim told us the price – $109,000 – we were pleasantly surprised. However, I was concerned about real estate values in Moon River and that houses were selling well below value. I also sensed there would be a lot of work to do; the house wasn’t finished, and finishing could be the costly part. Consequently, we decided on a price I was willing to pay in my unbelief, fears, and chintziness, which would cover the outstanding mortgage and the realtor fees the seller would have to pay – $95,000.
As I recollect, we had money for the balance over the assumable mortgage. However, we were now faced with a decision. It had been easy to dream, to look at homes, to toy with the idea of buying, but now there was something more at work – we might have to act. We went home to make a decision.
Meanwhile, Jim was selling. He pointed out to us that it was a unique home, as we wanted, it was an acreage, and it had a sizable assumable mortgage. “I just clocked the travel time and it’s only 20 minutes from Lethbridge,” he asserted. (He didn’t mention he calculated from the edge of Lethbridge to the edge of Moon River, doing 120 kilometers per hour – about 75 miles per hour – where the speed limit was 110 km/hr.)
We took a couple of days to decide. By conviction and principle, we had been living debt-free since 1975. Now we were faced with getting into nearly $90,000 of debt, plus improvements, utilities, taxes, and living rather expensively distant from shopping and social activities. In addition, I had no income to rely on, no job, and no prospects of one. We decided we would be foolish to place ourselves in such a situation.
What in the world were we doing? Having some entertainment at the realtor’s expense? Leading him on when there was no way we should be serious? How fair was that to him?
The problem was I couldn’t say, “No.” To buy would logically constitute an act of madness, and even a disregard of God’s general will for us to stay out of debt, but there we were, contemplating it anyway. We begged the Lord to show us what to do and keep us from doing the wrong thing.
I asked Archie how he felt about it. He thought we should go for it and so did we. We decided to make an offer and, if accepted, there it was. We made the offer, and it was accepted.
We were now the indebted owners of our first home, the twenty-fourth of our married lives, my forty-first personally, counting the two homes in Israel (Habonim and Revivim) and our three trailering stints of ‘81, ‘82, and ‘83-84, which were longer than some of the stays in rented homes.
Thus was the prophecy of 1986 fulfilled: “You will be on the road ministering for a while, and then you’ll have your own home.” We moved in on April 28th and took official possession on April 29th, 1988.
But how to pay? We needed furnishings, landscaping (the yard was basically barren), and living expenses. Had we gone against God in His past guidance to us on staying out of debt? Apparently so, but we knew we had to do what we did, against all reason.
Bill Syme, a schoolteacher, was the former owner and builder of the home. He and his wife, Yvonne, began to build it in 1986, breaking ground on July 10th, the day I had my vision in Stettler, 224 miles from Moon River, of a mare birthing a colt, and the day Marilyn received a word of knowledge of new things to come. We understood it was to have been Symes’ dream home, but it seems they weren’t in agreement on some things. They divorced and, consequently, the home went up for sale.
We didn’t want to live at Moon River and the realtor knew it. Yet it was in his heart to bring us there, regardless. When we entered the home, we couldn’t refuse to buy it, in spite of all the disadvantages to discourage us. We ended up where we didn’t want to be, but in a home we wanted.
“A man’s heart plans his course, but the LORD directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9 HNV).
Who says there is no God?
The Toews basement suite was my eighteenth home, and Marilyn’s and my first home together (18/1). Then came 19/2 – Maurice Chalifour’s basement suite in Prince Albert; 20/3 – Fred and Joyce Meir’s Branion Drive housesit in P.A.; 21/4 – Dave Grier’s country home, P.A.; 22/5 – Bob Curl’s country home near Dauphin, Manitoba; 23/6 – the Thorndale Apts, 1st St. and 2nd Ave, Dauphin; 24/7 – Caruk’s Apartments on Kirby Ave, Dauphin (razed years ago); 25/8 – Habonim, Hof HaCarmel, Israel; 26/9 – Revivim, HaNegev, Israel (refurbished chicken barns that were once homes); 27/10 – Mielke’s at Riverton, Elmwood, Winnipeg; 28/11 – 152 La Verendrye, St. Boniface, Winnipeg; 29/12 – on the road and in campgrounds in our Casa Rolla trailer; 30/13 – Eastglen Motel, Westlock, Alberta; 31/14 – our Casa Rolla again; 32/15 – 45 Meadowlark Blvd, Lethbridge; 33/16 – our Casa Rolla and 24-foot Holiday trailer at the KOA campground in Lethbridge; 34/17 – Bernalillo, New Mexico, USA; 35/18 – KOA Lethbridge in our Holiday trailer; 36/19 – 104 Bluefox Blvd, Uplands, Lethbridge; 37/20 – 68 Laval Court, West Lethbridge; 38/21 – 249 Columbia Blvd, Lethbridge, with Archie; 39/22 – 1720 Ashgrove Blvd, Lethbridge, with Archie; and 40/23 – 5 Queens, West Lethbridge.
Forty homes in all for me, none of them stable or entirely my own, before Marilyn and I owned our first home together. I had served my time in the wilderness of dependence. Now came the second home I ever owned (the first only partly, with Dave Miller) the first Marilyn ever owned, the 41st home, so to speak, of my life, and our 24th together.
Are these numbers significant? I believe everything in the universe is mathematically precise – all objects and actions, matter and energy:
“And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17 MKJV).
We had learned, by principle, not to buy insurance unless it was compulsory. The Alberta Treasury Branch held the mortgage, and Sonya Nicas, a charming lady in charge of the matter, required we have home insurance. Shopping around, we decided on Lloyd’s of London comprehensive coverage with Dadswell-Forster. We dealt with Al Dadswell and, to my surprise, discovered he was dating Yvonne, Bill Syme’s ex-wife, the very lady from whom we were buying the home. Of all the many insurance agents to choose!
Is it a small world, or is it a Big God?
“What if your house burns down?” I hear many ask, not brokers as much as the brain-soiled masses. Has anyone ever bothered to determine the chances of that happening? Let me put it another way: When’s the last time you actually saw a house burning, out of how many houses?
“What about an ‘act of God’? Anything can happen!” Act of God? If God wants to get me, will man’s insurance and my utmost preparations save me? If God wants to protect me, I’d like to see someone differ with Him. I’ve seen it, several times, as you have already red, and will read. Those differing with God never win.
We invited Bill Syme for dinner. I didn’t know whether I had paid too little or too much for the home, especially given the fact homes at Moon River were selling below market or construction value. I thought both ways and couldn’t decide. Was it the Lord Who told us what the home was worth? Were we to pay the figure asked or what we paid?
Even though we hadn’t known Bill, I felt bad for him because of his divorce. It was apparent it grieved him. Our purpose for inviting him was twofold, a gesture of goodwill and an attempt to speak to him about the Lord, with hope it might steer him to life and fulfillment. He was friendly and somewhat open, but not interested in spiritual matters.
The following summer, I saw Bill with his girlfriend at Waterton Lakes National Park. They were on bikes, eating ice cream, both subdued, and Bill seemed to be looking beyond immediate horizons with emptiness and longing.
I got thinking about the marriage break-ups I’ve known since childhood.
When women dump men, the men need to deal with it and get on with their lives. Rarely do women return. Why have I seen so many more divorces wherein the wife leaves her husband, usually leaving him devastated, than the husband leaving his wife? The time would come when I would have my answer.
Bill left behind a little clay plaque hanging on the wall in the entrance, which said, “He that lets the small things bind, leaves the great undone behind.” The author was Piet Hein. There was a picture of someone on his knees on the ground picking pebbles, while someone behind him with wings was flying away with a large boulder.
The message perturbed me for many years. It had a peculiarly pointed application because we eventually landscaped gravel islands in our yard and I found myself constantly picking stones off the grass. And I also weeded the lawn by hand, a tedious job. “Aren’t there far more important things to do?” I would ask myself countless times in the future.
But whether by rationalization or good reason or revelation, I began asking myself some perplexing questions: “What’s great, and what’s small? What’s important, and what isn’t? What’s a waste of time, and what isn’t?”
Claudio Chiste took care of the legal matters for the home purchase, and there turned out to be one peculiar hitch. When examining our property borders and pins, we discovered that the surveyor, Bill Halma, erred in his work for Bill Syme. When we informed Halma his survey certificate was in error, he insisted we should pay him afresh if we wanted to correct the problem.
I was amazed at such chutzpah. He didn’t properly do what he was paid to do, and he wanted to get paid in full to do it again? His objection was that his client was Syme, not me. My objection was that he was obligated to correct the problem. Claudio talked to him, and Halma grudgingly conceded.
How crippling is the power of uncertainty and fear! It can reduce an otherwise mighty man to an emaciated personality fit for little more than to exist.
Ironically the victim is paralyzed effectively by his own power. This makes him practically omnipotent, yet powerless so far as his state is concerned. Nothing can alter this condition but a fiery judgment coming into every man’s existence sooner or later, which either delivers or destroys the wretched soul, depending on his inclination and desire.
All this I saw with Claudio Chiste. My heart went out to him, though perhaps not enough. I wanted so much to help him, but he wasn’t open. I talked to his wife by phone. Having never met me, she was skeptical of me and protective of Claudio. She didn’t know what to make of me or where I was coming from, which was understandable. I’d still help them if I could, but I know I could only do so if the Lord gave it.
Of Claudio, I wrote by revelation:
I see a BOY.
For an acknowledgment and appreciation of himself.
He hungers for love,
Which only a good father could give,
But finds none.
“See, Daddy? See, Daddy?” he exclaims,
Waving his arms wildly.
His daddy ignores him.
Always crestfallen, the boy is unable to cease
Trying to prove, to please.
No matter the greatness of his efforts and accomplishments,
They are not enough.
His countenance tells
Both his effort and his frustration.
I see a SOLDIER.
What an excellent soldier he is!
What awesome weapons he possesses!
All his armament, his physique, and skills
Are to be admired and feared
By friend and foe alike.
But what will he do in
The Firestorm that approaches,
Nay, that is even here?
As the father,
It recognizes no sword;
It laughs at physique
And scoffs at skill and experience.
I see a PRISONER
In a cell.
His cell is small.
He starts and is afraid.
He darts from place to place.
He seeks solace
In his cot, his clock, his sink, his toilet,
His food tray, his allowance, his books and even
Though he waits for the light from his window,
He prefers the dark.
It comforts and discomforts him.
It hides him from others,
But not from himself.
And it hides others from him.
He receives little consolation
From other prisoners,
Whether from that they are
Or what they are.
Not at all alone,
He is very much alone.
He guards his own cell,
Keeping a vigilant watch on himself
Lest he escape.
The key to his door
Is in his cell.
It is rusty.
His fading eye loses sight of it
And fading memory,
Awareness of it.
Why won’t he take the key
And release himself?
Ah! He thinks it to be only a locking key!
That which would release him
He rejects and fears.
A message is passed
Through his window
In a ray of light.
Will he discover
That a father
Awaits to shower
With all that his heart could desire
To its innermost depths?
Will he receive new weapons and power
To prevail, yea, overcome
In the Firestorm?
Will the message get through
Or will the guard see it
And prevent it,
Hiding it from him,
Telling him it will not do?
I see a GUARD
Only secondly by training,
But firstly by nature.
“You’re a man, not a boy!”
“You’re satisfied, not hungry!”
“You’re the father, not the son!”
“You’re an invincible soldier;
Nothing can prevent you!”
“You are not afraid!”
“You are sound in sight,
Pre-eminent in memory
“You’re not a prisoner,”
“But free to come and go,
Possessing many books,
Not to mention ample time and money,”
“The Firestorm is a myth,
Of a dreaming,
With more opinion and
Only one way,
A narrow way,
A blind way
(Make fast the prisoner there, guard.)
He takes out pleasant cloth.
“You’re not alone,”
What more can you
With what you have.
It is a virtue
To be content
With your lot,”
Persuading, the GUARD
Conceals the key
With pleasant cloth,
Cloth neither good nor evil of itself,
A while longer.