Like Those Who Dream...
-Roy Lessin, Meeting in the Meadow
Chapter 26: What, Own A House?
-Roy Lessin, Meeting in the Meadow
In all the issues of life we can learn to be…
Weak enough to lean upon His strength;
Empty enough to draw upon His fullness;
Poor enough to depend upon His riches;
Needy enough to count upon His grace.
When DaySpring moved from the Arcade in Covina to the supermarket building in Glendora, Char and I started talking about moving to a place closer to work. The idea of buying a house was one of our options, but not a strong one. I was now in my 30’s and had spent my entire life living in places owned by someone else. The thought of being a homeowner rarely crossed my mind. Even though I had been working at DaySpring for four years, I still felt the time might come when God would lead us back to the mission field. I viewed owning a house as something that could bog us down and hinder us from moving. It never occurred to me that buying a house could be in God’s plan for our lives.
Through a friend, I heard about a house for sale that was owned by a pastor who needed to relocate. His house was within walking distance to DaySpring. Char and I made an appointment with the pastor and he gave us a tour of the house. It was about 1200 square feet and had three bedrooms and two baths. The selling feature of the house was the backyard. It was beautifully laid out and landscaped. It included a patio area off the living room and a brick walkway that divided the yard into two sections. The yard included two orange trees and a fig tree. Plants and flowers were everywhere and grape vines grew along the back fence.
We liked the house and it was in our price range. The pastor was willing to work with us and make the sale as easy as possible. The only thing I lacked was the $1000 needed to make the down payment. We prayed about it and waited on the Lord. The provision came in an unexpected way. Through Char’s grandparents, each grandchild was given a $1000 gift as part of their inheritance. It arrived at the perfect time for us to buy the house. I was 35 years old and now a first time homeowner.
After moving into our new house I became anxious and fretful. I began to doubt my decision and wondered if I had made a mistake. “I’ve blown it,” I thought as I sat up in bed one night. “God will never send us to the mission field again. I have this huge mortgage over my head and I am stuck with it for the next thirty years. What have I done?” My fretting went on for nearly two weeks. One night, as I sat up in bed full of anxiety, the still small voice of God’s Spirit comforted me with these words, “You are in this house because I have led you here. This is not your house, it is my house and I have given it to you to live in...Relax and enjoy it, I will take care of you and provide what you need.” At that moment a burden fell off my shoulders and I was at peace. From that point on I enjoyed every moment in that house. It was through our time there that God continued to open the gift of hospitality in a major way, and we were able to touch many new lives through the ministry of our home.
While we were still living in our apartment, there was an important lesson God used to prepare Char’s heart for the ministry of hospitality. Here is the account in her words…
“Even though the Lord had wonderfully provided so many things for our apartment, I lacked a set of complete dishes. Plates were provided from a few sources, but they were all different colors and didn’t match. Even though I enjoyed the apartment, I didn't like the avocado green carpeting, or the water stains on my drapes. When the Lord showed me that my main ministry would be hospitality, I felt embarrassed because I didn't think I had the proper dishes to serve on or that my furnishings were nice enough.
As I was thinking about my dishes, carpeting color and drapes, the Lord reminded me of a meal I was once served in a two room mud-brick house in the backcountry of Mexico. It was a meal I will never forget. Her “dining area” was a dirt floor with concrete blocks for chairs. My lap would be my table as she had no other furniture in her kitchen. Her stove consisted of an opening in her wall where an open fire burned. She made eggs with rice and beans and served them on a tin plate. She also served several tortillas that were made by hand. The meal was delicious. The thing that impressed me most during that visit was the presence of the Lord that filled that simple home, making me feel like I was in the midst of royalty. My hostess radiated the glow of the Lord and I have never been served more graciously. I knew in that moment that my plates do not minister to people, my drapes do not minister to people, and my carpeting does not minister to people; it is the presence of the Lord and the ministry of the Holy Spirit that ministers to people's hearts and needs that come into my home."
Our new home also provided a unique opportunity to reestablish my relationship with my grandfather. The first breakthrough came earlier, while we were still living in our apartment. Char and I had been invited to attend a family gathering that included most of my relatives who lived in the Southern California area. I knew my grandfather would also be in attendance. Since our relationship was so distant once I became a believer in Jesus as my Messiah, I wasn’t sure how to relate to him. A few days before the family gathering I felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to buy my grandfather a gift and bring it to him as a peace offering. I wasn’t sure what the appropriate gift should be, but I finally settled on a new pair of pajamas. When I walked into the home where our family gathering was being held, I spotted my grandfather sitting in a chair in the living room. I walked directly up to him, greeted him with a smile and said, “This is for you, Grandpa,” and handed him the gift-wrapped package. Immediately, I could see something change in his countenance. He opened the gift and thanked me for it. That day, the hostility between us was broken.
When we moved into our new home my grandfather paid us an unexpected visit. Here is an account of that visit as told by Char…
"When we moved to our house that we had just bought in Glendora, we were so pleased to receive the gift of a clothes dryer as a house gift from Roy’s grandfather! He was a carpenter and had several hand tools that he also passed on to Roy, which meant so much to Roy.
One day, Roy’s grandfather and uncle rang our door bell and paid a spontaneous visit. This was the only time they just dropped in. When we would see them, it would normally be on invitation. Grandpa wanted to see the dryer he had given us. At the same time, Roy’s half-sister, Leeba, came by for a little visit as she was home from college. We were very close and had a deep love for each other. Her desire all her life was to know her grandfather, but because her father (Roy’s father) and Grandpa were estranged, she never had that opportunity - until then!
The scene I saw before me should be a movie! She approached her grandfather, in our kitchen, and said, “Grandpa, I’m Leeba.” They wept and wept on each other’s necks! Her desire had only just begun! The following years up until his death, they had a very close relationship. Because of this, Grandpa once again opened his heart to Roy and Leeba’s father for the remaining years of his life."
Leeba’s Notes: "I was in college in Santa Barbara—I was driving home for a holiday weekend and wanted to drop off some gifts at Roy and Char’s home. I called to say I was coming by. Char answered the phone. When I said I wanted to come by, Char paused a minute and then said…”Well, OK, but your grandfather is here…Are you sure?” Was I SURE? It made me want to arrive in record speed! My brother Roy was talking to my Grandfather, who I saw with my own eyes for the first time. But there was NO DOUBT— his face, his manner, HIS HANDS….they were the face and manner and hands of my own father (and the hands of my brother Roy). I walked up to him and said “Grandpa, I’m Leeba,” and I started to cry and hug him and he wept and embraced me in return—and we stayed that way, with immediate love and tenderness for one another—with what seemed like a very long time. It was probably, after all, only a few seconds. But it was powerful. We spoke a bit that day—mostly me telling him my tales of college life, some data about my siblings (one of whom he did not know had been born). He never asked about my father. When it was time to leave, we made arrangements to see one another again. He slipped $2 in my hand as we said our good-byes, grinned, and said “Buy yourself some ice cream—my treat.”
27: Listen to Me
God has a will and God has a voice. He is a communicator and He knows how to make clear what His will is for our lives. I have never heard God speak to me in an audible voice, but I have learned to hear His voice as I have sought His will for my life. Most often, I have heard Him direct me through Scripture. He has also helped me know His direction inwardly through the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. The voice of the Holy Spirit is always in agreement with Scripture, and following His voice always results in God being glorified. God can also use circumstances, and members of the Body of Christ to help confirm His will. In Scripture we discover that God also has other ways of making His will known, if He so chooses. When we hear God’s voice, it will always be clear—His is not the voice of confusion, fear, or unbelief.
As DaySpring grew, I spent more and more time writing and working in the creative end of the business. By this time we had developed a small selection of everyday cards to go along with our Christmas cards. When the everyday cards went into the Christian bookstores they received an enthusiastic reception. Because of the cards success I was asked to create a new set. I went to my office a bit bewildered. I had not fully grasped the ministry potential in greeting cards and I was ready to move on to other things. From my point of view, it seemed like the set of everyday cards we had produced was enough. “What else could be said?’ I reasoned as I thought about the assignment. I decided to make it a matter of prayer. “Lord, I’ve been asked to write more cards and I’m not sure I can. How do I approach this?”
God not only answered my prayer, but with the answer revealed to me a principle which would be the key to the success of DaySpring cards throughout the years. Here is how I understood His answer…“I want you to listen to Me. Hear what I am saying; what you hear is what I want you to write on your cards. What I am speaking to you, I am speaking to others. When others read your cards they will identify with the message, and they will be your customers.”
I began listening more closely to what God was saying to my spirit as I meditated on His word, read books, heard sermons, prayed with others, and listened to testimonies. I kept my “stick in the stream” and wrote down the things that came to me as I listened. Listening was important because I knew I could not share the heart of God with others if I did not know what was in His heart for others.
I didn’t always listen well. One day I was scheduled to play an afternoon round of golf with my uncle. That morning, I had been asked by a friend to take a missionary to the airport. I picked up the missionary and we left in plenty of time for him to catch his flight. I had $10 in my wallet when we left. I was planning on using the money for my golf game in the afternoon. Before I arrived at the airport I sensed the Lord leading me to give the $10 to the missionary. Instead of obeying the Lord’s leading, I began reasoning with the Lord, telling Him why I couldn’t give the money. “It’s the only money I have and I need it to play golf with my uncle.” When we arrived at the airport I dropped the missionary off at the gate and drove off, the $10 still in my wallet.
I was in for quite a surprise when I arrived home from the airport. Char greeted me with the following message, “Your uncle called and was sorry to disappoint you, but something unexpected came up and he is not able to meet with you for golf this afternoon.” The Lord knew all along that I wouldn’t need that $10. I felt terrible when I realized that I had missed the opportunity God had given me to bless one of His servants.
Our home provided many opportunities for us to reconnect with family, especially my mother. She became a regular for Sunday afternoon visits. Although she made it clear that she did not want us to talk to her about our faith in Jesus, she did embrace us as a family and we always enjoyed her visits with us.
The business outgrew the building in Glendora and we talked about the need to find a new location. Other issues were stirring the nest as well, including escalating interest rates, and a growing recession. Don and Dean had a desire to find a place with enough land where the business, our personal homes, and a church ministry could operate within close proximity to each other. At first, I thought this would mean moving somewhere else in California, but to my surprise, the idea of moving to Arkansas was being strongly considered.
Dean knew a realtor in Arkansas who recommended he take an exploratory trip to see the area. The realtor was located in the Northwest part of the state in a city called Siloam Springs. It was a small city of about 8,000 people. The city was home to John Brown University, a highly respected Christian college. The city bordered Oklahoma and was on the edge of the Ozark Mountains. A large piece of property near the Illinois River came on the market. It was the perfect spot for the relocation. The decision was made to move to Arkansas in the summer of 1979. As the summer drew near I was not sure if the move was right for me at that time. New opportunities were opening up for me to teach and speak in Southern California, as well as other parts of the country.
I decided to remain in Southern California when the business moved to Arkansas. For the next five months I continued to do creative work for the company and stayed in touch by phone and the mail. By late fall I knew that practically, if I wanted to continue my relationship with DaySpring, I needed to make the move to Arkansas. Char and I decided to put our house on the market with certain conditions. We would list the house for only one month, if it didn’t sell by that time we would stay in California. We also listed the house at the highest price ever asked for a home in our neighborhood. Because of the high interest rates it was one of the worst times to sell a house. As we talked things over with the realtor she was doubtful we would be able to sell our house in such a short amount of time and get the price we were asking.
The first day the house went on the market a man and his wife walked through our property and gave it a good looking over. Shortly after leaving, they contacted the realtor and told her they were very interested in the house. The next day the realtor contacted us with the news, “The family that looked at your house yesterday wants to buy it. They will pay your full asking price.” We were amazed at the speed and ease of the sale. It helped to confirm our decision that God was releasing us to make the move to Arkansas.
(Join us next week as we continue this journey of Roy's memoir, Like Those Who Dream. The book is available through DaySpring and Christian retailers everywhere.)
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©2022, Roy Lessin, Meeting in the Meadow. ©2021 DaySpring, used with permission. All rights reserved.