107: The Ultimate Landlord

107: The Ultimate Landlord

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People

The Ultimate Landlord

Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible.

~Author Unknown

Another beautiful day in paradise, I thought, as I sipped my morning cup of coffee. It felt so good to be back. I had missed living in the warmth of the Florida sun and was anxious to sink my toes into the sugar white sands of the beach and never leave again. As I took the last sip of my coffee, the doorbell rang. My husband, David, stood at the front door cradling a large box in his arms. Where was his company car?

“Just let me in, Karen. It’s okay.” What was he talking about? What’s okay? As he put the box on the floor, overflowing with everything from his office, I heard him say, “I’ve been fired... and they let go four others on my staff as well.”

I was stunned! We had just moved from Michigan to Sarasota, Florida, three months before, when David had been recruited to be Vice President of Franchising. Now he and most of his staff had been terminated.

Four months went by without a promise of a new job. No matter how many resumés David mailed out, no one seemed to need a vice president. The reserve in our savings account was quickly dwindling. “Don’t worry, we’ll manage,” David kept saying, trying to reassure me. When the pastor of our church came to extend a helping hand, David continued to say, “We’ll manage—there are things we can sell to meet our obligations.”

Sensing the pride in David’s voice, the pastor gently responded, “When you get to Aunt Tillie’s antiques, stop. God does not intend for you to sell everything you have. Our Benevolence Fund is there to help you.” I knew it was hard for David to accept help from anyone. He had always been the one to give it. Now he had to learn what it meant to receive it.

When our son, Michael, emptied his bank account to cover a month’s rent, we realized we could no longer postpone telling our landlords. We had leased their home for one year until they retired the following summer. Where would we go—what would we do? David dialed their number.

“Don’t even think about moving out. We know David will get another job and when he does, you can pay us.” Were we hearing right? This couple hardly knew us, meeting us for the first time when we signed the lease. As they continued to reassure us, we began to feel God’s reassurance. He had obviously hand-picked this place of refuge for us months before.

Long walks on the beach continued to help us keep God’s perspective. The waves softly lapping at our feet seemed to whisper “don’t worry, don’t worry.” The display of His brilliant sunsets sinking into the tranquil waters of the Gulf constantly reminded us of His glory and power. Just as He controlled the ebb and flow of the tides, we knew everything in our lives was under His control.

More months went by—still no promise of a job for David. My job at the real estate office helped to put food on the table and gas in the car, but could not begin to meet our major obligations.

My heart ached for David. I knew he so badly wanted to be the good provider he had always been, and I became so acutely aware of how delicate the male ego can be. I prayed, “Dear God, help me to be sensitive to David’s feelings and his emotional needs.” I knew David was drawing his strength from God—I wanted to be a positive influence for him as well. Our devotion to each other was deeper than ever before.

One morning we woke to the sounds of a storm hurling the waves against the nearby beach. When it was over, we decided to take a walk to view the damage. As we strolled the beach hand in hand, we noticed another couple coming toward us. Squeezing my hand, David said, “They look like our landlords from Chicago!” As they caught up to us, we exclaimed, “What a surprise to see you! Are you on vacation?”

Somewhat embarrassed, they said, “No, we’re renting a condo for a couple of months on the beach. Then, for the summer we are going to house sit for friends.” When we began to protest, they continued to say, “We changed our moving plans and didn’t want you to think you had to move before the lease is up in August. That’s why we didn’t tell you we were here.” As we said our goodbyes and walked away, once again we were overwhelmed by their generosity. How could such kindness be extended to us from people we hardly knew?

David had now been out of work for ten months and our lease would soon be terminating. We were facing the reality of once again not having a place to live.

One morning as I prayed, it occurred to me that I could check on rentals through the real estate office. Out of curiosity, I began to look at two-bedroom condos, knowing we could manage with a smaller living space. A listing for a condo facing the Gulf of Mexico caught my eye. Could we really have a view of the Gulf? I was so drawn to the beauty and tranquility of those sparkling turquoise waters. They seemed to be a visual manifestation of God’s promise of peace. A verse from the book of Psalms—“Take your delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”—gave me courage. It wouldn’t hurt to try.

Not knowing how we could put this together, we went to see the condo. Shades of royal blue, lime green and shocking pink carpeting, outdated wallpaper, and worn printed drapes greeted us as we walked through the door. My perfectionist nature and eye for decorating made me flinch as I took in my surroundings. Yet, I realized the floor plan would accommodate our furniture and the view—the view of the Gulf was beautiful! Could we live here like it was? It really needed to be redecorated. What if! What if the landlord would let us replace the carpeting, drapes, and wallpaper in lieu of six months rent and no deposit?

The realtor had never heard of such a thing. How could she present that kind of offer to the out-of-town landlord?

Time was running out—just a few short weeks before we needed to move. Then God’s answer came. First, David was offered a job with a franchise company based in Atlanta. Because they needed him to represent them in the field, we could stay in Florida. Then, the frustrated realtor gave David the opportunity to negotiate with the landlord. We got a three-year lease with no increase, no deposit, and six months free rent in exchange for decorating the condo just the way we wanted it.

As we settled in to enjoy the magnificent view of the Gulf, our hearts overflowed with thanksgiving and gratitude. Not only did God meet our needs, He gave us our heart’s desire. He was our Provider—the Ultimate Landlord!

~Karen R. Kilby

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