When a Setback Sets Us Up For Something Better

Imagine with me for a moment that you want to buy a new home. You know the price you’re willing to pay and the area you’re willing to move into. You circle two houses in the paper that meet your requirements.

          This fixer-upper.

          And this ready-to-move-into home.

They sell for the same price.

They are on the same street.

Which would you choose?

Elaine Miller, author of We All Married Idiots, and her husband Dan faced this situation over a weekend.

Two houses.

Same price.

Same street.

The decision as she describes it was a no-brainer.

But they ran into a snag.

The ready-to-move-into home sold ten minutes before they returned to place their offer.

They settled for the fixer-upper, one she named Crooked. And its needs managed to overwhelm them within a few short months. They couldn’t handle all the necessary repairs, and the problems made everyday life in the home stressful.

Questions arose out of the stress. God, why did you withhold your blessing from us? Don’t you love us? How can anything good come out of this? Why couldn’t we have gotten back to the better house sooner?

But then something amazing happened.

Dan went to a football game and spoke to a young man who was just starting out in the construction business. He hired the contractor who practically lived in Elaine and Dan’s home for weeks.

During that time, the young man asked a lot of questions about God and the Bible. The couple answered his questions and helped him come to faith in Jesus Christ. From those conversations, the young contractor chose to pursue another path, one of Bible school and full-time ministry.

Note: Elaine W. Miller tells this story in more detail in her book, We All Married Idiots: Three Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and Ten Things You Can. I’m over halfway through the book and find its advice sound in relation to my own marriage. I read it as a devotional in the morning after my Scripture reading. I recommend it to those who are married.

I’m curious. What setback set you up for something better?

I’ll give my own answer in the comments.

Recommended links:

Jon Acuff’s “How big are your failures?” (Brief but good thought)

Today’s Word: COMMITMENT at John Maxwell Team (Good illustration of commitment’s benefit)

Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes

Two men. Two eternal destinies.

One common hope.

What people are saying:

“Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes” was a compelling read for me. The vivid descriptions challenged and ignited my imagination.—Ron Fruit, GM, WRCO Radio

A very intriguing book that puts a different spin on Heaven and Hell. It is not just fluffy clouds and a fiery lake. T. Neal Tarver has created a story that you won’t want to put down until the very end.—G. Worthington, College Student

Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes can be found at:

WestBow Press


Barnes & Noble

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About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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5 Responses to When a Setback Sets Us Up For Something Better

  1. tnealtarver says:

    When we lived in Russia, I heard about a laser technique in our city that improved eyesight to 20-20. Despite the protests of Ellen and others, I decided to go have the procedure done. I was desperate to shuck my thick-lensed glasses.

    I went alone (well, probably I had wheedled some Russian friend to translate for me, but I felt alone). I ran into a literal closed door. The eye institute, for some reason, had locked up for the day. At the time, I wondered why God would close that avenue to me. Didn’t He love me?

    A little over a year later, I had a procedure done in the U. S. at a clinic known for corrective eye surgery. The surgery cost me nothing but time because the head doctor was a committed Christian and offered the clinic’s services free of charge to those in full-time missionary work.

    God blessed me with excellent eyesight, but not at the time or in the way I expected. The delay only made me more grateful later to see without corrective lenses of any kind.

  2. Jon Stolpe says:

    Great post and reminder. There are things in my own past specifically related to my wife’s health that seem like the fixer upper house. But it’s been amazing to see how God has used these things to impact the lives of others.

    • tnealtarver says:

      Health issues can seem like an obstacle rather than a blessing guiding us to trust God. Something about going through those tough issues as husband and wife strengthens the marriage if we allow it to.

  3. Hi! I’m the author of We All Married Idiots. Exciting to see this story impacted you. We do serve an amazing God. Glad you like the book. How did you hear about We All Married Idiots?

    For all broken-hearted lovers out there, another set back for me was a broken engagement. Now married 42 years, I thank God for the man I married. God brought us together as marriage and ministry partners. All in God’s plan which is always better than mine.

    Have wonderful travels with your wife. Sounds exciting. Thanks for posting about my book.

    Blessings to you,
    Elaine W. Miller

    • tnealtarver says:

      Elaine, as I wrote in my review, you delivered on the promise of a good read and more than delivered on the helpful, practical advice shared. Your title is eye-catching and memorable so that’s what initially got my attention. I saw it mentioned in several Pentalk conversations and downloaded the Kindle version during the free period. Free version or not, your book is worth reading. Glad to have you visit Curious.

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