Here’s what makes HOA’s very interesting. Nobody really has the time or wants to do the work that needs to be done, especially a sewage treatment plant, and usually the ones that are willing to do the work should probably not be doing it in the first place. But, without them, things wouldn’t get done at all. It’s usually a pretty intense love\hate relationship. But I’m learning that how God can even work through how I respond to my HOA Board. Let me explain.
We have an HOA in our neighborhood in Forney, Texas too. There isn’t a sewage treatment plant thankfully, but we do pay bi-annual dues for upkeep to the neighborhood and to make sure everyone “abides by the rules.” All these rules are listed in a document we were given when we closed on our home that I honestly never read. We were so excited to be moving into our new home it just wasn’t important! Funny how it becomes important when you get notices about those small details listed in that paperwork. When warnings arrive in your mailbox about fence slats missing, where you store your trash cans, missed payments & fees, and basketball goals being stored in the proper place things change. How I responded is what is important.
Honestly, as I write this and think about my experiences with HOA’s over the years, my mind can easily go down the wrong path. I can get angry and let loose with a negative verbal barrage describing my feelings about the events we’ve gone through over the years. That would be how I feel, and feelings should never impact the final decisions we make. Instead, as my wife Donna has said to me so eloquently over the years, “if you’ll just think and choose the small things that need to be done, even when you don’t like it, you will end up being blessed and being a blessing to others as you simply obey what needs to be done.” This morning was one of those moments.
Our portable basketball cannot be left in our cul-de-sac or on the sidewalk. Those are the rules. It has to be in the driveway, where in my opinion it looks much more unattractive and the concrete isn’t flat (sorry, had to express just a bit of my frustration), so that requires that you move it back and forth. We had about 15 kids playing basketball this past weekend, so I left the goal in the cul-de-sac overnight. This morning I knew I needed to move it back to “its spot”, but when I began to move it the wheel bracket broke off. It wasn’t going anywhere. What I felt like doing was curse the HOA and look for some type of device to destroy the basketball goal completely! That’s what I felt, but what I chose, for once, was to remember the advice of my wife, determine the size bolts that I needed to fix the wheels, and do the small thing that needed to be done.
I went to Lowes, found the bolts, came home, installed them, and then the most amazing thing happened. The basketball goal rolled like it hasn’t rolled in forever. Why? Because the goal was actually missing a bolt, and when I made that minor adjustment to it, which took all of 5 minutes, it rolled easily up the drive to the spot where it is required to be by our beloved HOA. You know what? It felt good to just do the right thing.
Pride & Denial are very dangerous components in our lives. I could justify many things about my relationship with our HOA over the years. I could logically explain why payments were missed, how unjust the late fees have been, and how the rules of the neighborhood seem simply ridiculous. You might even agree with me and have some horror stories of your own. But when I choose to deny my role and mistakes in the situation, my pride ultimately takes over and the result is a much bigger mess than I had to experience in the first place. When I work so hard to justify myself and my actions, I only cause more problems for my family and those around me. If I simply choose to assess the situation, go to Lowes and get a couple of bolts for $1.87, and do the right thing, things end up much better for everyone involved. That’s where I am today. I’m learning, I emphasize “learning,” to value honesty and simply doing the right thing more than avoiding the truth.
There is a very interesting story in the Bible. In I Samuel 15, King Saul is confronted by the prophet Samuel about his disobedience. God had told Saul to get rid of everything in a battle that he would win. No one and nothing was to be left, but instead of doing as he was told, he ignored the Lord’s instructions. He allowed the King of the land he had conquered to live and kept much of the livestock. When Samuel confronted him, Saul began to make excuses and tried to justify his actions. Pride and Denial crept in quickly. Saul said, “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” (I Samuel 15:21)
After King Saul made this statement, Samuel said something so powerful back to Saul. It really applies to what we are talking about today, and it is something that God has been trying to show me personally through His Word, my wife, and people that cared about me over the years. Samuel says, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.” (I Samuel 15:22-23)
Wow! Those verses are so powerful & challenging! When I try to justify my actions, manipulate situations and people with my words to avoid the truth, and live in rebellion, it’s as sinful as witchcraft! Samuel makes it clear. Obedience and Submission are better than anything “I” can offer, sacrifice, or DO. The result of Saul’s choices was that God rejected Him as King and Saul ended up dying on a battlefield a paranoid and desperate man. It didn’t have to be that way.
I can relate to Saul. I have made some horrible choices over the years. I have, on many occasions, chosen to live a life of pride and denial instead of choosing to repent of my actions, own my choices, and acknowledge my failures authentically. A simple act of obedience and humility could have made things so different. I could have saved my wife and family from so much unnecessary hurt & pain, avoided careless financial loss, and ushered peace into my home rather than confusion and chaos.
There’s good news today! We don’t have to live that way! We can change! Because of Jesus Christ we can find forgiveness & become the men and women He desires for us to be. We can be different! II Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
We can choose to obey God's way above our own. We can make the minor adjustments. We can choose to believe that Jesus truly is “the way, the truth, and the life.” The old life of denial and pride can be gone, and a new life can begin today that will ultimately usher in forgiveness, peace, hope, and the change you desire. It’s NEVER too late.