A year ago this week, I was told to look for another job. The Christian school where I taught saw an enrollment drop and couldn’t afford to keep me on staff.
Days after the news, the tips of my fingers still tingled with numbness when I thought about finances. I didn’t know if there would be any money left to scrape out of our bank account in the next few months. If this news wasn’t enough, we had just moved into our first home and my wife was seven months pregnant.
There really wasn’t even anyone to “blame.” I only have great things to say about my school administrators (who even offered to help me in anyway they could), but that didn’t stop me from becoming depressed. Is that all right for me to say? Sometimes Christians get depressed. Not because they don’t love Jesus, but because they live in the real world and not a Disney Channel sitcom.
There’s a cascade of thoughts that splash around in one’s mind when you’ve found yourself in a blocked off alley. Especially for a man. We want to provide for our families. More than that, we want to be able to offer our spouse and children a few luxuries now and again. I didn’t want to talk much about my feelings and I certainly didn’t want to cut up my emotions for the world to see. I was embarrassed. This was the second job in less than a year to tell me they couldn’t pay my salary. I was beginning to think it was me.
I’ve been asked many times about how one can know God’s will. God’s general will—to love Jesus and others—is fairly straightforward. But what about his specific will? How do I know I’m personally and professionally in the place God wants me to be?
Pastor Timothy Keller once said, “God’s guidance is more something God does than something God gives.” I many ways, I think what he is talking about is true. God often guides us by working through our situation. He tells us to trust him even though we don’t know what the future holds.
The biblical story of Abraham comes to mind. Back before he became the subject of a catchy—and partially annoying—song, he was just Abram. God told Abram to leave everything he knew and hit the road. No destination given. No address to punch into his GPS.
While I don’t believe we should blame God for every hurt, pain, or heartbreak we experience—there is a difference between God redeeming tragedy and him orchestrating difficult circumstances to grow us. We must know there are moments when, as Keller says, God “does” to guide.
Last year wasn’t easy, but it somehow turned out to be one of the best years of our lives. You see, I didn’t find a job. I found many jobs. I realize now that God used a terrible situation to propel me and my family to an entirely new, better place. He was guiding us through a job loss while sanctifying our lives along the way.
I work full-time from home now. I’m a minister, freelance writer, video producer, adjunct instructor, content manager, and researcher (those are just my legal jobs). In addition, I take care of my ten month old son during the day. I’m on my way to being a soccer dad in just a few years.
I’ve never been busier, but I’ve never enjoyed any job as much as I enjoy these jobs. I’m able to participate in opportunities I would not have been able to explore if I were still a full-time teacher. I get to do everything I love and spend time during the day with one of the most important people in my life. I’ve seen God take a hobby, writing, and use it to encourage others (and even pay a few bills). Our financial situation isn’t the most stable, some months are harder than others, but we always seem to make it.
Here’s why I decided to write this blog. I don’t find it easy to talk about my struggles, but I do it anyway because I feel like maybe it will help others. I want to encourage those stuck in between a rock and a hard credit card payment. Life might be difficult for you. Your fingers might tingle with numbness every time you think about finances. But what if this situation is a way to move your family forward in God’s will? What if you need to go down a floor before you can hit an elevator that will take you up five stories?
Maybe, God is “doing” to guide you.