I have believed for a long time that in order to find a spouse, you don't go looking for a spouse; your future mate is wrapped up in the heart of God. Seek HIS heart, and you will find the treasures He has in His heart for you.
So in the shower yesterday morning, a startling idea hit me:
What if I looked for a job like that?
What if, in the heart of God, there is the perfect job, just for me, hidden away there? What if, in order to find this job, I must plunge deep into Him, delight in Him, know His heart, and discover a deeper intimacy with him?
Sure, I could probably find a job myself. I could go down to the grocery store or the fast food joint, or apply on craigslist. But it wouldn't be that job.
I'm going to try it. I'll let you know how the experiment works.
And in the meantime, I'm just purely working for HIM, writing my book and seeing Him provide for me, and it is the most amazing experience ever. He takes such good care of me!
February 8, 2014
I promised to let everyone know how the experiment worked, and then I never posted the results. Oops. Thanks, Jonathan, for your comment alerting me to the fact. It's a pretty good story.
Basic result: IT WORKED.
But my faith was tested not a little in the carrying out of the experiment.
I wrote the above post on August 13. At that date, I still had a bit of money in the bank, so I wasn't urgently worried about my situation. I was also riding high on the confidence of how magnificently God had provided for me up until that point.
Two days later, on the 15th, I paid all my bills, and I gulped in alarm. I only had $24.10 left in my bank account. Now I really needed God to show up and make things happen. Whereas before I had felt like it would be literally impossible for me to ever reach the bottom of His supply for me, now I began to experience a tiny bit of doubt. "But what if I do run out?" began to be a question in my mind.
I wrote at the time,
"A host of unwelcome visitors are knocking at my soul. Fear is knocking, impatience is knocking, doubt is knocking, self-effort is knocking, emotional overload is knocking, defeat is knocking, and if I open the door to one, the whole horde of unpleasant creatures will come sweeping in to wreak havoc on my peace, my faith, my confidence, and my assurance.
"Guess what? I don’t have to let them in.
"I don’t have to come to the door, get close enough to hear what they’re saying, read the pamphlets they’re shoving through the window, or pay them the least bit of attention. Do you know where I’m going? To the closet. I’m going to be alone with Jesus, to cry out to Him, to ask Him to drive off these noisy pests from the door, and to ask Him to do something about it.
"...Do you know what I did with the horde of angry, vehement characters beating on the door of my soul? I went to Jesus and I said to Him, as if He was my husband and could fill the role of answering the door and dealing with all the unsavory characters to send them packing,
“Jesus, do you see all those people at the door? What do you want to do about them? They’re bothering me. Can you please take care of them?” And do you know what He did? He drove them away.
"And then, claiming my dependence on Him and the fact that I had staked everything on Him, I reminded Him of the fact that my bank account was almost empty and called on Him to do something about it. Do you know what He said? “Yes, it’s almost gone. But it’s not completely gone.” That gave me hope. I have never come to the bottom of His supply of resources. He has always provided for me. He has always come through for me. And I can confidently expect Him to do the same again."
A couple of other things also helped to keep my perspective in place and not give way to doubt. One was that at the Set-Apart Girl conference back at the end of May, they had done a short promo for Compassion International, and each person received a packet to look at and prayerfully consider sponsoring a child. I had been through this before, and I had never felt prompted (or even permitted) to sign up for a sponsorship. However, as I looked at the picture of the child I had been given, the Lord filled my heart with love for that child and prompted me to support him. I initially fought it off. "This can't be right. I don't even have an income." I also argued with the choice of the child. The people to my right and my left had received packets featuring children from Haiti, and I considered asking to trade with them. I felt like Haiti made way more sense. I could write to the child in Creole, and maybe even visit him or her. But no. I had a clear and definite sense that my packet was being singled out as containing the child I ought to sponsor. So I signed up for the sponsorship, because I was pretty sure it would be disobedience not to. As I did so, I was struck by this thought: "Well, if God wants me to sign up to sponsor this child, then I can count on Him providing me at least $38 a month so that I can do it."
Later, when I was being tested with this "new kind of job hunt," the Lord reminded me of my Compassion International child and asked me, "Do you think I will forget that child?"
"No," I replied, "of course not!"
"Then, my dear one, how can you doubt that I will take care of you?"
And I was instantly melted by His love and kindness and concern, and I felt my feet re-established onto the firm ground of faith that He would, indeed provide.
Another mainstay during that time was the hymn, "If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee." I memorized the words and sang it often, and I played it on my guitar just about every day. It served as a constant reminder of God's faithfulness and trustworthiness.
To get back to the story, right before my Compassion sponsorship payment was due, I received a cash gift of $50 from a lovely lady at my church in Tennessee, and I said to myself, "God remembered my Compassion child!" I also treated a friend to coffee and got some groceries, and when all was said and done, I had $18 left.
I couldn't help being a bit worried again. Where was this job that was hidden in God's heart for me? But He continued to press me towards Him, disregarding the outward circumstances. I had no expectation or guarantee of any income. There I was, running this unconventional experiment, trusting God for a job, and looking for it, not on craigslist, but in His heart, and I had $18.
Common sense dictated that desperate times called for drastic measures. My usage cycle on my phone went from the 22nd to the 21st of every month. I knew if I turned my phone off on the 21st, I would stop being billed for it (because I was going month-to-month), so I said to myself, "I can't afford my phone. If nothing changes by the 21st, then I will shut off my phone on the evening of the 21st." In the meantime, I continued to delight in the Lord and exult in knowing and being known of Him.
On the 20th, I received a $100 check in the mail. "Wow! I guess I don't have to turn off my phone!" I said to myself. It actually took more courage to leave my phone on than to turn it off, because I knew I had food and gas and other expenses in life, and by the time my bill came due again, that $100 would be eaten up, but I felt that the check was God's token to me that He had heard and remembered my need.
Since I didn't yet have a way to cash a check in Colorado, I went to open a bank account. The personal banker who opened my account was talkative and friendly, and he asked general questions about what I was doing with my life. I said that I had just moved to Colorado and that I was writing a book. "Oh..." he said, in that tolerant, polite tone of voice people sometimes use when they don't understand you at all, "That's a nice form of self-discovery." He asked a few sales-y questions like whether I owned or rented my home, and then he asked, "What concerns do you have?"
"Um, what do you mean? Concerns about the bank account?" I asked.
"No, just about money in general," he replied. "What keeps you up at night?"
"Nothing!" I exclaimed. "I don't worry about money at all." I was filled with a sense of awe and love for God, and I was overwhelmed with how rich I truly was. I was also amused by the thought of how mystified the banker would be if he knew that all I had in the world was eighteen dollars plus this check. Because I was depositing an out-of-state, handwritten check, I had to wait for the funds to clear, so the money wasn't yet available to me, but I walked out of the bank as if I was floating. I had God! What else could I want?
Over the next few days, as my funds continued to dwindle, I continued to delight in God, pursue him, and trust Him to do the impossible. Little things happened to remind me how little money I had. My gas tank was pushing closer and closer to empty. A friend of mine called and said she needed someone to bring her a couple of quarts of oil to where she was stopped on the side of the freeway, and I had to honestly tell her that I didn't have the money to buy the oil or the gas to get to her, and I had to ask another friend to help her out. But through the grace of God, I was kept in a happy state of rest and contentment.
I went to Wal-Mart on August 24 and purchased four items with $10 of the last $13 from the envelope. As I paid the cashier, I lifted up my soul to the Lord with a little gesture of showing Him the three lonely little dollar bills. "Three dollars, Lord," I silently pleaded. What was He going to do?
As I left the check-out and started towards the exit, I passed by the in-store bank. A sign said they were hiring full-time personal bankers. I went over to the teller. "Hey, I just noticed you're hiring," I said. "I was just wondering, do you think this is a nice place to work?" She started telling me about the job, and then the manager came over. We had a conversation and he started asking me about myself. I talked about how I had just moved here from Tennessee. We laughed and really seemed to hit it off well, and I thought to myself, "Wow, I feel like I'm getting a pre-interview right here!" This was exactly what I felt like I needed, because my resume is such a hodge-podge of mission opportunities that it doesn't look extremely good for landing a job, and I figured it would land at the bottom of the stack unless someone talked to me, liked me, and saw that I would be able to do the job.
That day, August 24, was a Saturday. I went home and applied. Sunday, the manager called me and asked for an interview. Monday I interviewed, and Tuesday I started. And I have worked there ever since.
Just like that!
The Lord certainly tested me, tried me, and brought me as close as possible to the end of my finances, but He did not fail me. His provision was allowed to look like it might fail, but it was never allowed to actually fail.
Someone else might be permitted to go out and look for a job the conventional way, and even in my own case, later on down the road, I might be out of a job again and be permitted to job hunt the way everyone else does. However, in this experience, I was allowed to see the heightened glory of God at work, as I proved His faithfulness and saw how mightily He Himself, without any help, rolled out the red carpet for me to have a job.
And then He did it again as I repeated the experiment with a new kind of house hunt.