Sunday, October 11, 2009

Big Answer to Prayer

"They will tell of the power of your awesome works,
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They will celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness."
(Psalm 145:6-7)

In this spirit I want to make public a big answer to prayer for which my wife Olivia and I are really thankful.

Since moving to Richmond Olivia had not been able to find a full-time teaching job. She has begun working part-time at a local Christian preschool--a job which she enjoys a lot. But that wasn't elementary school teaching, what she really wants to do. Two months of job searching yielded no real fruit. But then a week ago she had interviewed for and was offered two jobs: (1) The first was a special education aide job for thirty hours per week all year long in Henrico County. The hourly pay wasn't stupendous, and Olivia wouldn't really be teaching per se, but it would be a consistent paycheck all year long. (2) The second was a two-week-long substitute teaching job for a friend of ours in Hanover County. This job was high paying daily and offered the possibility of find more work later in the year, but it was only two weeks' worth of guaranteed work. It would also allow Olivia to actually teach.

For us it seemed like a really difficult choice. Olivia had to make a decision by the next morning (Tuesday, Oct. 6). We were pretty stressed over it, but we knew we really needed to be thanking God for even having a stressful choice between two jobs in the first place! She had gone from total unemployment to a fun part-time job and two viable job offers in just a few weeks.

As we talked and prayed late into the night last Monday, what became increasingly clear to me was not that we should ask God for something to tip the scales in favor of one job over the other. Rather, we needed to pray in the knowledge that no job is a "guarantee," and having a stable budget is not what brings us security (Luke 12:1-34). God our Father is our sovereign provider, not any job or school. We decided to scrap praying for clarity regarding the job choice and rather for greater trust in God to be with us and to uphold us, for faith in and dependence upon him each day and week for our vitality. We asked God also that no matter which job we chose, that Olivia would work wholeheartedly and that I would support her as best as I can.

As we prayed this--which wasn't easy, but it's what we needed and what honored God the most--it also seemed clearer to me that God has given us our work as a vocation to enjoy. I wanted Olivia to have the freedom to do what she thrives at, which in this case we thought would be the long-term sub job. Plus taking this two-week job would both allow and demand that God open more doors for future jobs, rather than leaving us in a "secure" but inflexible position. So in the end this is what we decided upon.

On Tuesday morning Olivia accepted that job and then had another interview for a second long-term sub job in Hanover County: and this time a three-month-long one. She got offered that job, too! This is a huge gift from God, a big boost to our income, and a relieving confirmation to Olivia that she is a good teacher. God met our prayers and honored our desire to put trust in him to lead us through the dark instead of wanting to have all our circumstances organized and clear.

Thanks be to God for his lovingkindness toward us and his bereket in our lives!*

Our fascination with the will of God often betrays our lack of trust in God's promises and provision. We don't just want his word that he will be with us; we want him to show us the end from the beginning and prove to us that he can be trusted.

. . . We must renounce our sinful desire to know the future and be in control. We are not gods. We walk by faith, not by sight. We risk because God does not risk. We walk into the future in God-glorifying confidence, not because the future is known to us but because it is known to God. And that's all we need to know.

~ Kevin DeYoung, pastor of University Reformed Church,
East Lansing, Michigan

*Bereket is one of my favorite words. It's Turkish for "blessing," "fullness," or "abundance."


Halfmom said...

reposting at my blog since in recent days there have been several discussions on walking by faith and not by sight. thank you for taking the time to post your gratitude and insights. It is good to hear it from each of your unique perspectives.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Good post and quote. And praise God for his provision in your lives!!