In his heart a man plans His course, but the Lord determines His steps. – Proverbs 16:9 NIV
I hope that you all are doing well. God has been showing me some incredible things about His guidance that I think can be a great encouragement to someone else.
Last week at church, I was sitting in our weekly pre-service Bible study when we were asked, "what is your favorite attribute or characteristic of Jesus?" I don't know how many times I've answered this question, but the answer changes as my relationship with God grows and as my life evolves. In this phase of life, my favorite attributes of His are faithfulness and leadership. Life as a 20-something is extremely uncertain and there are lots of things that can go wrong, but in my own life I have found that it is in these times of uncertainty that God shows Himself to be a faithful leader.
As I saw the summer wrapping up at the end of July with no job prospects in sight after months of aggressive searching and applying, I experienced a feeling that hadn't been present in my life for a while: fear. That feeling had been gone because where faith dwells, fear does not. But when I began to look at my situation with my own carnal eyes instead of faith, I panicked.
I won’t have a job. What will people/my parents/my family think of me? I spent a year teaching for free and now no one will hire me? What if I messed up somewhere? What happened? God, what’s happening?
These thoughts and questions littered my mind as I thought about how disappointed I would be if I didn’t “use my degree” immediately. But how silly of me. I know that God guides me because every time I’ve asked for His guidance, I have seen Him lead me and guide me into the place that I needed to be. It may not have looked like where I needed to be while I was being guided, but later, I could stand back and see how He had used me in that place. Never once did I ever walk alone. And although things didn’t look like what I thought they would, God was definitely working. And this is how I know…
Way back in the spring, I realized that I had gotten everything I went to Atlanta to get. I knew that that season was over and that I didn’t want to be there or at home. So I prayed a lot, begging God to place me in a new environment. So I waited, and when God didn’t open the door I thought He would use to move me, I thought that He was choosing to ignore that prayer and gave up on it completely. Once summer rolled around, I applied everywhere and nothing worked out. Even the interviews that I went on where things looked good or where I was overqualified fell through. I had no idea what God was doing. But in the midst of all the disappointment and constant questions about whether “I had found a job yet” by those around me, I continued to pray and stay in the Word. Then somewhat out of nowhere, I was inspired by God to read the entire book of Acts. I studied it and was completely blown away by what a genuine body of believers could do for God. I became enthralled by the idea of Christian community and very aware of the lack of it in my own life.
A few weeks after that, my mom tells me about a job opening near Philadelphia that I am qualified for that would allow me to live closer to family. I was somewhat reluctant to complete the application, but because my mom suggested it, I did it anyway. Two weeks after that, I arrived in Pennsylvania for my last interview and got the job. Once I started working, I realized how blessed I was. My co-workers are all great, great people and I even have the privilege of working for and with some devoted Christians. Not only do I enjoy what I do, but I have made some real friends while working. Life-long friends. And, God is so good that He is giving me the opportunity to apply to a different job within my company that would allow me to use my degree and do something I am passionate about. Normally, one would have to wait 6 months to switch departments but that is not the case for this position. Only God.
And lastly, a couple weeks ago while at church, I finally caught up with my senior pastor and began to talk with her about how I truly believe that God had prepared a place for me here even before I knew about the job or thought about moving here. I shared with her that I loved what I do, that I love being close to family and even how blessed I was to have been led to this particular church. I told her about how I wanted community with young adults in Atlanta but struggled to find it and how God had practically whispered in my ear a week before during service to show me that He wanted me here at this time for a special purpose and how it moved me to tears. Then I told her about how He lead me to study the entire book of Acts this summer. Her eyes lit up and she told me that God had lead them to study the book of Acts for the entire first year and a half of their church. They were studying Acts while I was asking God to direct my post-graduation plans. This sealed everything for me.
I know that the 20s are not an easy time in life because I am living through them. There is the quarter-life crisis, getting established, expectations, educational decisions, relationships, marriage and children for some, paying back loans for others, a crazy job market and many other daunting things ahead. But God is a faithful guide. Never once will we ever walk alone. Even when things look uncertain, unsure and unstable, God is there clearing a path, preparing the way and ordering steps for us. So if you find yourself in a place that does not look like what you thought it would, just continue to trust Him because He is likely still working on your behalf. And don’t let the opinions of others or fear of man keep you from being where God is trying to place you. Consider God’s opinions above all others. And lastly, remember that salvation is more important to Him than anything else. He is here to guide us into all truth, not all riches, popularity or happiness. Truth. Remember that.
Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. – Proverbs 3:5,6 AMP
“Don’t marry a marginally-Christian man. Some women want to be married enough that they’re willing to settle for this man who is just squeaking by. ‘He says he’s a Christian, I don’t think he can provide any spiritual leadership at all, I don’t even know if he’s solid but he just says the right words.’ I just want to encourage women, pray that God would lead to a man you can trust; a deeply Christian man.
A great quote from Pastor John Piper on the kind of men women should marry. Full message here.