Pack up & get moving! – A pep talk for when God says “no” (or worse, “nothing”)

Once there was this job I thought was surely mine. I hadn’t even graduated college yet and I really wanted it (I thought I did anyways), but that job was not mine. It was my first big rejection and it wasn’t fun. When I didn’t land that job I was embarrassed and even a little surprised… Obviously it was a good opportunity to learn some humility (and a few other things too). It was also an opportunity to get familiar with “no.” Right then and there, my relationship with that word changed and I started learning a big lesson that day: We have already been given the biggest “yes” there ever was or will be. So that rejection we face? It’s an invitation to God’s best. The “no’s” aren’t easy, but they’re not ours to understand. What the enemy wants us to see as a dead end, God wants to use as a road sign on the way to our destination. It’s not our responsibility to know the big picture and we won’t discover it sitting around wondering. It’s our responsibility to show up today and live like Jesus – To stop worrying about what He want’s us to do someday and start obeying what He asks us to do today. To stop wishing for more and to start stewarding the plenty He’s given us. To stop hoping for greater influence and to start loving the people He’s placed right in front of us. That’s what the big picture is made up of! One day -of faith with action- at a time.

We have already been given the biggest “yes” there ever was or will be.

That “no” led me to start a “fall back” job in an elementary school and a season I viewed as a filler year turned out to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. It was a year filled with relationships that blessed my life and encouraged me on a daily basis. A year of learning about strengths I didn’t know I had and getting to know myself with new confidence that emboldened me for the next season. But still, it wasn’t my dream. So when another opportunity at that same job I was rejected for rolled around and I was still teaching 2nd graders yoga (seriously, that was actually a blast!) I went for it again. Just like the first time, I wanted that job, but I never felt a peace about it. Maybe I wanted it to prove I could get it – I’m not sure, but the moment I decided to listen to the unrest I felt; to listen to God’s “no” and decline to move forward, I got that peace I’d been hoping for. I knew it was the right thing, but it freaked me out. I knew that wasn’t my “yes,” but I had no idea what was. And it turns out, that was the best place to be. 

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My son is only one year old and already, he hates being told “no.” Thankfully, babies have a pretty short attention span. He whines a bit, but moves on. I’d like to think he trusts that I know best, but really he probably forgets. 😉 Put food in front of that boy, on the other hand, and ask him to wait 30 seconds – he will lose. his. cool. You’d honestly think we never feed him. He knows there’s food, he wants that food, and he wants it when he thinks is best – right this second! He’s hungry, but he thinks he’s starving! As his mom I just wish he understood that it’s coming and I want to give it to him. I wish he knew that I only take the time to prepare because it will make his life better in the long run. I wish he could figure out the concept that it’s already there. I’m already planning to give it to him when the time is right and he will be okay until then… Are you picking up my metaphor? It’s amazing what lessons God can teach you through the life of a little baby if you slow down to listen. 

Before he even knows that he knows, my son understands one of the biggest challenges between a child and their parent. It’s one of the greatest struggles we have with our heavenly father, too. The only thing more frustrating that hearing “no” is hearing “wait” or even worse, hearing nothing and being forced to wait for an answer. 

And there we were.

I kept on teaching third grade math and subbing in kindergarten classes and being reminded that God means it when He says He’ll provide for us. Jordan and I were living in this little apartment in a retirement community (where we ironically fit in great) and mixed in with a whole lot of joy was a ton of questions. We’d both graduated college with big dreams and less direction than ever. Jordan had completely changed the course of his education and career path and, while we were both in places we enjoyed and experiencing favor, we felt stuck. For two achievement motivated planners, those years were uncomfortable (to put it nicely 😉 ). We prayed and wondered and applied and prayed some more and nothing. happened. It was one of those times you wonder what the heck God is doing because it seems like nothing. God showed up in our finances providing for us miraculously at times. He blessed us with friendships and growth in our marriage, but He also felt quiet in a way that made me cry ugly tears a lot that year. I clung to the words, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14) His word was right and He taught me what a still heart looks like through that season, but at some point stillness didn’t seem to be what God was asking from me anymore. 

I reached a place of restlessness that pushed me into action and without thinking much about it’s implications for my future, I started driving an hour+ one night a week to volunteer at the nearest children’s hospital. It was the closest thing I had to a dream career and to me that seemed like the best way to get my foot in the door. It worked! A couple months into volunteering I heard there was an opening for a practicum with the Child Life therapy team and the application deadline had closed, but I went for it anyway. My app. read something like, “I know I missed the date to apply, but here’s why you should choose me anyway…” and they did! It was only a few months long and I still had no idea what came next, but when I walked through the doors of that hospital I felt that peace I was missing (and it sure wasn’t because I was prepared). It turned out to be that very experience that gave me a new passion for my future and led to working a dream job not too long after… but not without another leap of faith or two!

The practicum was over, school was out for the summer, our lease was ending, and we didn’t know what was next, but we knew staying put wasn’t an option. Our sense that there was something more out there for us made us more bold than ever and I still look back at the next phase of our life and can’t believe we did it, but we did. We moved out of our apartment without a place to live lined up. We packed up everything we owned and, minus a couple of suitcases, we rented a storage unit where it all stayed. Our grand plan was to go camping. To just get away. To remove ourselves from the situation and the trying because clearly it wasn’t working. It sounds crazy to me now and people probably thought we were a little nuts, but we figured after camping for a while, we’d stay with family if we needed to… we didn’t really have a plan after that because we honestly didn’t think we’d need one. We just believed, without a doubt, that we would return from that camping trip with new direction from God. 

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After hours on the road, we arrived in California for our adventure in the Red Woods – something we’d always wanted to do together! We made a deal with each other: one more afternoon in a Starbucks to send out our last round of applications. There was one job in particular I just couldn’t not apply for. I didn’t meet the qualifications, but there was no job I wanted more. “Coincidentally,” that very job opening was to fill the roll of a woman I’d interviewed for a college paper, years earlier, when she was serving the child of our friends (but I didn’t know that at the time!) We agreed to those last hours of work and then to let it go. To officially give over our dreams and hopes and prayers to God and enjoy each other with out phone service or worry about the future. We adventured and read books out loud and played games and ate tons of s’mores and I will always look back on that week as one of the best we’ve ever shared. 

We were strolling through a random zoo in Northern California when Jordan got our game changer phone call. An interview we had to change our plans and head home for because it was on Monday! We got to town just in time and prayed he would receive that job on the spot. Our naive selves had no clue how unrealistic that prayer was, but we know a God characterized by the unrealistic and improbable! He was offered that job on the spot. It still makes no sense, but that interview laid the foundation for the career marked with favor and provision that Jordan continues to grow in. (The testimony of God’s work through Jordan’s job is a story all it’s own!) I got my interview with that dream job a little bit later and after that, the job offer! I had never felt more at peace and right in the middle of God’s leadership than in the year that followed. I think it’s because I’ve never been so desperate for Him to lead. There was no other option. And never before had I believed He would guide us like in that season. 

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Once I read a quote from Bob Goff, “What a shame it would be if we were waiting for God to say something, while He’s been waiting on us to do something.” It’s one of the most convicting questions I’ve ever heard. I’m a play it safe gal. I create a plan and weigh pros and cons and don’t often try something new unless I know it will work out with the best possible outcome. So that girl that moved out with no plan and put all her belongings in a storage unit, just believing it would all work out, that is not me. But it was. Because I had reached a what-have-we-got-to-lose place that creates a faith mindset like nothing else. I don’t wish for that challenging time and we’re regularly blown away by the ways we see God provide and direct us today, but there’s nothing sweeter than the closeness that comes with a complete reliance on God for what tomorrow will hold. 

This story of getting from there to here is my favorite story to tell. It’s a little crazy and it even makes me kind of proud of our younger selves. I admire that desperate version of me and the faith we embodied in that season. Isn’t it funny how we often look back on our most needy days as the one’s God felt closest? Maybe it’s the answer to the raw wonderings about how God could say He uses the worst of the worst for good. Mostly though, this reminds me every time I look back that God has a grand plan for us. Not a small plan that He’ll piece together with the scraps of our qualifications and choices. He has a plan of abundance for each of us. One that graciously involves us in the big picture of His kingdom in spite of our qualifications and choices. Because He already knows about those. His son died to make up for them. Fear of the future and paralysis from worry were conquered there too. You are not asked or expected to continue conquering them. You are invited to live in joy and boldness that comes from the freedom of knowing it’s already done.

So if God really set me apart before I was born to play a role in the greatest love story ever told and if He chooses and Loves me (literally to death) and if He says He will do immeasurably more than everything I could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), who am I to expect small things? Who am I to worry about what’s ahead or believe the lie that my life might be insignificant? The same one who called Peter out of the boat might be calling you out of your comfort zone too!

Every big “ah ha” moment that I can point back to and see God moving has been while I was waiting in action; unsure of where He’s called me next, but working confidently where He’s placed me today. That’s the way Jesus lived. Obediently and available to love the people who crossed his path each day. He walked boldly, selflessly, and faithfully with complete confidence in the One who sent Him. Some days He led thousands with miracles, others He quietly met the needs of one. They might not all be storage-unit-road-trip moments, but there’s a calling for today that matters for the rest! All we have to do move. 

My life wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t make that move 3 years ago – if we didn’t step out in faith and trust that God’s best “yes” for our life was waiting for us outside of our comfort zone. There have been plenty of waiting seasons since 2016, but there’s power in recalling God’s faithfulness and praising Him because you know He’ll be faithful again. Celebrating answered prayers is fuel for faith, but nothing refines it like finding joy and peace and confidence while you wait for those answers. Don’t let what seems like silence from God hold you back from the greatness you were created for. Good things take time. That silence might be on purpose to prepare you for your purpose! So walk in your calling today. God’s got tomorrow taken care of.

Wait in action!

I so hope this part of our testimony could be encouraging to you! If it was, share it on facebook or send it to a friend to remind them God is working all things together for their good and His glory! (Romans 8:28) May we never be too rooted in today or too worried about tomorrow that we forget our calling for eternity! 

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