There have been many times in my life where I thought that I heard from God, did what I thought I was supposed to do, and then watched it go up in flames. Let me tell you a couple of stories.
About 3-4 years ago, my wife and I were intensely focused on buying a house. We had gone through a credit rehabilitation ordeal and our scores were right where they were supposed to be in order to realize a long-held dream of ours. Our broker told us to go out and start looking at homes, and so we did. We looked at many homes, but specifically, homes that were close to our church, because our lives centered, and in many ways still center, around our church lives. We found this house in a subdivision that was just being built up. It was a gorgeous area with a park within walking distance. A friend of ours showed us this house, and as soon as we walked in, we knew that this was “the one”. I remember with such clarity one day looking at the house again, for the 4th time, and as we drove away from it, I so strongly felt the presence of God that I wept. Deep, chest-racking sobs that I could not explain. They were happy tears. My wife had the same reaction. We both felt like God had set this house aside for us. And we were grateful. As often as we could, we would go to the property and sit in the parking lot and pray, and imagine all of the things that we wanted to do with that house. Imagine our deep despair when not only did our broker tell us that we couldn’t get a loan after he had told us that we were a shoo-in, and that same day the house sold. Driving there and seeing the FOR SALE sign gone, that was a very low moment for us. What we struggled to understand was how we could have felt God so strongly there, and both had the assurance that this was God’s will, only to have to watch it burn to the ground before our eyes. it felt unnecessarily cruel. And as much as I questioned God on it, I never received any response that I could decipher to dispell my grief. I still think about that to this day. Why would God allow us to get our hopes up, and engage our faith to such a degree, and then things work out differently, or not at all?
A couple of weeks ago, I applied for a different job in the same school district. I love my present building, but this open job was one that had come open a few times before, and I had always psyched myself out of applying because I didn’t think that I had the stones to be successful there. This time, I thought about all of the times that I have pushed my wife, children, and students to press past their fears and go after what they desire. To have belief in themselves. I decided to take my own advice, and after praying, I felt really great about my chances. I knew that I would see old students and I was excited about the prospect of having another chance to pour into their lives. I hurried and put in my application before I lost my nerve. I had a great interview, and walking around the building, I felt really good about making the move, while I knew that I would really miss my current building and coworkers. But I felt peace about the process. On Friday, I got the news that they had chosen to go in a different direction. I wavered between anger and confusion. Over the course of the weekend, I thought that I had worked through my disappointment, but as I saw students and they asked me if I was moving into their building, I could feel the anger coming back. At graduation, a couple of people actually congratulated me on getting the job until I had to tell them that I hadn’t. Yeah..fun times. As Monday approached, I felt my anger returning, so I did the only thing that I could do. I talked to God about it. I asked him WHY? Why did He give me peace about applying, and even peace about making the move, and not finish the process? It hurt. And as I poured my heart out to God, I felt no better at all. I couldn’t figure out whether I had failed somewhere in the process. Or if my faith hadn’t been great enough. or if I hadn’t waited patiently. My comfort came in knowing that I still had my building, which I love. And coworkers that I absolutely adore.
So what comes next? What happens when we think that we are following the will of God, and success is assured, only to find failure? Is it really a failure? See, that is where I struggle. Part of me knows that the success is in engaging my faith and daring to believe. The other part of me almost feels like God let me down, which I know is not Biblical. God never fails. So the failure must have been on my part, right? But see, that still doesn’t jive with my spirit. I took a step out of the boat. I tried to walk on water.
Yesterday, my wife sent me an email that basically told me that when we say yes to God, we aren’t saying yes to a particular outcome. We are saying YES to His process and His plan. No matter how individual circumstances turn out, the YES still holds. The faith still holds. His plans still hold. We can’t be short-sighted about the individual outcome and not look at the long-term plan. Yes, feeling the anger and confusion is normal, but we can not allow ourselves to be distracted from the long-term plan, which we often can not see, because of short-term disappointment.
That is hard truth. But the truth, nonetheless, and there is peace in it. I’m often guilty of focusing on the immediate and not thinking about the eternal. Lord, fix my sight. These pit stops hurt. They really hurt, but I trust that God is working a greater plan, and I have to be able to really engage my faith in the eternal plan.
And so do you. I hope that this really helped someone else this morning. If it does, share it! Thank you.
Be blessed, fam.