Ever go driving down a country or wooded road late at night? You’re surrounded by darkness. You might see some houses, stores, and slight hints at civilization, but you are mostly surrounded by trees or fields with the only light coming from your headlights and the starry night sky. Those moments of driving like that are among my favorite moments to think. They are my favorite moments to just let what is going on in my life resonate within me. As of late, I feel that these very moments are metaphorically my life.
I feel like my life is surrounded by unknown. I’m traveling down a road with limited signage. Its dimly lit. But amidst the darkness and lack of direction, there is such beauty.
That is exactly my life in this moment.
Six months ago, I felt that not only did I need change, I desperately needed it. I was ending my third year as a youth pastor at church. I’m going to be honest. I liked the church, loved getting to invest in the students, but it was not for me. My parents were my senior pastors. There was a severe lack of young adult presence. Every one and quite literally their mother, including my own, made it their mission to tell me of every single male they knew of and how perfect we could be together. Granted the experience was one full of learning and gaining of understanding, and for that I am so completely grateful. I got to meet and work with some great people and awesome students. During my years there, I was faced with many challenges, moments that made me want to quit, days that made me want to leave ministry. And to be even more honest, that is ministry pretty much anywhere. Within those three years at the church, I felt as though I was made for something else. Something different. I always thought it was missions. I always assumed that was the direction God was taking me because it made sense. Working in a church did not make any sense to me. Living in the crazy madness of some foreign culture made sense.
God has a funny way of showing us different.
In August of last summer, I made the decision to officially resign. It was a decision I had been praying about for a while, but never felt peace about completely leaving yet. I was worried for my youth. I loved them and had invested so much into their lives. I did not want to walk away to quickly. But by August, I knew it was time. I actually put in my resignation believing completely that I would be hired at a job in Florida that was certain, only it turned out that was seemed like a sure thing, completely failed. By that point I was now with a job prospect and was fully in my resignation. I felt like I needed to move forward with my resignation and see what God wanted to do in my life. It was completely dangerous, risky faith…faith trusting God knowing full well my life was about to shaken. I was certain that this, this time, was God opening the opportunity for missions or non-profit work [hopefully] overseas. But job rejection after rejection proved otherwise. It proved that my plan was not working. It proved that my idea of what my life looked like did not match God’s desire for my life. I told God I did not want to work in a church again. I told God I wanted missions work or work with anti-trafficking efforts. I told God I wanted a job that paid “x” amount of dollars. I told God… and it did not happen that way.
In fact, I found myself in December, having moved back in with my parents- relinquishing my lovely apartment, without a career, working 40 hours a week at Starbucks, barely making ends meet to pay loans, and without a single bit of direction. Four months of this and I was done. I was sick and tired of job rejections of jobs that I should have gotten without a doubt. But then I remembered something I had prayed back in August…I basically had prayed “God, if this job or any other job are not what you want for me, make it very clear and make no sense as to why I do not get hired”. Talk about not making sense. I told God [yes, very firmly actually] in December that I was done looking for a job. I was done trying to make it happen. I was done trying to figure out. I told him that he needed to give me a job. Period.
Sometimes, us getting out of the way is exactly what needs to happen for God to actually move in our lives.
Within two weeks of my demanding a job and basically being in a place of broken desperation for God to “do something” [another dangerous and risky prayer], my friend- a youth pastor/interim senior pastor- called me with a job offer to temporarily help run the youth program at the church. Not what I expected. Not what I wanted…six months ago. But when we get out of the way, God really does something. Sometimes we block with our own best intentions God’s best intentions. Immediately I felt a peace about telling my friend yes. I couldn’t explain it; I just knew that it was right. I knew that it was God’s way of saying he had not forgotten me or my desires and needs.
I know, two months into this job at the church, still face much uncertainty. But this time, its different. This time its a faith that is new to me. This church is where I need to be because its where God wants me. I didn’t want to work in another church. God had a different plan. I’m glad I listened. I wanted a job in missions or non-profit. I’m glad God is directing me in that while leading me at this church. Honestly, even just one month from now, my may look different. I don’t have answers to my own questions. I don’t have direction. A new senior pastor could be voted in, and I then become with my job. They may want to hire someone else. They may want to reformat the structure of the staff. They may want to do a lot of things, all of which I cannot worry about right now. Right here, right now, this is where I am because this is where I feel God has placed me. I don’t have the certainty of knowing what will happen with my job at the church. I don’t have the answer as to how long I’ll continue to be a barista.
I have a ton of questions. I have a ton of things that I would LOVE to know what is happening or knowing God’s plan. There are some things personally [non-ministry] that I would love to happen but I need to be patient and trust God even in these areas. I keep praying “God surprise me!” and he does. I have unknown before me- like the unknown, dimly lit country roads I drive on a lot. But there is still beauty in all of this. Just like the starry night sky, there is beauty in not seeing everything in God’s plan right now. There is beauty in letting the stars be exposed throughout the course of the night. There is beauty in seeing from a perspective of faith and trust. I have been praying some dangerous risky prayers…prayers that shake me, challenge me, and strengthen me. Prayers that say to God that he can do whatever he wants. I dare you to try it and see what he will do.