(Note: My posts usually are not this long! Sorry!)
I wonder how many Christians really trust God. Depending on where I am when I think about this, I end up with different answers. I can be in one setting where I feel most Christians must find this easy, while in other settings it seems there are more people having trouble with it than mastering it. Trust.
It’s a hard concept, even when applied to family and close friends, but when applied to an invisible God, it becomes just that much harder. Even within churches, the amount of trust you find may vary constantly. It’s important for all Christians to work on building up their trust in God, but lately I’ve been thinking about how crucial it is for those of us who are also in or associated with the military.
My Lessons In Trust
The truth is that I strayed from God for several years during my teenage-hood, but even before that, I had never firmly placed my trust in God. Faith, yes. Trust, no. It was after I came back from what I call my time of wandering that God began teaching me to lean on him in ways I never had before. Here are two lessons combined together: the couch and the job.
In wanting, praying for, and seeking a clerical job, I put in resumes at almost all the doctors’ offices in my city, and within days I was hired at an office looking only for part-time summer help. I’ll take it! I did take it. But the pay was low, and they weren’t planning to keep me for long.
Two or three months later, I got a call from another office at which I’d applied, and they asked me (months later) whether I was still looking for a job. Telling God I gave him full credit for this amazing opportunity, I went to the interview and took the job. They started me as part time, so as not to interfere with my current job, and they paid me as much as my current job while promising to bump me up to full time and higher pay within a very short time frame. I thanked God profusely, maybe truly meaning my thanks for one of the first times in my life. This, I thought, was surely not coincidence. This was God providing for me! I knew it.
Excited about my new, high-paying job, I started thinking about the possibilities for moving out of my parents’ house. This was something on my mind constantly at that time. It was on my mind partially because I wanted to be independent but mostly because my parents were planning to move out of state as soon as their house sold, and if it sold while I was still unable to afford living alone, I would have to go with them. I ended up going with my co-worker and friend Kellie to Goodwill during a lunch break at my original clerical job, and while I was there I spotted the perfect couch. It was cheap, it was comfy, it didn’t smell like cigarettes, and I wanted it! I called my mom, and she agreed to meet me at the store after work to look at it and decide whether I could keep it at their house until I moved out.
Mom came, and we looked at the couch again. While she agreed that it was nice, she suggested that instead of buying it right away, with money I knew I would have in the future but did not have yet, I should go home and pray about it for a day. At home, I waited a few hours, then asked her again what she thought.
Had I prayed about it? No, Mom, I hadn’t prayed about it yet (said with a sigh). I went back to my room, laid on my bed, and asked God what to do. I hadn’t prayed – really prayed – in years, though I had begun going back to church not too far prior to all of this. Not only that, but it was the first time I remembered just asking God what to do without asking for the result I wanted.
Guess what happened.
He didn’t answer me. He didn’t speak into my head or give me a strong feeling of what he wanted. I got up from my prayer time just as confused and hopeful as before.
The next day I actually forgot all about the couch until my Mom called me at work. She asked whether I would like for my step dad and her to come with me after work to pick up the couch, and I said sure. When we got to Goodwill, though, the couch had already been sold. Normally this would have disappointed me, but for once I recognized it for what it was – God’s answer to my question. Should I get this couch? No? Okay, then.
First day on the job. I hated it.
High pace, high stress office with rude co-workers. I did not even meet the doctor I was working for, and got very little training before being left almost on my own. I was given no breaks throughout the day. I went home feeling very let down, and as I had a day or two off before I would be going back to that office, I began to wonder whether it would be okay to just quit. But no. I had told myself it was an opportunity from God. How could I simply quit and throw it away without giving it a real chance? I determined to stick with it and see what God had for me there, and so, on my second day, after sitting in the car for a few minutes dreading what I had to do, I took a deep breath and headed in to work.
I made it about half the day (just as rotten as the first) before I was called to the back to speak with my office manager and direct supervisor. They told me that I displayed a poor attitude and poor customer service, or something like that, and they said that I could go. Stunned, insulted, but far from disappointed, I took my check for the hours worked and went home. I didn’t understand what had happened aside from the fact that God had given me an opportunity, I had trusted him to show me his purpose in it, and then he took it away.
It was within the next week or two that my office manager at the original job told me that they liked me so much, they wanted me to stay beyond the summer. They upped my pay and hours, and they hired me as a permanent employee. I stayed at this job for two more years, until I married and moved away, and I loved it almost every day. 🙂
How Great He Is
I’m not saying I’ve arrived or that I never have trouble trusting. I still question God, and I still try to push for my desires whether or not they are in his plan. But I can say that over the course of the last three years, he has brought me to trust in him more than I ever have before. More than I’ve ever trusted another human being. Above all, I know that he intends only good for me and that all good things come from above, from his hand. Verses that were only nice words now have meaning to me.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
–James 1:17 (NIV)
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
–Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way…”
–Psalm 37:23 (ESV)
Staying Sane in the Military
More than ever before, more than during any other trial in my life, I have a need for this trust as I face day to day life in the military. While trying to make plans for our lives, for family time, for traveling, for where we live, I must constantly remember that God knows what he is doing.
When I got married, I didn’t know that Hubby’s deployment would be moved up, but God knew. Hubby and I didn’t know it would be so difficult to get into Warrant Officer school; there were problems we didn’t foresee, dumb things that are irritating and annoying because they’re ruining our plans. But all along, God knew these things would come up. He didn’t tell us they were coming, but he planned for them being there – they aren’t a surprise to him. We trust him, every day, to get us through, to show us the path we sometimes cannot see that will lead to our planned destination. We also trust him if he decides to say, “Hey, that destination isn’t exactly what I had planned. Keep following me, though, and I’ll take you some place better.”
It hurts me sometimes that I can’t pass on this same peaceful trust to others! Sometimes I have a hard time understanding (or rather remembering, since I, too, stood in that place), how people can doubt. Don’t they know God’s way is better than their way? Don’t they trust him to take care of them? I can’t force anyone to believe, but I can continue praying for them.
Please, do share your thoughts in the comments! Was there a period in your life that you’re aware of God bringing you to a better trust in him? Are you still waiting for him to teach you how? I was there, too. For a long time, I wanted to believe, but I just didn’t, not quite.
Sorry for the crazy long post!!!