Not too long ago I wrote an entire post about the challenge of saying no to a good opportunity because I felt like it wasn’t what God was calling me to. Well, I’m going to be a bit transparent here and confess that I have a bit of a follow up story that I feel compelled to share about. If you didn’t catch it, you can read up on the first part of this story here (otherwise this post won’t make as much sense). Once you’re caught up, here’s part two…
The story picks up when I realized that I unintentionally left my husband out of the decision making process about not pursuing this job opportunity. I had resolved so quickly that I heard God tell me this wasn’t the path for me that I seemingly already had my mind made up by the time I spoke to him (which just so happened to be the day before the initial post about it went live). But in our conversation, he pointed out how he wished he would have been included in the decision. I felt crushed because he was right. I totally didn’t mean to leave him out, but in doing so, I hurt him. As we talked it out and resolved our conflict, we were able to come to a better understanding with each other, but as I processed through where my head was at with him, I felt even more confused about my decision. I was still struggling so much with insecurity over my job status (or lack thereof) and uncertainty of God’s path for me. Which led me to wrestle even more with whether I heard from God, or if it was just my doubts or insecurities getting louder in my head. My word of the year has been obedience, and in this situation I was struggling to determine what the right step was. I kept dwelling on how perfect of an opportunity this would be in our transient life; how fitting of a job it was for me; and how passionate I was about the business I could potentially work for. But I didn’t want to disobey God if He told me no. And to be truly transparent, I wrestled through feeling hypocritical by posting about something on my blog and then following through in the complete opposite way (talk about a twisted form of accountability). But if this was an opportunity God did actually have for me, I didn’t want to miss out just because I spoke too soon. I also uncovered the faltering confidence I had in myself to follow through on what God was calling me to.
If this all sounds like a jumbled, back and forth, mess, then welcome to the fairly normal state of my brain :). As I processed these thoughts on my own and with my husband (don’t worry, I didn’t make the same mistake twice here), it all boiled down to one question for me: Would I be disobedient if I at least tried to pursue this job and see what would happen? Then I could know for sure one way or the other if this was what God had for me.
I decided to pray about it over that weekend to ask for direction on what to do. I prayed expectantly, knowing that if God wanted to be clear with me, then He would be. So I prayed for an obvious answer to whether or not it would be okay for me to apply for the job and let the results that would come be my answer. I prayed over that weekend for God to shut it down or make it really evident if He did not want me to pursue that route. And come Sunday night, I still didn’t have a clear answer one way or the other. So I felt like I was in the clear to go for it, still praying along the way for God to close the door at any point that I would be stepping out of His will.
I spent the next two days putting together my application, updating my resume, and filming an intro video to fulfill the requested requirements, and the more I put into it, the more I became passionate about this job. While I continued to pray through it that God’s will would be done, I expressed to God many times how much I really wanted this job. But because staying in line with God’s will for me felt more important than getting my way, I also prayed that if this was not where God intended me to be right now that He would essentially hide me from the view of the hiring team. And while I felt like the role was perfect for me, I prayed for them to find the person that was perfect for them. I tried my best to go into this with open hands, because I knew that I was essentially testing the waters with it, so I recognized the possibility that the answer would be “no”. And I prayed through my fears with that too. I knew it was going to be so hard to put in all this effort just to get turned down. But the door remained open, so I kept at it until I officially submitted my application and left it in God’s hands.
And then…I waited. The timing of my application fell right amidst a big launch season for the business, so I patiently and anxiously waited for them to wade through this busy time before they turned their attention to filling this position, all the while remaining hopeful about my possible future. After waiting for about 4 weeks, I finally heard from them regarding my application. And as much as I wish this story had a fairy tale ending, I was informed of their decision to go with another candidate. I didn’t even get an interview. I’ll be honest, I was so bummed. I spent the past month and a half thinking and growing passionate about the possibilities of this job. And I didn’t even get a call back. I told my husband, cried it out for about two minutes, and then I laid it all before God. I finally had my clear answer.
In the end, even though it wasn’t the answer I came to hope for, I was still thankful for a decision, because the limbo of it was starting to stress me out. I thought back to my prayers as I entered into this endeavor. I was confident in being the perfect candidate for the position, so I trusted that if I didn’t get the job, it would surely be God closing the door (that may sound a bit prideful, but I just had a lot of confidence in my experience and skills to fit this position). And that’s exactly what He did. He didn’t drag me along through the interview process only to fall more in love with the idea of working for this business and for the amazing woman that runs it. He didn’t lead me to a job offer that He didn’t want me to take in the first place. He gently shut the door and affirmed that the answer was no, at least for now. And I accepted that. It took me a day or two to really leave behind the weight of it, but I accepted it, because I had nothing but truth to turn to anytime I started to feel down about it.
I don’t regret applying. I don’t regret testing God’s will. I think it can feel a little sticky to do that – like, who am I to question God? And is it unfaithful of me to still go for something when I think I heard God say no? I don’t think the answer to that is very clear cut. It’s very gray. Just like so much of life. And at the end of it all, I think I did well to act obediently, even when things were uncertain.
Here’s the thing, God doesn’t give us an exact road map of every step He thinks we should take. If He did, He’d be domineering and abrasive, and we’d be more like robots than humans, and that’s not the God I know. He gave us this gift of free will so that we could choose our own paths, with the hope and desire for us to recognize Him and choose Him anyhow. And without going into a full-on theological discussion about free will, I just want to make the point that God often doesn’t speak clearly about what we’re supposed to do. He equips us to lean on Him and make the best decision possible. In this specific circumstance, I relied on my faith in God’s truths, prayer, and my husband’s insight to determine whether or not this was His path for me – all of which are good things that He has gifted me with to utilize in this life.
The rule follower in me sure wishes I had a black and white instruction manual so I could please God and do everything right in life. But that’s not what God created me for. And that’s not what God saved me for. Jesus is my perfection. And if I don’t have weaknesses; if I don’t make mistakes; if I don’t have some missteps; then I miss out on the wonderful grace and redemption of God. I miss out on the full picture of who God is and who He created me to be.
So even though I took a long detour to get back to an answer that God initially gave me, I came away with more certainty in that answer, and with more certainty that God is for me. He wants good for me. He doesn’t hold out on me. He offers me abundance and wants me to take hold of it. And if I believe all of that, then I can trust that the path He’s leading me on is far better for me in the end than any plan I could create myself. Will there be bumps on that path? Oh I’m sure. It’s typically through the bumps and dips and stumbling blocks that I learn and grow most, which leads me to look even just a bit more like Jesus and glorify Him all the more. That’s the sanctifying journey He’s got me on.
So I share this story to say that sometimes it’s okay to test God’s will. Sometimes it’s okay to explore options to try to determine the best decision. It’s definitely okay to ask God for directions. And sometimes He’ll give them (turns out Him telling me no on the first day this job position came to my attention was accurate), but sometimes He won’t. But as long as we continue to seek Him in the process I think that He will honor the path we’re taking. Of course I want to be a wholehearted, faithful servant always, but sometimes I’m a bit like Thomas, who needed to see the holes in Jesus’ hands and feel the hole in Jesus’ side for himself after the resurrection to confirm his faith (John 20:24-29). Sometimes we feel a need for a little extra evidence to make sense of this God who is so magnificent and wild that our human minds can’t fully understand Him. And even if we don’t get all that we’re looking for, we can still trust that He is good.
I still stand behind what I said in part one of this story, and I 100% believe that we can say no to good things without testing them. But I also believe that God isn’t going to smite me for wanting to be sure of His answer if my end goal is to be obedient. Like I said, there’s no clear cut way to approach situations like this. This situation is unique to me in this exact season of life I’m in. So the same approach likely won’t even work for myself in a different circumstance of life. Just like my approach to this isn’t a step by step process for you to follow in your own life either. But I hope that my experiences, both of saying no to something good, as well as second guessing that no and testing out God’s will for me anyhow, leads you to examine your own approach to life. I pray that you would seek God and long for His plans for you to unfold and trust that they are good, and the rest will eventually fall into place.
Have you ever had a time when you tested God’s will in your life? What was the end result? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Until next time friends,