I forgot to turn off my alarm.
The same alarm that has sounded at 5:50 A.M. for nearly all of my 20-years of gainful employment rang this morning at exactly the same time it has rung every morning. And, as always, I turned it off in a sleepy stupor with thoughts of how early I should go to bed tonight to prevent this same sleepy stupor tomorrow morning. As is my morning routine, I rolled over, pulled the quilt around my shoulders tighter and took stock of what the day would look like for me: what meetings I’d attend, whose needs were priority, how I could get to one building in time to catch one person and still make it to another building for a meeting with this other group of people. And that’s when reality struck: I had no where to be and no one with whom to meet.
I was, for the first day in my entire twenty-year career of employment, since I graduated from undergraduate school back in 2001, unemployed.
I hadn’t been happy in my job for some time. And, through some hard knocks, painful shaping on the anvil, and a whole lot of Holy Spirit, I could see clearly that my joy and value and worth was totally and completely wrapped up in what people thought about me and the work I did, and something had to change.
The Bible teaches us that if we built our house – not really just a house but our lives or our careers or our family or our wants and wishes – on the sinking sand of pleasing man and trying to stay in step with the world, our house will, eventually fall, and I could feel the walls of my house giving way.
I had, for some time, been feeling God’s nudge that it was time to move on to a place where my house could withstand the charging winds and debilitating sun. My spirit was pointing out that my joy would come when I put myself in a place, a position, a posture, that would provide the best environment for God’s gifts and strengths to grow and flourish within me. …and that environment wasn’t where I was currently working.
So, I hit the gas pedal on looking for a new job. I dutifully completed and submitted hundreds of applications. I went on tons of first- and second-level interviews. I even made it to the final round of several jobs. But, nothing came through for me.
About six weeks ago, I hit my knees in petition to God. Seven months into “Operation Get A New Job”, and the fruit of my labor wasn’t showing. I had nothing. What in the world?! I could feel His nudges to leave and had put in the work to find my next place of employment. Why wasn’t this all coming to fruition? What was I doing wrong? And, where was God?
There’s a story in the Bible of a group of fishermen who have been out in the Sea of Galilee all night but have caught no fish. Jesus meets up with these disappointed fishermen and directs them to cast their fishing nets into the lake on the other side of the boat. He tells them that if they do this, they’ll catch more fish than they can pull up out of the water. The men do as instructed and watch as the nets begin to break under the weight of the amount of fish they caught. (John 21:1-9)
I happen to believe that it wasn’t that the fishermen were fishing in the wrong place all night. And, I don’t think that Jesus pointed them to the spot where the fish were biting. These were experienced fishermen who spent all night fishing. They knew what they were doing. They’d, likely, already dropped their nets in that very same spot at some point in the night. I think the power and magnitude of the moment is that they’d exhausted all their efforts and upon hearing Jesus’ commands they acted immediately, the fish crowded their nets, because that’s what God does when His children are obedient to the teachings of Jesus; He blesses them with more than they could ask or imagine.
And, so, because I grew up in church and read the Bible every day, I asked God in a very undignified, know-it-all prayer, “God! Where is my job?! Am I putting my net in the water on the wrong side of the boat? Tell me which side! I’ll drop my nets wherever you tell me!”
The story from the Bible of these fishermen and their loaded nets would take on a different tone if Jesus had commanded them not to drop their nets on a different side of the boat, but to stop fishing, altogether. If instead of an alternate way to catch fish, Jesus called the fishermen to come ashore and leave their boats, the fisher men might have gawked a little. They might have sat back on their haunches and considered the effects of doing such a thing. They might have calculated this month’s rent and an empty pantry, and they might have worried about the loan they took out earlier that was coming due. They might have considered how the couch slept since that’s surely where they’d sleep once their wife found out they’d not made a dime that night and had stopped fishing because that’s what Jesus had told them to do. The story would have had a different ring; it would have been swallowed differently, don’t you think?
That being true and understandably hard to do, had Jesus called those fishermen to leave their boats and stop fishing, God would have filled their nets in some other way because that’s what God does. When His children are obedient to the teachings of Jesus, to His call on their life, God blesses them with more than they can ask or imagine.
In a quiet whisper, early one morning, six weeks ago, I heard God tell me, in my spirit, “I told you it was time to leave; I didn’t say you needed to get a new job.”
God called me to step away from my boat and to stop fishing.
As I’m sure those fishermen would have done if the instructions had been different, I told God about rent and an empty pantry and my debt and how upset my dad would be. I told Him that it seemed irresponsible and not really socially acceptable. I told Him that I was scared and had trust issues with not being in control of situations. The only response I got from God on all of these really solid reasons NOT to follow Him was a quiet but steadfast, “I know.”
So, a little over two weeks ago, I resigned at my job. Yesterday was my last day.
…and today is my first day of unemployment.
I have no idea what God is doing.
I have thoughts of being an Educational Tech Consultant and creating an online Digital Citizenship course and writing a book about my Grandpa Arthur.
But, the truth is, the only thing for sure thing I know to do is to write. That’s what God has called me to do. And, I am leaning into and believing that because I have followed His command in obedience, He will bless me with more than I can ask or imagine.
What has God called you to do? Are you doing it? What is standing in your way?