'The Lord said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.' 1 Kings 19:11-12
In church we talk about walking with the Lord and hearing the Lord. I often wonder how much I actually hear the Lord and how much is just my thoughts? My husband set me a challenge at the beginning of the summer holidays - he encouraged me to deepen my faith with the Lord. It made me think, in my busy life when do I find time to hear the quiet voice of the Lord? When praying do I hear God’s response to the questions that I desperately need answering? How do I handle difficult situations, relationships, where does church fit in to my daily life with work and a family? Work and life often crowd out time with God and, as a busy mum, this can make me feel bad, so I took my husband’s challenge as a good opportunity to change what I feel.
I am an early riser and would normally use the time before anyone surfaced to get on with a few chores. Instead of getting waylaid and engrossed in everyday jobs, I got into the habit of taking my morning coffee and having time with the Lord at the bottom of my beautiful garden. The sound of the birds was incredibly peaceful, and I found myself being quiet and rested in a way that I’d never really experienced before. I was going to need that stillness as it was vital to hear God’s voice for our specific situation this summer.
Recently our family have experienced some big changes. I have three children who attended a local primary school where I worked as a Teaching Assistant for four years. All three children have moved schools this September. The oldest to secondary school and the two youngest to a different primary school, a forty minute drive from our home. My job in their previous school enabled me to be part of their schooling and watch them grow and learn and have fun. With the changes, I knew it was time to move on and in June I started looking for my new ‘perfect job’.
I have a list of criteria for my new job to make it work for us as a family. Due to the long commute from home I have very specific requirements; the job has to be in the same area as the children’s schools and the hours need to fit for me to do the school run both ways. I want a job in the education sector so that I can have the holidays with my children and husband and it needs to pay enough so that I don’t need to do extra work to make up the money. Not too much to ask!
Back in June I was told by a lovely lady in my church that she felt I might not find my perfect job till the children were settled in their respective new schools. She said that September or October would be good, as by then they would have had time to establish themselves and feel more comfortable in their daunting new situations. It also meant I could support them during their transitional period without the distraction of starting a new venture straight away. I took this as a word and encouragement from the Lord; not to worry or panic but to trust.
As the summer went on I felt more and more certain that my perfect job hadn’t materialised just yet. In the quiet time I’d set aside for the Lord I had my very natural fears about being jobless put to rest. Instead of fear and anxiety, there grew a quiet and deep assurance that I hadn’t missed it. I still checked the websites regularly and knew I would recognise ‘The One’ when I saw it. I was also confident in God’s ability to give me the best job and fulfil all my requirements and more.
In the last week of the holidays I applied for and was offered a job. It was not ‘The One’ and I called it the interim job. It was a good salary, the right hours and close enough to school, but . . . there were some niggles, having to work all over Christmas and in the holidays being my main one. I felt uncertain about it but the opportunity to be working whilst waiting for ’my perfect job’ was better than being unemployed. Not wanting to make a mistake or get it wrong I sought an answer from the Lord.
Being a Christian means that you give over your life to Jesus. God doesn’t want segments of our lives, he wants it all. I think this is what it means to journey with the Lord. As you journey with the Lord he requires more of your heart and, if you give yourself away, the more you learn about the Father’s heart. Faith becomes solid and reinforces the certainty that he is in control of everything.
I saw my perfect job advertised the day after I was offered the ‘interim job’ and have applied for it. After careful consideration I decided not to accept the interim job. I can’t say I got a clear word, but it does feel right. What I can be sure of is this, even if I don’t get this particular job I don’t need to worry because as long as I continue to seek the Lord, he won’t let me down - it’s all under control. How right my husband was to challenge me to go deeper and hear the Lord.
'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.' Proverbs 3:5-6