Twenty-eight years ago today, I sat alone at our kitchen table in a quiet house. It was the first day of school. Each of our three children had been delivered to their classrooms for second, fifth, and eighth grades.
I hadn’t expected to be home alone that day; my plan had included my own class of elementary students. For thirteen years I’d focused on raising our three, and had taken a hiatus from teaching.
Two years prior I’d returned to work part-time, and taken classes to update my teaching certificate. Then came resume-writing and the application process. I also started substitute teaching, in order to become known within the district.
But few positions were posted. A candidate with no recent experience was probably shuffled to the bottom of the resume pile. I did not receive one call for an interview.
Frustration and depression clouded my spirit. Yes, the part-time job was still available (come October), but part-time pay was not going to cover college expenses for our three children. It was time to grow the retirement nest egg, too.
That morning, I wrote the following in my journal (with some recent editing!):
Today is the first day of school and I am without a teaching position. Needless to say, I‘m frustrated, depressed, and confused. Why did I put myself through such a hectic schedule last year, working part-time and going to school? Why did I not receive even one call for an interview? What am I doing wrong? Am I supposed to be pursuing something else?
These kinds of questions have plagued me for days.
Yet, Lord, you are in control, and you always work things out for my good (Romans 8:28). Intellectually I know that’s true, but emotionally I’m still struggling.
Then last night, you led me to that article in Decision Magazine, written by the young woman who’d been ordained a minister, but had no church to pastor.
She said, “I just don’t get it. I told a group of friends, ‘God has given me a marvelous vision for my life, so much encouragement and training. But now it’s as if he has put me on a shelf. My talents are being wasted.’ ”
Months earlier someone had told her she’d have a long and illustrious career. Articles were written about her achievements. There were awards.
“But circumstances suddenly turned against me. My search for a position went unrewarded. I asked the Lord to intervene. He was silent.”
The article included highlights from the story of Joseph. He endured much greater tribulation than just waiting. And though Joseph, too, must have had questions, he refused to quit believing.
The author expressed questions of her own:
“When God reveals his plans for us, aren’t the paths we take supposed to be smooth and sure? Shouldn’t we go from Point A to Point B without a hassle? Apparently not.”
Again, Joseph and countless others are our examples. Yet I was beginning to think that because no teaching position had opened up, my desire to return to the classroom was misguided, that somewhere I’d gone wrong.
But this author says: “When we encounter seemingly insurmountable difficulties in striving to do God’s will, we may be certain that it is all part of a greater plan.”
And then she quoted Romans 8:28. M-m-m. The same verse you’ve been whispering to me.
In closing the author said, “The story of Joseph taught me the importance of putting my total trust in the Lord at all times and leaving it there, especially when the path ahead is covered by fog.
“Following Jesus is an adventure in living…At times we are confused by delays and detours. We may think God is remote. Yet the more intimate our relationship with the Master becomes, the more we will trust him for the business of our lives.”
Oh, Lord, thank you for speaking to me so directly through this timely article.
“I WILL wait on you; I will (try to!) be courageous and allow you to strengthen my heart” (Psalm 27:14).
The following Monday, August 31, I began a one-week substitute job at a nearby elementary school. I’d subbed there before.
On September 11, the principal offered me a position; one of the third grade teachers was moving to another school.
I stood before my own class on September 15, breathless from the quick reversal of circumstances.
But my questions were never answered. I don’t know if my resume was faulty. I don’t know why no one called for an interview. I don’t know why God didn’t open up a position sooner.
Here’s what I do know:
- In that time of delay and disappointment, I experienced a small miracle. Through that article I just happened to read, he provided the peace, hope, and comfort I needed.
- God was perfecting my ability to trust in him—no matter what.
- · He was also perfecting patience, humility, and submission.
Important lessons, right?
Note to self: When Plan A does not unfold, it is likely a greater plan is being fulfilled. Our Plan A is often circumstantial; God’s greater plan is most often spiritual.
Can I submit to that?