We don’t know. You know? Even when we think we know, at best we only think. If we presume to know what God’s up to in the circumstances and situations of life, we’re fooling ourselves. It’s one of the coolest things about living a life pursuing His will for our lives. And, one of the scariest.
I just started a new job this week. Seems so straightforward, doesn’t it? The process of getting there was anything but. The past couple months have been a series of on-again, off-again, up and down days and weeks. Especially through the past month as I was deciding between two potential opportunities, Helen and I lived through some moments where we literally had to just close our eyes, trust God and take a figurative and actual leap of faith.
At one point a few weeks ago, I’d received an offer for a really good job. The trouble is, I was in the process of working to get a CEO job offer that I was very excited about. But I’d also committed to responding to the offer on the first job by a certain date. That date came, and I had to either pass on the first job in the hope of getting an offer for the second, or I could accept the first one and wonder what might have been. Of course, there was a chance of coming up with zero jobs … I could pass on the first one and not wind up getting an offer on the CEO job. Helen and I were, I have to admit, both uncertain and a bit stressed.
As we prayed about it, we felt certain that God was asking us to take the bigger step of faith. To essentially pass on the first opportunity and to truly trust Him by pursuing the other. Note that … I was about to walk away from a really good job to pursue a great job that I might not get. So that’s what we did. It felt like an insane thing to do.
What happened? Well fast-forwarding a bit, we essentially declined the first offer to follow the CEO opportunity to closure. But something happened that surprised us. The first company, though very time-sensitive and in a precarious position with other candidates, decided they’d wait for us to follow the CEO opportunity to fruition. It blew our minds.
So we did follow through on the CEO role. And I got an offer … a dream come true in some ways. And … we declined the CEO offer, for various personal and professional reasons, and accepted the first offer. I essentially declined one job to pursue another, only to decline the other and accept the first. More than usual, you may be wondering what in the world the point is. First, let me share a passage from my reading this week from Psalms 88 – 93 and Proverbs 15, specifically in Psalms 91:1-7.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.
Here, at long last, is the point. God gives even when He takes. The thing is, we can’t always see that He’s giving, when He’s giving, what He’s giving. We often can’t or don’t know what He’s up to. We live within the give and take and the give. We see at most only the least. Our limited perspective at times severely clouds our ability to see beyond our present situation. Let’s look at this passage above a little for some context.
For God to be our “refuge” and our “place of safety,” there must be a need for refuge or something circumstantially that risks our safety. For Him to “rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease,” we must be exposed at times to traps and subjected to at least the potential for disease. For “His faithful promises” to be our “armor and protection,” there must be a need at times for armor and protection. For us not to be “afraid of the terrors of the night,” and “the arrow that flies in the day,” there must be terrors and arrows threatening us.
See my point? Our lives and situations are not always (or often, in my opinion) what we think they are. What we see as “take” … risks to our safety, traps, disease, needs for protection, terrors, arrows … may actually be “give” in process … refuge, safety, rescue, protection, etc. We don’t see what God sees. Our limitations in perspective and time aren’t limitations for Him. We can’t know always what He’s doing or where He’s bringing us as we move through life.
In my job situation it was so often like that. Every time we felt as though God was moving us to a corner where we’d essentially paint ourselves, we found that we had to be in that corner in order to find a door through which He prepared us to go as a result. Many times we realized that we couldn’t get through that door without being painted into the corner. When we felt He was essentially taking something, we realized He was actually giving something. When I effectively decided to do what felt like walking away from a perfectly good job to pursue what I thought might be a better one, only by walking away could I realize that I was walking toward.
That’s the thing about God I’ve probably learned most vividly in this season … that even when we think God is taking, He’s really giving. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s not always obvious and not always evident. But give He continues. In our case, it really wasn’t about the job. It was more about the trust, the realization that as we opened our hands to let something go, we were opening them up to receive. As we let Him do what we thought was “take,” it was to allow for Him to “give.”
Let’s pray this week and ask God to allow us the faith to look at the “take” situations and be willing to accept that they’re probably “give” situations in process. It’s not always easy for us to see it, which is why we need His help to realize that it’s not really “give and take,” it’s really all “give” when it comes to God.
Soli Deo gloria!