(inspired by conversations in Sunday School yesterday
I think saying “no” to something that you have said “yes” to for so long is probably one of the hardest things to do. We get attached. We become vested. Oftentimes we are even passionate for our area of service. Yet, sometimes our season is over. Our era of service is discontinued because God has a different plan in store.
It’s like when I resigned from teaching elementary school. I loved my job. Yes, it was stressful and wearisome at times, but it was rewarding. It was fulfilling. I knew that all of those little faces were worth waking up for every morning; they were worth pouring my life into. They were my ministry. In all actuality, though, my job had become my identity.
That last year I taught elementary school, I realized that I didn’t have an identity apart from teaching and working. If I didn’t have a classroom to daily be invested in, then I would have nothing. Christ was not at the center of my life and that reality terrified me. I began seeking God with everything I had. The more I sought Him, the more my heart turned toward Him. I came to realize that until I was personally vested in Christ, that until He was worth waking up for every day, until He was what I was pouring my life into, then I would NEVER be a good teacher. I had to get my priorities in order and devote time to JUST knowing Christ, depending on Him, and trusting in Him. I knew, for me in my case, I had to separate myself from teaching for a period of time in order to give Christ His rightful place in my life.
I remember the day I handed in my resignation. I didn’t have any other job lined up and quite honestly David and I both thought I had lost my mind. I felt like a traitor. I felt foolish for saying “no” to a stable career. I was a good teacher. I was making a difference. I wasn’t angry or mad at the school system like so many others. I just knew God was leading me to say “no”.
That summer, just over four years ago, yielded some of the most edifying times with God I have ever encountered. I spent many hours every morning with Him and learned to trust Him as He showed me His heart through scripture, prayer, praise, and writing. I learned how to turn my attention toward home and become a better wife, sister, daughter, and friend, which would eventually help me to become a better mother. I began asking God to show me the desires of His heart and turn my heart toward those things. I willingly laid the life I had created for myself at His feet and asked Him to recreate it with Him at the center.
What I learned was that God had in fact given me the ability and gift of teaching; I just had to be willing to lay it on the altar in surrender. When I gave up the main identity I had, God did something I never imagined-He gave it back to me. But this time, when I opened the gift, I understood that all of my abilities to teach were from Him. If I was going to be a good teacher, I couldn’t do it for my students, colleagues, superiors, financial provision, or reputation’s sake. If I was going to teach, I had to do it for Jesus, and I had to depend on Him for His strength to achieve it.
A few weeks after this realization, I got a call from the college; they needed an instructor to help with overflow classes in the Developmental Education department. The job was flexible, part time, and God was still allowing me to teach! St. Leo also needed a part time instructor to supervise Elementary Education student interns (how perfect!) and now I have been with NFCC and St. Leo for four years, still teaching-still doing what I am passionate about!
Do I have it all together? Do I have this life all figured out? Of course not! I struggle every day to keep making Christ first in my life. I was just reminded yesterday as we talked in class that God used my “no” in a way that I would have never imagined. Sometimes saying “no” opens the opportunity for some much needed “yeses” in our lives. “No” to my job meant “yes” to Jesus as first place, “yes” to my family, and “yes” to the possibility of my current job. If He is the one leading you to say “no” then TRUST HIM-stop arguing! What blessings I would have missed if I had ignored God’s leading.
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it.” Psalm 37:3-5