GPS: Recalculating Can Be a Good Thing
Here’s the truth …
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).
In my first few years of teaching after graduating from college, I can remember wanting desperately to move out of the small town where I lived to go to the big city of Pittsburgh. The guy with whom I was in love (we’ll call him Danny) was in that big city, and I thought that the reason our relationship had been severed was simply due to location, location, location. Of course, I was young and not wise enough to realize that location had little to do with it. I had been teaching at a high school for five years and was tired. I had been supervising so many extracurricular activities because I was single and had no one else to take care of after school. Hanging out with teenagers all the time, though, was not my idea of getting to “suck the marrow out of life.” I thought living in a bigger city could certainly change that!
I had just completed the application process for teaching positions in the Pittsburgh area for the upcoming fall, having sent resumes and applications to so many school districts, determined to get a job that would take me away from the private high school where I was poorly paid to a public district where I could double my salary. I knew exactly where I wanted to live and how I wanted to begin my life there. The mall where I wanted to shop would be nearby, of course. The apartment where I would live would not be the same complex where Danny lived, but I would certainly live in close proximity to him. Again, location, location, location.
I recall one evening when a friend of mine from Pittsburgh called to apprise me of a job that had opened up in his district smack in the area where Danny lived! Praise God, I thought! He clearly wants us to be together! He’s created this position just for me, right? On the surface, that would seem true. God can do anything, after all. Surely, he could invent a job just for me in the exact area of the big city where I needed to be!
Well … the job was for a long-term substitute position that was available right then—smack in the middle of winter—and would only last until the end of the school year. There was a small possibility that the position would be available again for the following fall, but the person for whom I’d be subbing had the option of coming back in the fall and would likely claim back her position, eliminating my security there entirely. I got that sick feeling in the depths of my stomach when I heard that. This was not news to rejoice about at all. I would have to leave a secure job, move to a more expensive location, and work for what might be only a few months with no real security for my future there! I can’t pick up and move without knowing if that job would be a lasting one, I thought. The idea of getting to see Danny all the time, though, kept clouding my judgment.
Then, a friend of mine tried to help me use God’s Word to see what He would want me to do. We researched what it means to God when you break a contract with your employer. Many verses made it clear that as a representative of the Lord, when you make an oath with someone, you will not represent Him very well if you fail to keep your promise. For example, James tells us, “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation” (James 5:12 ESV). Also, “A man who makes a vow to the Lord or makes a pledge under oath must never break it. He must do exactly what he said he would do” (Numbers 30:2 NLT).
I realized that God would not want me to break my contract with my school, a school that had been like a family to me for five years. I also believed that God would not want to offer me something that was so uncertain. Now, sometimes He does use opportunities to trust Him more—make us rely on Him for our future instead of on our circumstances—but there’s a double-edged sword to that. If my motivations were following what God wanted for me, then, sure, I could trust in Him to provide: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT). But my motivations were to follow a man and to force-fit that man into the one God wanted for me. In the process, I would be force-fitting a job, too. Taking a position that wasn’t God’s best for me might actually prevent me from getting what could be a better job—and a better man—later.
I eventually heeded the sick feeling that I kept getting about stepping out ahead of God. Despite a wonderful interview, I passed on the long-term sub position. Was I disappointed? Sure! Human beings want everything right now without having to wait for it. I knew, though, that if Danny and I were meant to be together, God would see to it without my having to break a contract to make it happen.
Months later, I was hired by a school district in Pittsburgh for a permanent position that would begin that fall. I doubled my meager salary, moved to a new place throughout the summer, and stayed there for three years. Did God use my location to reunite me with Danny during that time? Not at all! In fact, I didn’t manage to get Danny to pay any attention to me even once during my entire time in Pittsburgh. Location, location, location had nothing to do with it after all! Danny’s heart was far from mine. I was devastated, questioning God for dangling Danny in my face yet making him so unattainable! Eventually, God would show me that He gave me my heart’s desire by moving me to Pittsburgh because He knew that I would need a wake-up call that I would never get if I pined for Danny from afar. I would always blame lack of proximity, but I couldn’t do that any longer.
I asked for direction moving forward because I was really lost. I made a list of all that I wanted in a husband and submitted it to the only One who was in better control over my life than I was!
I subsequently left that job and city to marry someone else in another state entirely! Obviously, my location, location, location was not God’s! Thankfully, God is my GPS. He gave me a husband who exceeded my expectations and has in every way fulfilled the desires of my heart, even desires that I didn’t know I wanted. And His roadmap and travel time were perfect. Once I stopped traveling on my own and asked Him for directions, He brought me to my destination.
… and that’s the truth as I know it!