If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable. Proverbs 28:9
A lot of changes this past year. My husband and I celebrated 40 years of marriage with a wonderful trip to Hawaii in January which has been the highlight of my year so far. Then in July, we reached a very difficult decision and resigned as pastors at the church we have been with for over five years. I won’t go into the details, there were just a lot of reasons this needed to happen and we wanted to be obedient to God. Yet it hasn’t been easy since. When Cliff resigned, for the first time in our lives, we did not have another assignment to go to. We have been struggling financially and even more emotionally, trying to understand all of this and trying not to second guess our decision.
Cliff felt led to look “outside the box” for employment and applied as a Chaplain for the State of Oregon’s Addictions and Mental Health Unit. It was a position that seemed tailor made for him, drawing on his experience as a pastor and his long term work with people who suffer from addiction. We were unsurprised when he was called for an interview and really began to believe this was what God had in mind for us. We are toward the end of our active ministry years and felt this would be a way to not only earn a living, but to really be able to help people in a way that utilized our history. Kind of like God was taking all the years of heartache we had gone through when I was active in the disease of alcoholism and redeeming it in a way only He could engineer.
We both prayed a great deal and though we tried not to assume anything, I know we both felt the answer was going to be positive. Yet less than a week after his final interview, he got word they had chosen someone else for that position. I was a little bit stunned and of course, being me, began to ask God why? Why did You lead us down this path only to shut the door so firmly? Why did You allow us to get our hopes up? Why did You put this job in front of us for no apparent reason? Why did Cliff have to suffer another blow to his self worth and self esteem? Why, God? Why? Why?!
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. I John 5:14
God is so faithful. Before I had hardly formed the words, He quietly chastised me. Gently, but definitely. He reminded me He always answers my prayer. Always. He reminded me that an answer of “No” is still an answer. (Notice that the verse above says “He hears us.” It doesn’t say “He’ll give in to our every desire.”) I responded by saying, “Yeah, but…” ~ as in yeah, I know that, but I don’t really like no answers. Then I heaved a big sigh and said “Ok, I’ll accept Your no answer. I don’t like it, but I’ll accept it.” (A mental picture of me with my arms folded and my lower lip sticking out would be appropriate here ~ a sulking child who did not get her way.)
Here is what came next and this is the point of this post: I heard His gentle voice asking me why I wouldn’t thank Him for His answer. After all, I had begged Him to lead us, to direct us, and had repeatedly told Him I only wanted His will. Then when He answered, showing me His will, I pouted. I had felt very put upon and a little self righteous ~ like I was doing God a favor by accepting His will. I was overwhelmed with conviction over my sinful reaction. I’m happy to say I immediately asked for His forgiveness and was suddenly filled with a true joy that He had so clearly answered us.
From now on, I am going to do my best to thank Him for all of His answers ~ no, yes, maybe, or wait awhile because God is good and He only makes good choices for me. I really can trust Him to lead me, but I have to be willing to not just accept His will, but to embrace it with an uncanny joy. Either that, or I need to stop praying and asking Him to direct me.
So, how is your response to God’s will? Are you willing to trust Him, even in the “no”?
God bless you all.
About the author
I am a recovering alcoholic and a pastor’s wife; I have been sober almost 3 years now. I started my blog here at CWO when I was less than 3 months sober and it has been an amazing journey. Thank you again to all who have been so supportive and have prayed for me.
Editor’s Note: if you would like to follow Caro’s inspiring journey, here is her first step ~ http://christianwomenonline.net/community/blogs/caro-s-corner-2783/my-first-time-593/