I was in the middle of my year of student teaching and volunteering as a taskforce worker. I had been looking for jobs and thought I had found a great first teaching gig in California. I interviewed and was excited about the position. Around this time a friend of mine told me about a need for a teacher in Rwanda. I was not interested, but out of respect I contacted the school. At the end of the first interview, I was offered a job. I did not want it.
I did not want to work so far from loved ones, for so little money, on a continent where I did not know anyone. Some with whom I shared my story were not thrilled about the idea of me moving overseas. However, no amount of prayer could shake the feeling that this was where God wanted me to go. When talking with a close friend, he shared with me that he felt impressed too that God was calling me to this position. So with great fear and trepidation, I said yes to the job.
A short time later, the school in California called me and offered me a position. I turned them down but immediately began to feel intense doubt. I had a little office (It was really a closet with a desk.) under the steps in the administration building. I went in, shut the door, and began to yell at God. I asked Him over and over if I had made a foolish mistake taking on this position and turning down a perfectly good job closer to home.
When I first began looking at the job in Rwanda, a mentor had suggested I read the call of Abraham in Patriarchs and Prophets. I had not taken his advice at the time, but now, feeling incredibly uncertain and discouraged, I decided to look at what he had suggested. I headed to the music department, went upstairs, opened the book, and began to read. As I read through the story, my heart began to melt at beholding Abraham’s faith and obedience. Silent tears began to fall as I read of Abraham’s willingness to go to a land he did not know. Then I read these lines:
“Many are still tested as was Abraham…. They may be required to abandon a career that promises wealth and honor, to leave congenial and profitable associations, and separate from kindred, to enter upon what appears to be only a path of self-denial, hardship, and sacrifice…. Who is ready at the call of Providence to renounce cherished plans and familiar associations? Who will accept new duties and enter untried fields?… He who will do this has the faith of Abraham, and will share with him that ‘far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,’”… (2 Corinthians 4:17).
My gentle tears gave way to uncontrollable sobbing. Another teacher, hearing me through the walls, came over and asked if I was okay. I answered honestly that I was not, but that I would be. God had moved my heart and taken away my fear.
I began preparing for my move to Kigali. With new confidence, I began sharing my story of how God had called me and how I had so vividly felt Him speak to me. I was nervous and excited. Then just a few months later, without warning, I received a message from the teacher I was to replace in Rwanda. The job was gone.
In shock, I immediately called the school in California. They told me when I turned them down that if I changed my mind, I could call them. They informed me I was one day too late to still have the job. They did, however, promise to forward my resume to another school.
The new school I interviewed for was a large, prestigious school. The principal flew up to where I was student teaching to interview me, and things seemed to be going well. My hope began to grow. Then came the rejection but also the promise that my resume would be forwarded to yet another school.
I could not understand what God was doing. I had felt so sure of His calling to pursue the job in Africa, and now, here I was, having gone from two job offers to none.
I renewed the process of looking for work, applying for positions all across the United States. By now we were in the final month of school, and I had no clue where I would be working the following school year. I continued to send out applications but did not receive call-backs. I wondered what in the world God had in mind. Then I got a call from a boarding school in California.
I had student taught at and attended boarding high schools, and this was the very kind of position I was looking for. The school had a strong music program, had housing available, and was in a beautiful location. But would they hire a freshout-of-college teacher like me? I interviewed with the principal and then conference officials. Things seemed to be going well, but I had been this close before.
It was now June, and we were just days from graduation. Summer was rapidly approaching. It was then that I received the call. I was offered the job, a job that would transform my life. Over the next seven years I had the opportunity to travel with students literally across North America. I had the opportunity to work in one of the most beautiful locations in California and work with some of the most incredible students in the world. Most importantly, I was able to clearly recognize how God was working through me, and I was able to share my testimony of how faithfully God had led me. I realized that all this could only have happened because I said yes to God when I desperately wanted to say no.
God’s plans sometimes seem incomprehensible. Sometimes they will require us to wait patiently because His timing is not our timing. Sometimes His plans will require us to follow Him places we do not want to go. I want to challenge you, though, to trust God and allow His desires to supersede yours. Then you will find, as Abraham did, the happiest place on earth is where God would have you to be.
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” – Hebrews 11:8