Sometimes the Step Is ‘Stay’

Christian Life & Theology

Let me start this by saying my blog posts are designed to be transparent. But today I want to tell a story that fills in the details left out of many blog posts from the last nine months.

Josh started job searching last December as he was approaching the last semester of his studies in computer engineering. As we moved into the final semester, I began assisting with the search, looking up jobs, filling out applications, and editing resumes and cover letters. Josh put much effort into the search while also balancing senior projects in one of the hardest programs Liberty University offers (fun fact: the program requires the highest level of ability in math above all other programs. I can barely add 6 and 7. We’re a good match).

Together – but mostly him – we filled out upward of 30 applications in the Lynchburg area. We expanded the search to surrounding areas. No response was received. The fallback option was for Josh to work at a small engineering firm for which he had interned the year before, but this was not his ideal location. He knew the pay would be less than the mock budget we had put together, so we would have to rework our financial plans to pay down student loans and meet bills. Additionally, the job was an hour away from Lynchburg, where I live and work, so if we were to be married, our halfway point would be in very poor, rundown towns in between our work locations.

I struggled during this time. Why were no jobs opening up? Josh was almost done with a degree in a great field, and he was getting good grades in his final classes. It was almost uncanny that he was receiving no response on the jobs. His resume had been reviewed by the Career Center and tweaked for career fairs. There was no doubt he had made the effort and no doubt we had covered the topic in prayer.

Around this time I heard of a new position within the university and jumped to apply for it. I prayed over it for four to five weeks as the paperwork was processed and I also heard little to nothing. But suddenly, one day, I received an interview invitation. That same day I was offered the job! I was delighted… but still in a quandary. If God has directed me to a job in Lynchburg, which I have committed to for several years, why would He not provide a job for Josh as well?

I talked to a good friend of mine, who encouraged me greatly. “Phylicia,” she said, “Don’t view your new job and Josh’s job search as mutually exclusive. View your job as confirmation that God is working and answering your prayers. Just wait… it will come.” I clung to those words for the months to come.

Josh graduated in early May, still with no response on the jobs he had applied for.  We assumed he would start work with the smaller engineering firm, per their word that they wanted him back upon graduation. But the position fell through. Josh’s calls were not returned, and he was left without a back up plan.

We began our somewhat long distance relationship, seeing each other on weekends taking turns in Afton or Lynchburg. A few weeks after he went home, we were talking on the phone one night when he said, “You know, I was not sure you knew this… but I haven’t been applying for jobs since I came home.” My heart sunk a little. I trust him implicitly to work hard, and I knew he wanted a job. Why would he not continue the search?

“I have felt impressed by God not to focus on that right now,” he told me. “I feel He is leading me to focus on my relationships within my family and on my time with Him.”

I am a fortunate woman in the sense that I have a man whose every decision is weighed carefully before it is made. As patient and precise as he is, when Josh makes a decision I can rest assured it was prayed over and analyzed before it ever reached me. Knowing this, I accepted his decision – as irrational as it seemed to me at the time – and waited.

May ended and blended into June. We were invited to volunteer with  the Vacation Bible School program at our church in Lynchburg, and Josh decided to come down and stay with friends for the week so we both could lead groups in the kindergarten program. It was an exhausting week! While I worked in the day, he assisted our friend Steve with tasks at Steve’s job. It was during this time that Steve mentioned he was actually leaving his position as a service technician at a large air compressor company to take a teaching job at Liberty. Since Josh was in the area, he met the regional manager, who encouraged him to apply for the job.

Josh went home after our hectic, exhausting VBS week herding kindergarteners through the halls of our church. He began working on the application. Meanwhile, a good friend of mine emailed me about a small house in a nearby town. “My sister is renting it,” she said. “In case you and Josh are looking.” My own lease would not be up for a while, but I sent the email on to Josh, telling him a little bit of what I knew about the location.  The price was unbelievably low for a little cottage, which would help our budget, but we decided to set it aside until we knew more about the job.

At the beginning of the application process, it all started quickly. Josh progressed through the first stages in less than two weeks! That was followed by a lull for another two weeks during which we heard nothing, just waited and prayed. “If this is God’s will, He will open the door.” Josh told me. So we kept praying that His will would be done, and if this wasn’t it, that He would open a different door for Josh. We were fortunate to have the prayers and support of Steve and his family, as well as our own families and friends. Their love and presence was so comforting and encouraging at least to me during this time of waiting!

Then one day, Josh got a call. He was asked more questions about himself and his goals with the company, before moving forward with the process to the next step. Around this time he asked me if I had ever gotten back to my friend Debbie about the house in the nearby town. “No,” I answered. “I thought you weren’t interested, so I never contacted her.” A few days later he surprised me at work after looking at the little house. We are still looking at options, but each option presented so far fits right in the bracket needed for the budget we would have.

As I write now, Josh is starting his new job on August 12th. He decides which house he will be renting this week, and we sorted his things yesterday for the move to Lynchburg. We keep saying it’s hard to believe it is real. The wait has been long and sometimes hard, wondering where God is leading, feeling in the dark, trusting His hand when we can’t see what’s in front of our feet.

If there is one thing I have realized, it is that there are times when God does not have a step for us to take; sometimes God has a place for us to stay.

For Josh and myself, much of what has happened on our behalf in the last year required no action on our part but prayer. Certainly, he made the effort of job hunting until the Lord impressed him to stop. And certainly he did not sit still and assume a job would drop out of the sky! We had to trust each other and the Lord. Josh repeatedly encouraged me to trust that God had a plan, and his faith encouraged my own. In my post When Waiting Pays Off, I mentioned that Josh was quoted a salary higher than the one we had been praying for, potentially enabling us to diminish student loans and be debt free, which we believe is God’s will for His people. God went above and beyond for us – like we see Him do repeatedly in Scripture.

Waiting may seem irrational at times, but God Himself is a ‘waiter’. He waits for us to come to Him, He waits for us to change, He waits for the day He will return to earth at just the right time. He is patient with us when we don’t deserve it and gives us good gifts of grace in our moments of most undeserving need. But when we speed to the next big thing, we miss the gifts. Waiting on Josh’s job and future gave us a chance to learn about each other, grow together, and wait together in the crucible of patience. It has drawn us closer, grown our confidence in both God’s ability and His grace, and given us a great anticipation for all that is to come. And even in this exciting time, we remember: this is where we are, this is where we stay. God will tell us what the next step is.

And in case you are wondering what your next step is, I hope our story is an encouragement to you. Waiting is the step. Be all there!

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