Picking a Side
Where does one draw the line between practical wisdom and faith-fuelled conviction? Between foolhardy optimism and promise-fuelled faith? Between confidence (in a God who will not let me fall, so long as I seek to follow Him) and pride (not wanting to back down from what I’ve said)?
I’ve always been a rational sort of person, and I’ve always prided myself on my ability to use logic and reasoning in my decision-making. It’s probably one of the biggest reasons I took so long to make my final decision to leave this company.
Yeah, I resigned, I’m serving notice, and my last day of service is just six weekdays from now.
This exit has been pending for a long time. Months. And I’d been vacillating on it and then its date for most of that time. I’d been applying for other positions from time to time, thinking on and off about what I’d do if I decided to be my own boss, and basically just waiting for a sign of some sort from God. Occasionally asking Him to please make the path ahead clear.
Nothing happened. The few callbacks and interviews that I had been getting dwindled to nothing. No new leads showed up. I got more depressed, more irritable, more frustrated. The rubbish coming from the crazy clients got worse. And more (unlooked-for) information on certain persons in management turned up, making me lose whatever hope/trust/respect I had left for this company. And I still couldn’t seem to hear anything from God.
Then I quit. And suddenly ideas I had been toying with gained clarity. And I had offers of projects from a few different sources, such that if everything works out smoothly, I’ll be occupied all the way through July. A friend who’s been in the freelance scene for four years offered to guide me and connect me. An ex boss extended me an open door to part-time employment. And best of all, I felt free. And excited about forging a new path. And eager to finally have the time to do some things that I’ve been wanting to do for a long, long time. And I am finding that old sensitivity to the Spirit’s prompting and prophetic insight that I used to have returning, bit by bit.
Funny how I should already know this, but couldn’t seem to see it. We need to do our part and then trust the outcome and the direction going forward to the Lord. Sitting on the fence isn’t going to cut it. Blaming inertia and procrastinating on an inevitable decision is just asking for trouble. God doesn’t want His people being passive – we are meant to act.
Funny how this is the church’s focus during this period, too:
James 1: 2-18, NKJV
2My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
5If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
9Let the lowly brother rejoice in his exaltation, 10but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
12Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.
16Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
Meanwhile, this old favourite passage has come back to me too:
Isaiah 30: 1-5, 15-26, NKJV
1”Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; 2who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! 3Therefore the strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame, and trust in the shadow of Egypt shall be your humiliation. 4For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes. 5They were all ashamed of a people who could not benefit them, or be help or benefit, but a shame and also a reproach.”
15For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not.
16And you said, “No, for we will flee on horses” — therefore you shall flee! And, “We will ride on swift horses” — therefore those who pursue you shall be swift! 17One thousand shall flee at the threat of one, at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left as a pole on top of a mountain and as a banner on a hill.
18Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.
19For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. 20And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. 21Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left. 22You will also defile the covering of your images of silver, and the ornament of your molded images of gold. You will throw them away as an unclean thing; you will say to them, “Get away!”
23Then He will give the rain for your seed with which you sow the ground, and bread of the increase of the earth; it will be fat and plentiful. In that day your cattle will feed in large pastures. 24Likewise the oxen and the young donkeys that work the ground will eat cured fodder, which has been winnowed with the shovel and fan.
25There will be on every high mountain and on every high hill rivers and streams of waters, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord binds up the bruise of His people and heals the stroke of their wound.
Today I had lunch with a colleague. I know he means well, but he is what he is — a man who stands on his own strength, who does not put his trust in any god, and who is a pragmatist. And the more he spoke the more I felt the same doubt and fear and anxiety and depression of the last many months creeping back in.
So I shut the door. Being surrounded by such is a trial. Being sucked down into the morass of negative emotions and self-reliance is giving in to temptation. But —
I will not be moved
And I’ll say of the Lord
You are my shield, my strength
My portion, deliverer
My shelter, strong tower
My very present help in time of need
Truly, I am convicted that this move is of the Lord. I believe that He has made this clear. It is now up to me to walk in discipline, and not waste the opportunities that my Father has laid in my path. I know that “The Lord will not allow the righteous soul to famish (Proverbs 10:3).”
It is well with my soul!
2 Thessalonians 3:7-13, NKJV
7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 8nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labour and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.
10For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.
13But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.
Colossians 3:23-24, NKJV
23And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Psalm 128:1-4, NKJV
1Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. 2When you eat the labour of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. 3Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. 4Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.
Proverbs 14:23, NKJV
In all labour there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty.
Proverbs 12:11, NKJV
He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.
Proverbs 10:4, NKJV
He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
Proverbs 20:13, NKJV
Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.
Proverbs 28:19-20, NKJV
19He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough! 20A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.
Proverbs 24:30-34, NKJV
30I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; 31and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken down. 32When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: 33A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; 34so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.
Proverbs 22:29, NKJV
Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.
Ecclesiastes 9:4-12, NKJV
4…for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. 5For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. 6Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished, nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun.
7Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works. 8Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil. 9Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labour which you perform under the sun. 10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
11I returned and saw under the sun that — the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favour to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. 12For man also does not know his time: like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them.