God’s Kindness through Disappointment Leads to Repentance

kindness-of-god

by Heather Bock

I was absent-mindedly skimming through my Twitter feed when I came across a tweet about an event called Lit by Living Proof Ministries for women with a passion for writing, speaking, and/or teaching in their 20s and 30s. I clicked on the link and disbelief took over as I saw that Continue reading

Texas Timing

Texas_Regions_Map

My family and I are moving to a small town in Texas in about two weeks. We found out one week ago.

Around one year ago, I read and wrote a post about Anything by Jennie Allen. I told God that He could do anything with me, that He could take me anywhere, and it would be ok with me. I told Him He could even take us to the places I didn’t want to live. After all, He is a loving, trustworthy God, and He knows better what I need and how He can use me than I do.

Since then, God took me up on my declaration, asking me if I’d even be willing to go to China with only a month or so to prepare. I was willing, and He dropped that challenge. Later, He asked if I’d be willing to give up the comforts of a safe neighborhood and spacious house and yard in order to move to California–a place where I’d be close to my mom, which would be amazing–but a place we’d have trouble affording. I was definitely willing, but He said, No, you won’t go there at this time. He waited a while and then, knowing my heart, tested me again about Morristown, the small town where Greg was working. That was harder for me as it wasn’t close to family, and it wasn’t as exciting as China, but eventually I held it up to Him in surrender again. Soon after I did, He dropped the test and started in on the small town in Texas. This one wasn’t as hard for me because I knew if we moved there, Greg’s family would live nearby, a fact I loved. I didn’t like the idea of moving away from the city where we’re living and away from my church and friends who have become more like family to me, but it wasn’t as hard as other places God asked me to be willing to go.

The timing of this job offer looks to us like it has the finger of God all over it. First of all, Greg was actually the final candidate for this job last summer, but he turned down the on-campus interview because of some unresolved questions and because of his loyalty to the college he was working for–he didn’t want to leave them in a bad spot. He had been praying for a while whether he should try for a higher level job, and this would give him that opportunity, but he especially didn’t want to put his family at risk. His most trusted advisers all told him they didn’t think it looked like a wise decision to take the job. He felt a certain peace about it at the time, but for the rest of the year, he questioned whether he had made the right decision.

Fast forward to this past June. I thought we were done with job applications for the year, that I had at least one more year here. Then this same job he had turned down last year came open again, and Greg decided to apply. The man they had hired had moved to be near family. While he was there, the man proved that the program at this university could be revitalized.

Therefore, the people at the university really wanted to hire Greg. They knew he had taken a small program and built it up to the point of them needing to hire a second full-time philosophy professor. They wanted him to do the same for their program, and they thought he couldn’t be a better fit for the job. He had the proven ability to build the program, he had experience in both philosophy and religion (their two needs), he would likely stay at the job for a long while since he had family nearby, he had lived in the area before and thought of it as a good place to raise a family, and his brother had even graduated from the same university.

The timing wasn’t just better for the university to want to hire Greg, but also for the college for which he was working. Since they now needed two professors, they were in the hunt for the second one. They already had applicants; all they needed to do was hire two instead of one. Because Greg knew he had had a good first interview with the new place a week or so before his old college was going to interview people, he was able to tell them in advance that he might be leaving, in time to interview for more than one position. In fact, he got the job offer within a hour after finishing interviews at his old college, so he could give his official notice and allow them to hire a second professor right then. He could feel good that he wasn’t leaving them in a bad position.

Even the timing of the phone calls from the new university worked out smoothly for us. Greg was home one day for fifteen minutes–he had just stopped by before going out somewhere else–which is when he got the phone call that he would have a first interview. The phone call announcing he would have a second interview came immediately as I was walking in the door from being out somewhere.

When Greg asked his same advisers this year about this job, they all said they thought it was a good idea to take it–a complete flip from last year. When the university said they wanted to hire Greg, they were able to give him exactly what he needed to provide for our family completely so I can still homeschool our kids.

On top of all this, Greg and I both feel strongly that this past year was an important time of spiritual growth for us here. I was even able to lead my own Bible study with a group of friends, which gave me an incredible amount of help in improving it for possible future publication. It was my last opportunity to do so in this town. We found out Greg was hired for the job with one week left to go in the study.

Maybe God doesn’t always lead us in one direction or another when we have big decisions. Maybe He sometimes lets us decide and goes with us either way. However, I don’t feel that way about this decision. I feel He led us step by step all the way, which encourages me that He will be with us while we’re there, even as I mourn the loss of so many I love. He will guide us and provide for us as He did for the move itself.

Story of a Dream Torn Away

BowedHave you ever had to give up a dream?

If you read my blog regularly, you may already be tired of hearing the word surrender. It seems to be a theme running through my life, but maybe it goes through every Christian’s life. After all, Jesus told us to deny ourselves, to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23). The problem is that more often I slip into the world’s culture of making everything all about me. Maybe I shouldn’t say “world’s culture,” though. I don’t need the world’s help for that–it’s been inside me from birth.

When I have something, whether it’s a new shirt, an ability to run, a relationship with a friend, or a dream, most of the time I fall into the trap of thinking it ultimately belongs to me. After all, I’m the one who wears the shirt. I’m the one running. I’m the one who spends time with the friend. This thought process is stronger with dreams. Dreams feel very personal, very intimate, almost an inextricable part of who I am.

Heather Running

Running is something I had to surrender. I can still run, but I have trouble racing anymore–I always injure something! By the way, I don’t usually run with my eyes closed.

However, none of these really completely belong to me, even when I think they do, not even my dreams. God has given me everything I have, and He has every right, as my King, Father, and Friend, to take whatever He deems necessary to take. Not only does He have the right, but if He deems it right, He IS right. He knows better than I ever will what I need. Not that He’s stingy, only giving me what I need. No, my Father, even on this earth, has given me far, far more than I could ever need physically, not to mention spiritually. In fact, in the past He has given me gifts I didn’t need in any way, just to make me feel loved. He has always been sweet to me.

In knowledge of this, I can give the shirt off my back to someone who needs it. It may be harder to give a new, fun one, but God tested me on that one a few years ago, and with His help, I can do that fairly easily. I can also surrender a beloved friend if I need to, knowing God has other good plans for that friend, even though I might grieve the parting. However, giving up a dream is still hard for me.

This past week, a dream I held close to my heart was wrenched out of my hands, quickly, the way a loving parent might tear a Band-Aid off a child’s arm. I do believe it was my loving Parent who did this, just at the time He knew I needed it to be done. He knew I was cherishing this dream a little too strongly, clutching it a bit too tightly. I needed a reminder that this was not my dream in the first place, but placed in my heart by God Himself. It’s His, to do with whatever He wishes.

I’d like to say my first response was humility before God, an attitude that said, “Do what You want with this dream, God.” My first response was closer to misery. It was definitely hard to keep the tears back, even though I was going somewhere and needed to get through it without telltale red-rimmed eyes. My second response was to ask God why He had done it. You’d think this doubt of God’s goodness would turn Him away from me. But you see, God isn’t like that.

God didn’t punish me. He comforted me. The next morning, when I was again heading somewhere I needed to be dry-eyed, words to a song by Kendall Payne, called “Aslan,” were persistently running through my head. First of all, if you read my last post, you might remember I’ve been reading the Narnia Chronicles with my kids–my last post was about Aslan. Second, I heard this song a few days before this, but before that, I hadn’t heard the song for a very long time. I had just rediscovered it after writing about Aslan and Eustace and was surprised by the reference to the same topic about which I had been writing.

After the words ran over and over in my head that morning, I realized I really needed to listen to the words more carefully. I turned the song on to hear words about how God is not safe and how I might be tempted to run away. Kendall Payne sings that God won’t do the things I know He could, He won’t think the way I want Him to, but He is good. The words go on to say that God’s water of life is free, but it costs everything. He’s not necessarily fair in our minds, but He fixes what can’t be fixed and gives grace. He cuts deep, but He never leaves a wounded person behind. Most of all, the song repeats several times how God is good.

God reminded me kindly and gently through this song that I might not understand Him, but He is good, and I can trust that. Then He gave me the grace to trust it. I might or might not get my dream back. No matter what, if I do get it back, I will hold it with a whole lot more humility. If God chooses to use it after all, I’ll know it is He who used it, not me. And when I’m in my right mind, that’s what I want, anyway–that He may be glorified with all He’s given me.