It has been a funny ol’ week. Nothing has gone to plan… ahem, my plan.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I began my new job this week. Well, at least I expected to.
What appeared to be an incredibly promising job opportunity teaching English to children was not quite all it was cracked up to be and I ended the first of a five-day training course by quitting. The growing unease in my spirit plus wise insight from others helped me make a quick, sure decision on Thursday evening and I chose not to return to training the next day.
Having, then, unexpectedly regained my long weekend, I was excited to fill my days with activity, including attending church on Sunday morning. Well, at least I expected to.
A series of unfortunate events caused a somewhat dramatic waste of time on Sunday. I began the day by praying and asking God to do as He willed. I was very specific in my prayer that morning as I had been reminded in the previous week’s sermon that, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) So I asked Him to be Lord over every detail of that day and to direct my steps; that I may live that day within His will and purpose for my life. Ah, if I only knew what was to come…
You see, I was ready to leave the house on time that morning, however, just as I was about to leave, I suffered terrible indigestion – the worst I’ve ever experienced – and I thought I was going to throw up. As I paced back and forth it soon subsided, but I was now running a few minutes late.
I walked quickly to make up for lost time but, on arriving at the bus stop, I found the first ticket machine was out of order. The second rejected my cash and a further three payment cards (It was around an attempt with card #2 that the bus arrived). The third machine gratefully received my money and offered a ticket in return, but it was too late. The bus had already left.
After stalling for a few minutes, hoping (praying!) another bus would arrive shortly, I admitted defeat and realised that if I still wanted to catch my train, I would have to run – yes, run – the mile to the station. So off I went. A skirt and boots were not optimal running gear for this quick dash, but ‘desperate times’ and all that…
Regularly checking my watch and praying for the train to be late (I knew this was a long-shot, it is Germany after all) I arrived just in time. Just in time to watch the train pull away from the platform, that is.
Most normal people would have admitted defeat at this point. But not me, oh, no! I was determined to make it to church that morning. I calculated that if I got the next train in an hour, I would arrive for the service only 30 minutes late. I conceded that that was acceptable. (Keeping in mind I had already purchased a day-ticket for 18€ and had not yet received any benefit from it whatsoever.)
So as I waited for the next train (and caught my breath), I asked God, “Why?” Why had nothing gone to plan? Why had seemingly insignificant details turned into such a (de)feat? Did He not want me to go to church that morning?
I caught the next train an hour later. But, needless to say, it arrived late, causing me to miss the bus connection and successfully sealing my fate on this failed venture. I was then promptly attacked by a pigeon, lost my favourite earring in the station, and nearly missed the return train because, for some unknown reason, it just happened to leave from a different platform that afternoon.
Four hours of adventure and nothing to show for it. Why? Why? I couldn’t make sense of it. I still don’t quite know what to make of it.
But as I’ve prayed and reflected on the last seven days, God has taught me this:
- It’s OK to ask for help. Whether that be insight into the local ‘way of things’, a request for information, or assistance in making an informed decision, perhaps some of these challenges could have been avoided if I hadn’t been so determined to do them alone. I’ve been challenging myself on why I don’t ask for help; what are my motives? I know a big reason for refraining from requesting the help of others is because I don’t want to be an inconvenience. I genuinely don’t want to be considered a pest or drain their energy and resources. I’m also fiercely independent – always have been – and that’s a hard habit to break, though necessary in a new country, a new culture and a new language. But I also asked myself, is it pride? Is pride stopping me from asking for help? Yes, perhaps there is an element of that too.
- God establishes the content of each day. I think, in many ways, this series of unfortunate events was a humorous illustration of God’s sovereignty in all things. And what makes it even funnier is that I asked for it! He coordinates the small things just as much as the big things and all are important in His plan. This can be both an encouragement and a stark reminder that He is Lord over all, and our plans must work within His will, not the other way around.
- God lives on the wild side. After my job opportunity fell through, I was confused. I wasn’t disappointed, because I felt peace and relief having made the decision to opt out, but I did feel confused and, to be honest, my pride was dented a little. I had excitedly told everyone about this job – the seemingly perfect fit for me, the provision of income, the future prospects it had promised – but it was not to be. Why did God allow me to get as far as the training if He knew it wouldn’t work out? I had hardly pursued the job; if anything, it had pursued me! This is the second ‘close shave’ I’ve experienced during my transition to Germany – the first being an apartment scam which I narrowly avoided. And I think what remains true throughout is that God cares for us more than we know. He knows every detail and has the ability to steer us in a new direction at any given moment. But He occasionally allows us to wander just a little bit farther down the unsafe path in order to demonstrate His love, to test our faith, and to reveal to us what we are really made of.
- I don’t need to have all the answers. Man, right now, I have none of the answers! I don’t understand why the job didn’t work out. I don’t know where I might now look for another work opportunity. The much-anticipated promise of income has been snatched back. And I have no idea why God could possibly have wanted me to miss church on Sunday..! But, once again, it all comes down to trust. Trust in God, and not my circumstances around me. Trust in His goodness, His love, His faithfulness, and His provision.
This I know: I can be certain in the uncertainty. I am certain of who God is. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He who has been so faithful in my past, is faithful today and He will continue to be faithful through my uncertain perspective of the days and weeks to come. My job is to simply surrender every single (in)significant detail to Him.