We are 7 days away from the release of Tea for Two: A 30 Day Devotional!!!! Pre-order your copy now!
We are 7 days away from the release of Tea for Two: A 30 Day Devotional!!!! Pre-order your copy now!
Have you pre-ordered your copy of Tea for Two? You do not want to miss out on this 30 Day devotional filled with encouraging words and various teas that can be used as natural remedies to everyday health issues.
Pre-order your copy now at Smith Publishing and Amazon!!!
Hebrews 5:8 (NKJV)
“though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”
I don’t know about you, but lately life has been nothing more than a combination of a Debbie Downers and a Negative Nancys. It hasn’t been your typical “life happens” moments, but off the wall, crazy experiences that suck the life and energy out of you. Before you can recover from one hardship, there’s another one waiting for you around the corner. I often find myself wondering, “When does it end, when do I get a break?”
Just like our lives are a challenge, when Jesus walked this earth He suffered greatly and experienced countless hardships. Throughout His ministry He was ridiculed and mocked. The Pharisees made it their sole purpose to find fault with Him and plot ways to kill Him. One of His closest friends betrayed Him for some money. He even suffered a gruesome, painful death even though He was innocent. And we complain about how difficult our lives are!?!? Yet despite all of the suffering, all of the disappointments, all of the hurt and pain, not once did Jesus get caught up in the flesh. Not once did He react to the injustices committed against Him. Not once did He throw a pity party.
How is that so? How was Jesus able to stay true to His nature despite all of the pain He experienced? Hebrews 5:8 tells us that through Jesus’ suffering He learned obedience. It was through the pain, the heartache, the sadness that Jesus learned how to stay committed to God. He did not allow the tough times to cause Him to become bitter and resentful. He did not allow criticisms, mocking, betrayal, and physical pain to cause Him to turn His back on God and step out of God’s will for His life. Instead, He remained faithful to God and walked in obedience even to the point of death. He allowed His suffering to teach Him obedience.
That is what God wants us to develop in our suffering: a willingness to walk in complete obedience to Him. James 1:2 tells us to count it all when we fall into various trials. The reason why we can find joy in our pain and suffering is because our suffering pushes us closer to God and helps us to learn how to follow His will for our lives. So instead of letting challenges and pain cause us to get caught up in the flesh, we need to draw closer to God and allow Him to use our suffering to mold us for His purposes.
Have you ever been to The Cheesecake Factory and faced the tough decision of which cheesecake to select for dessert? I mean there’s about a million selections of cheesecakes from Oreo cheesecake to carrot cake cheesecake so how am I supposed to choose just one cheesecake? Maybe you just go with your favorite like I do or maybe you contemplate trying something new. Deciding on trying a new cheesecake can cause much anxiety. You’re sitting there thinking well if I choose this cheesecake I’ve never had before, I will either love it or absolutely hate it. It sounds good on the menu, but how it sounds on paper and how it actually tastes are two completely different things. So what do you do? Do you just go with old faithful or do you step out on faith and try something new?
Sometimes following God’s will for our lives can be a lot like choosing a slice a cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. We’re often faced with life altering decisions, but how do we know which choice is the best, which choice will keep us in God’s will for our lives?
This is something I’ve been facing lately. In April, I began working as an assistant director at a preschool. In the beginning, I was so excited. Everyday I went to work with joy in my heart and a smile on my face looking forward to the workday. But as time passed and I began to see things I didn’t like, things I didn’t agree with, to hear constant complaining, gossip and negativity, I started to question whether or not I was still in God’s will for my life, whether or not I had made the right decision. There were days when I would go home crying because of the stress of everything. I would cry out to God more and more, but I couldn’t hear His voice. I just didn’t know what to do anymore, but I continued to seek Him. I began to seek Him even more. Talking to Him continuously about everything, seeking Him in His word.
As time went on, I began to pray about relocating to LA because I desired to be closer to my boyfriend and my close friends, plus I was ready for a fresh start. I even started applying for jobs out there. I ended up getting an interview for a position I really wanted. This position would prepare me for the career I was working towards, the pay is much more than what I’m making now, the benefits are great, there are constant opportunities for advancement, and it would allow me to live in LA. I went for the interview early one morning and then went to work after the interview. I promise you, a few hours after interviewing, I got a call from the director who interviewed me offering me the position. To say I was happy would be an understatement. I was like a kid in a candy store. I was thinking, “Yes! I knew God didn’t forget about me.”
The only thing left to do was turn in my letter of resignation on my current job, but I didn’t want to do that until I received my letter of employment from the new job. The director said that they would have the letter of employment for me by the end of the week. So I went ahead and wrote my letter of resignation, and waited to turn it in until I received my letter of employment. Well, the end of the week came and I hadn’t received my letter of employment. I started getting anxious and began to worry. I contacted the director to follow up on the letter of employment, but she never replied. Then, to add to the confusion, my friend contacted me about a part-time teaching position at one of the local community colleges. I had asked her a while ago if there were any openings and she had told me that they had filled all of the positions for the next school year. But then, when I was already confused and it was utter chaos, she texts me to say they have an unexpected opening. I honestly didn’t know what to do, but I went ahead and applied for the teaching position even though it didn’t make sense to me since I was still hoping for things to work out with the position in LA. I started to get so frustrated because I didn’t understand what God was doing, and I had no idea what to do. I didn’t want to make the wrong decision, but at the time I didn’t know what was right. I only knew what I wanted. I told God, “I thought this [the position in LA] was what you had for me! I prayed that you wouldn’t allow me to get it unless it was what you had for me. So why did you allow me to get this position if it wasn’t what you had for me?”. I battled with these thoughts the entire weekend. I had no peace, my joy was pretty much nonexistent. I felt so down and discouraged. I started questioning what I was doing with my life and I honestly felt like a failure. Now that I look back on this, I know I was overreacting, I was letting my emotions rule me, which was not wise.
At the start of the following week, I prayed like I’ve never prayed before. I poured my whole heart out to God and decided to be still. He began to minister to me. He showed me what He wanted me to do. He told me to stay put on my current job because my assignment there was not complete. He began to show me all the changes He wanted me to implement and gave me so many ideas. The next step was to present these ideas to my current director. I honestly didn’t know how she would respond, but I prayed for God to soften her heart and that He would allow her to like my ideas and be willing to implement them.
That week God began to do some amazing things. He allowed me to get an interview for the teaching position, which I was so nervous about because I had to do a brief presentation on my favorite theory of development. Well, I had my interview and let me tell you, the Holy Spirit worked through me and allowed me to do an amazing presentation. I mean the interview panel was even impressed with how I explained certain concepts in a way they had never heard before, but made so much more sense. You know it’s something when you stump someone who has been teaching college courses for years and has their doctorate, but that’s how God works! I left that interview feeling so amazing, but most importantly I had peace. I didn’t feel anxious and I didn’t worry. I rested in God knowing that His will was best and that’s what would be done. When I get to work after my interview that day, I decided to meet with my director. I told her about my ideas as well as the possibility of me teaching at the community college part time. She completely supported me working part-time as an instructor, and she absolutely loved my ideas and decided to start implementing them immediately. One of my suggestions was holding a staff development because there’s so much that needs to be discussed and brought to light in order to improve the school. That same day she created a flyer informing the staff that we would be having a staff development in a couple of weeks. Also, she wanted me to be responsible for some aspects of the meeting. I honestly was not expecting that, but I’m excited because this will allow me to further develop my leadership skills.
So things really began to turn around. I was being presented with some incredible opportunities and I was walking in obedience to God. I was also stepping out on faith and trusting God to work things out according to His perfect will. At that point, I had forgotten all about the job in LA; however, the director at that site hadn’t forgotten about me. She emailed me out the blue asking me if I received my letter of employment. I simply replied that I hadn’t received it. Once again, I didn’t know what to do. All this time I had assumed that she decided to go with someone else so I figured the job wasn’t mine. Part of me wanted to renege on what I told God and my director what I was going to do, and take the job in LA because that’s what I wanted and thought I needed. But the thought of doing that did not bring me peace. Then I started talking to God and told Him, “Lord, if you allow me to get this part-time teaching position, then I will email the director of the job in LA telling her that I will not be accepting the job offer.” Side note: Isn’t it funny how we try to negotiate with God instead of just doing what He told us to do with no questions asked?
I went ahead and decided to go with my plan that I presented to God, but once again I didn’t have peace. I felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart and showing me that I wasn’t walking in complete obedience to God. I tried to ignore it, but I couldn’t. Finally, I sent an email to the director over the job in LA informing her that I will not be able to accept the position. The day after I sent that email, I received an email about the teaching position at the local community college offering me the job! I mean all I had to do was walk in obedience and trust God, and He worked everything out. In addition to that, my current director is all on board for me teaching at the community college. Everyday leading up to this offer, she would tell me that she knew I was going to get the teaching position. She is so supportive and encourages me constantly and knows that I’m destined for greater things. She’s truly a blessing. And did I mention that she is also a Christian?
It’s so amazing how when we surrender to God, walk in obedience, and trust Him, He literally allows all things to fall in place. I am so amazed by what God has done in the span of two weeks. I mean He has moved so greatly in my life, but He has also helped me to see things in a whole new light. I no longer dread going to work. Now I’m excited and I look for ways that I can help this school grow. I’m so excited for this new journey in my life and I can’t wait to see how God is going to turn this school around as well as use me as an instructor at the community college.
With that said, when God is showing you to do something, just do it. No questions asked. No trying to think of a better way that will work for you or will be more comfortable to you. Simply trust God, and do what He is showing you to do even when it’s difficult or uncomfortable. Remember “Obedience is better than sacrifice…” (1 Samuel 15:22).