It's important to document the ways in which God has been faithful, because they are hard to remember when you are in a time of trouble. That is why I am writing this down.
I was encouraged by the way God was faithful to my friend McLean as he was figuring out what he wanted to do after college. He was teaching at a school in Houston, and although he enjoyed teaching the kids, the load of work was crushing him.
He was often tired, and would get up early for school, spend all day at school, and work on lesson plans and grading in the evening. Teaching is one of those jobs where the work is never done, and McLean is a hard worker, and he was straining to stay organized and ahead, but there was always more to do.
The work drained and discouraged him, and he felt he needed to make a change. But he was afraid to change. He was afraid to leave the stability of the job and try something else. He had studied to be a teacher. What else would he do?
He chose to spend part of the summer in Alaska at a summer camp. He went on trips with the kids and taught them, and he loved it. He came back to Texas refreshed and with new clarity about how he needed to make a change. He also came back with more faith that God would take care of him. I remember he shared this verse with me.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I remember he was interviewing at other schools and considering quitting his job. He had to decide whether he would stay at his school another year. He interviewed at some schools in Austin. He was in the throws of faith.
I think he couldn't find anything, so he ended up going back to his same job, but a month in again he was struggling to make a decision. He didn't want to quit his job without another one lined up, but he could not get another one lined up.
Finally he took the step of faith and quit. It was scary for him, I remember, but at the same time invigorating, and also very much an act of trust that God would provide. And it wasn't magically fixed. He didn't get offered a dream job the day he quit. There was another act of faith that I remember.
A few weeks into unemployment (or maybe longer), when he was longing to be employed again, he was offered a position similar to the one he had held previously. It was obvious that to take that position would be to go back to the same kind place he had left. It would jumping back to shore to avoid the discomfort of faith.
He turned it down, and that made my heart really happy because it was a great act of faith. He stayed in the uncomfortable place and patiently waited for the Lord.
And God did provide him a job working working with high schoolers, connecting them to a college. He was able to do meaningful work there that was not burdensome in the same way.
Even more importantly, through all of this he discovered a deeper passion to become a pastor. He realized that he loved teaching, but he really wanted to teach people about the gospel of Jesus Christ. All of this was on the path to seminary. And that is not the end, but rather a new beginning.
I love this story because it shows the faithfulness of God. It encourages me to trust God more. I should also mention another way that God was working through all this.
Around the same time McLean quit his job, he took the art teacher at his school on a date. During the year that began with his unemployment and his new job working for a college, he fell in love with her, and they got married the summer before he started seminary.
I find it incredible to think of McLean at his lowest moment, when he was overwhelmed with grading, frustrated with students, behind in his lesson plans, feeling stressed and weary and discouraged, and wondering what good could come of any if it. And in another classroom at that very school, his future wife was teaching art, perhaps feeling a similar way.
God knew that he would bring them together, and he was waiting for the right time. If we would just be patient with God and trust him, we could be at peace, knowing that he is faithful, that he does love us, and he will provide for us.