Grappling with the Will of God

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My husband and I went for a walk last night, just the two of us. It was already dark out, and we had far-and-between street lights and a bright moon to guide us. We walked to one of our favorite coffee shops and then stopped by a school playground. The autumn air was delicious, and the longer we looked at the sky, the more stars appeared. We sat in the swings and talked, and that feeling I get a lot lately hit me. Home. Belonging. Peace.

When we first got married, we moved to a new state several hours from my hometown (and the same town where we went to college). We were getting married in June, and as we finished our courses in May, we began looking for teaching positions. One principal prayed during my interview, “Lord, close all the doors except the one you want them to walk through.” And though so many doors seemed open, only one offered both of us a teaching position. So we walked through it.

The distance wasn’t terrible, and I’m thankful for the two years we spent teaching at the same school and learning a new city–just the two of us. There are days that I feel a strong sense of longing for the little life we had there–our students, our favorite restaurants, our first apartment. We did hard work there on our marriage and on ourselves. But those two years were full of a lot of stress, confusion, and loneliness. Still, though many days I longed for the familiar, we knew it was where we were supposed to be.

When we found out we were pregnant last fall, another decision was simple: we would move back to our college town. My parents were there, we loved the city,  and it was where we had started and lived out much of our story as a couple. So we began to plan our move.

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God’s will used to seem so hard for me to discern. I put relevant papers in front of me and prayed over them. I would fast. I would cry. I would read every book and Bible verse I could to discover what God’s will was. I would search my heart to make sure I was ready to follow no matter the cost. I knew that God doesn’t usually send an airplane across the sky with a message attached, but at the same time, that’s what I was often looking for. Finding God’s will seemed hard. And what if I ended up living outside of God’s will?

But this decision lined up, just as our decision to move in the first place lined up. We were leaving a job situation that had become increasingly tense for both of us. We were leaving a city that was near neither of our families.  And we were gaining a supportive community–the friends we had made, our family, and a church we loved. It was about more than just feelings; it made logical sense. Our parents thought so. Our friends thought so. Even our principal thought so.

It is one of the biggest decisions we made, but it was also so simple. We knew it was time. So on a day in June, we packed up our apartment. I was thirty-five weeks pregnant, and we had no job that we were moving to. There were doubts as we wondered, “What have we done?” But we were having this baby in faith and moving in faith, trusting that God would provide.

Now several months later, I heard it whispered through those trees sheltering the playground: home. I saw the lights of our college in the distance. I saw the lights of our home with our baby safe inside being held by his grandma.

God provided and guided us through the whole move, just as He always has. Though we moved without a job, he provided my husband with short-term work and now a job he loves. Sometimes God’s will isn’t some mystery. In my experience, it’s been asking simple questions with logical answers and moving forward in faith and trust and dependence. Sometimes it’s easy to move forward; sometimes it is incredibly painful.

I think of the Proverb:

 The heart of man plans his way,

but the Lord establishes his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

We plan; he establishes. We ask for wisdom and use the minds He has given us. Sometimes our plans fall to pieces, but that is just part of the establishing process. And our plans, which may be thin and frail, are always given to Him. And He puts the pieces together and makes them something beautiful. Like a walk in the dark with glowing lights that say home.

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