Oftentimes it is when you feel like you are settled and have life mapped out in front of you, that you can fail to live by faith everyday…it can feel like you don’t really need to pray because you know the answers and life is just quite happily ticking along day by day…and THEN…!
This was my life in 2008. I had completed a graduate degree in teaching, survived through my probationary teaching year and landed the dream job. God provided way beyond my expectations. To secure a permanent teaching post in Scotland after your probationary year was not a common occurrence. Most teachers are left to the mercy of the “Supply Teacher Register” (substitute teaching), or at best, a temporary position for a year. Through a contact I had, I walked into a full-time permanent position teaching a small class of amazing, well-mannered children in a private Christian school within a church in Dundee, Scotland! Thank you, Lord!
I then did what anyone else in my position would do, leapt onto the property ladder…I purchased my own little apartment and set up home. I had made it! I was involved in my church in Dundee, I had the dream job, and I was a home-owner. I had all intentions of spending the foreseeable future like this. One thing i’ve learned though is that we don’t have a ‘foreseeable’ future! We can’t see into the future, our every breath is given by the Lord and He will determine our last breath and where it will be taken. What may seem like a long-term plan in our minds, can be the complete opposite in the eyes of the all-knowing Lord of our lives.
Fast-forward 8 months to April 2009, and my life turned upside down…that life-long job I so treasure disappeared. Due to the financial environment, many parents could no longer afford the fees for private school and were forced to move their children to public school. With declining student numbers, the decision was made to close the school at the end of the term…my permanent job had lasted a year. The small payment I received was enough to cover my mortgage for a short time but the job hunting began immediately.
Nothing! I applied for EVERY teaching job advertised and NOTHING! Not even an interview! I was a failure. I let myself believe I was a failure for losing a job, even though the school closing was completely out with my control. I was failing at finding work and losing hope. I was tiring myself with the “What am I going to do?” thoughts, I was considering other careers, moving back home and renting my apartment, staying where I was…I was a lost in my thoughts and lack of answers.
Of course, everyone has an opinion, and well-meaning friends wanted to help by sharing their advice. As if I didn’t have enough thoughts of my own spinning around in my mind…I now had ideas and opinions adding to the mix every time I spoke to anyone! I knew I needed to get away…I needed to be silent and listen to the ONE voice…the Voice of Truth.
At the end of May 2009, I packed up my tent and camping equipment and, together with my dog, I headed north-west. I knew of a remote place in Scotland called Applecross. It is on the coast-line accessible by a narrow winding road and without cellphone signal, it was perfect. For 3 days and nights it was just me, my bible, a notebook…and my dog! I read, prayed, and journaled. I felt closer to the Lord than I had in months…years. On the 2nd day I drove along a mountain road and felt the push to get out and walk to the top of a ridge. I was tired and really didn’t want to climb it but found myself pushing through the pain as the Lord told me I needed to get to the top.
When I stood on that mountain top the Lord showed me one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. I stood looking at mountains all around me, and across water toward the islands. I was in awe. God told me that He had created all of this, that He had planned it out. He assured me that if He was the author of all this beautiful creation I saw before me; that I could trust in Him to write the story of my life. I didn’t get any answers to the What?, but I didn’t receive the peace to completely surrender.
I remember the moment I fell to my knees and shouted out at the top of my voice, “I SURRENDER TO YOUR WILL”. It was my Bruce Almighty moment! I knelt there crying, with arms raised still in awe of all I saw before me and knew I could trust in His plan for my life.
That summer I went to South Africa on a missions trip and received more and more confirmation of His plan. Still jobless in October 2009, my family got together and paid for me to visit friends in Knoxville, TN. In short, summer 2010 was spent as an intern at a church in Knoxville; December 2010 to September 2011 was spent ministering to the Boys and Girls clubs in Knoxville, and working with a cowboy ministry working with underprivileged youth.
In August 2010 I had another surrender moment as I struggled with being unmarried, failing in love. I took a weekend away from my normal life and spoke to no-one who knew me. I visited a different church. I spent time talking with the Lord and receiving His peace to be single until His appointed time for me…3 days later I met my husband! If I hadn’t “failed” in that teaching job in Dundee, my life would have been very different! #IAMNOT a failure!
We are now living in Knoxville, and together seeking the Lord’s will for our future, trusting in His unseen plans. We are taking a time of sabbatical, which will involve some time in Scotland, and yes, we will together climb that mountain and gaze in wonder and awe at the beauty of creation and all that the Lord has planned for us.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)