running with the Lord ~ part 3
Hey there 🙂 Y’all ready for this? Today’s post is part 3 or me sharing what Jesus is has been doing in our lives this past year. If you didn’t see part 1 and 2, you can find them here and here. It’s been an awesome and crazy kind of a roller coaster ride! If you at all think that life with Jesus is calm and uneventful, please read on 🙂
It was Thursday, September 12th when Branden got the call. It was a lady named Mary; she was calling in response to a job application Branden had submitted. Branden had been receiving unemployment benefits since May of this year, which is about the same time that the Lord had started to really speak to us about starting a children’s ministry company. Up until then, the company had been a dream, something we had talked about, prayed about, made plans for, but never really thought of as a real possibility.
At the end of May, the Lord began to change that. For two weeks straight, Jesus would speak to me in my sleep (crazy when I think about it too!). He gave me shows to write, characters and skits and sets! And He would tell me what it meant to trust Him, to follow, to take steps forward! The dream seemed a little less impossible every day, but there were so many things that needed to happen, including a change in my husband’s perspective.
You see, Branden is a good man, the best really 🙂 Amongst his remarkable qualities (and there are many) is a desperate need to take care of his family, to provide security. The last ten months of unemployment have been difficult, and trying, and some days very humbling. And we’ve had the privilege of seeing the Shepherd’s faithfulness to care for His own. Branden was unsure though, about really going forward with starting a ministry company. There were so many uncertainties, and though the Lord was clearly speaking, Branden sat on the fence between logical responsibility and completely trusting our needs to the Lord.
Okay, back to the phone call. Mary called in the afternoon. I could hear her voice over the phone as Branden sat down next to me. She was from somewhere southern and friendly. I couldn’t quite make out what she was saying. After a few minutes of exchanging information, Branden thanked her and said goodbye.
“They’re offering me a job,” he said to me. His expression matched my own thoughts. He had been applying week after week for jobs. Jobs that would pay the bills, jobs that he was qualified for, some that were interesting, but none that truly interested him. When you’ve been a professional puppeteer and children’s pastor for fifteen years, job hunting can be a challenge! This would be something different, a position is customer service. He could do this job well; he liked people and people liked him.
But I knew what he was thinking. This job would cover us financially, maybe better than any other job he’s had. From what Mary said, the hours might be difficult at first, but it would be stable and the income would be consistent, something we hadn’t had in quite a while.
Taking this job though, would mean saying “goodbye” to the ministry company, this thing we’d been praying about for years and years. This maybe not so impossible dream that the Lord had clearly been stirring us about, giving us steps to take for, would once again become just an idea, a plan with no intentions.
“They said they wanted to give me the weekend to think about it, then we could talk on Monday.”
“What do you think?” I asked smiling. I wanted to tell him what I thought, that we were at a fork in the road, that I knew which path we should take! Wasn’t it obvious? The Lord had been speaking so clearly about this ministry company! But I’m learning (and have A LOT of room to grow!) that being a good wife means helping your husband, and sometimes quietness is much more helpful than blurting out my opinion.
“I don’t know. We need to pray about it.” he said. And so we did.
The rest of the day was spent packing. The next day Branden was headed out of town to teach at a conference (something the company he used to work for sometimes still hires him to do). I was teaching a photography workshop that weekend and helping with an event for church. The boys would be staying with my parents.
The weekend was a blur or teaching and running around. That Sunday afternoon, Branden returned from his trip and we served together at the church event. In the evening, with the kids still at my parents’ place, Branden and I finally got to bed. We talked for a minute about his trip and my workshop, just catching up.
“So what do you think about the job?” I asked the obvious.
“I’m not sure. I talked to Lenny this weekend,” he said. Lenny was a dear friend and pastor who happened to be at the same conference as Branden was over the weekend. “He said he understood if I felt like I just needed to take the job and provide for my family. But he also said he knew me, how God created me, the things he’s put on my heart about ministry and creativity. He said if he were me, he’d go with the ministry company.”
I don’t remember saying much. Branden said he wanted to talk to a couple more men in the morning, men he’d sought counsel from before, Godly men who had prayed with him about so many things. Then he’d call Mary with the customer service position and give her an answer. We prayed together that night, for clarity and wisdom, for direction.
The next morning, we got going. We needed to pick up the boys and had a couple things planned for the day. We got ready and headed up to my parents’. We were taking the morning easy. It was probably around 10am as we were driving, and Branden’s phone rang. He looked at the screen. “It’s that company with the job,” he said. And before I could say anything, he answered it.
You should know that at this point, that good wife part of me really had to take over and pin my flesh to the ground! Why did he answer that phone call? What was he going to say? He hadn’t talked to anyone yet; we hadn’t prayed about it this morning; seriously, what was happening?!!
I heard Mary’s southern twang on the line, asking if Branden had come to a decision.
“I’ve had a chance to talk with my wife, and I think we’re going to go in a different direction,” he stated. Mary said something friendly and Branden thanked her and hung up the phone. He looked over at me in the passenger seat with a smile on his face. “Is that okay?” he asked.
“WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?!” (clearly not the best response. I think my flesh got up and knocked out that good wife part of me)
Branden was confused to say the least. “I thought that’s what you wanted!”
“Who cares what I wanted! What did Jesus say?! I thought you were going to call people and we were going to pray and figure it out!!”
Okay, so you should know, I’m the kind of girl who likes to make a plan, to follow the plan, and maybe file the plan away just in case we need to reference it later. Does that make me a control freak?
Branden had made the decision I wanted him to, but in that moment, I panicked. The door to that job was now closed, but even more, we had somehow chosen a path. Branden had sprinted off decisively in one direction, and I, suddenly unsure, was scrambling behind him. The rest of the day went not so great. Through difficult conversations and tears, I made my husband feel completely confused and unsupported. Where he thought he was leading, I questioned and caused him to doubt.
That night I went to bed with a headache. Branden said he couldn’t sleep, that he needed to sit with the Lord. The next morning, before starting school with the boys, I woke him. We were both tired and neither of us wanted to fight.
“Where are we at?” I asked. I could see that he was still hurting from the day before.
“I don’t know. We’ve sought the Lord. For the last few years, we’ve been fumbling around, not knowing exactly what the Lord had for us. Now, He’s finally giving us some direction.”
“So, what are you saying?”
“I think we need to go for it. And if we fail, we fail obeying the Lord as best we knew how. We’ve got to commit. I’m ready to do this.”
If you are a man reading this, let me encourage you 🙂 This is what women want, what they need – leadership, and Godly leadership at that. In that moment, in the craziness, all of a sudden I had peace. He was right. Who knew what would come of this, where this path would take us? But we were trusting the Lord, and choosing security in Him instead of security in the world. Even if we “failed” we would do so running with the Lord. What other choice was there to make?
I’ve been reminded lately of Psalm 23. Verse 4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Did you know that Jesus will sometimes lead you, his precious and beloved sheep, for which He gave his own life, through a dark and impossible valley? The place, where in our own thinking and abilities, we slip easily into fear and defeat? Why? we cry out! Is there no other way? Or can we not stay in familiar, secure pastures?
“No,” the Shepherd says gently. “But do not fear, my love. I am with you.” And somehow, even in the valley, even on a path which leads to uncertainty, you can walk with surety. He says, “Take my hand, and run with Me!”
I apologized for the day before, for not supporting Branden in his decision, for making things about me instead of the Lord. He had had it right, and I was truly sorry. That day and the next couple of weeks were very productive. Where Branden at one time had been unsure, uncommitted, he was now motivated and ready to work. I could see this change in him, an excitement I hadn’t seen in a very long time! The situation hadn’t really changed, but his perspective had.
We were sure, secure in our decision. Then, two weeks later, we received a letter in the mail.
Okay, this post is even longer than the last one! There’s more to share, but we’ll have to wait until next time. Please come back; I promise to wrap this story up in the next post (I hope 🙂 Until then, be encouraged! God desires to run with you!