Three months ago I found myself out of a job. On Friday I was working 35 hours a week and bringing home a good paycheck. On Saturday I attended a meeting and realized to continue working in that capacity would mean cutting ethical corners. And on Sunday, after seeking the advice of two trusted friends and my husband, I quit, effective immediately.
Remember the account in the Bible when Peter got out of a boat and started walking across a lake toward Jesus? As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was fine. But as soon as he looked at the waves and felt the wind, he started to sink.
I felt like I had been thrown out of a boat. And I could see the wind stirring up waves:
How will we pay the bills?
What will this mean for our family?
In the days that followed, I made two realizations.
1. We limit God when we think our lives have to look a certain way.
For months I had been praying about my job. It was not physically hard, but emotionally and mentally it took a toll. My four A.M. start time meant I was running on caffeine and prayers almost always. Constant exhaustion meant my parenting was not what I wanted it to be.
I often prayed God would intervene. I just never anticipated God would answer by eliminating the job.
Our comfort zones often become prisons locking us in. Even if the lives we live aren’t what we want; even if they aren’t good for us or our family, it’s hard to walk away.
It was hard for me to imagine God could and would do abundantly more if only I was open to change.
2. We limit God when we think his provision has to come a certain way.
My thoughts in those first days of unemployment were focused on the life I imagined we would have without my income. We would live with far less. We would cut and tighten and sell if need be. And I was okay with that, but I was also limiting God by not realizing he could provide. Then he taught me the lesson of the produce.
I asked my Facebook friends if any had extra tomatoes. A few days later a friend who hadn’t seen my Facebook post emailed to ask if I wanted tomatoes. My enthusiastic YES prompted her to deliver not a few but boxes of tomatoes. A few days later a different friend showed up with two laundry baskets of tomatoes. He hadn’t seen my post either. By the time I was done, I had 40 quarts of canned tomatoes.
And that’s just tomatoes.
Over the next month God provided for us financially in incredible ways, ways I couldn’t have expected. And within six weeks I had a different job with better pay, fewer hours, and a whole lot less stress.
Isaiah 59:1 says, “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.”
God has, through this experience, reminded me how often I limit him. Our problems and earnest prayers reach his ears. And he has the resources to answer in ways we don’t know to hope or imagine.
Amber Albee Swenson has authored four books, writes an occasional devotional blog, and is a regular contributor to several Christian organizations. In 2011 she started speaking to women with the intent of bringing the Bible to life in tangible, applicable ways.
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