A Time of Sacred Waiting
- Thursday, November 21, 2013
I wouldn’t wish a job search on my worst enemy (Okay, maybe I would.) I’d rank this brutal, dehumanizing, exhausting, and frustrating process as somewhere between getting a tooth filled and experiencing a death in the family. The tooth filling perhaps offers more acute pain, but it’s over with faster, and you can get on with your life. The job search, however, sticks around like gum on your shoe.
When you are looking for a job, you want it “over with” as soon as possible. You want to get back into a routine. You want to be able to say something other than “I’m between jobs” when someone asks what you do. You want to pay the bills without angst. You want to keep your home. You want health insurance.
But as someone who has struggled with an involuntary job search more than once, let me suggest that you not rush through the process too quickly. Or at least while you are striding purposefully toward that next position, keep your eyes and ears open. God may be speaking to you.
You see, the time between jobs is just as legitimately a part of your life as is the time you are, as they say, “working.” It is not to be rushed through. It is just as much a part of God’s calling as that position enabling you to use your gifts and put food on the table.
In the old days, many men and women waited to hear God’s voice by withdrawing into the desert, free from the world’s distractions. In our time, the distractions are ever more numerous, but few of us can purchase a ticket to the Sahara. As we seek our next job, however, the in-between time affords us with space for sacred waiting. And as we wait in that sacred space, the job search enables us to see God, others, and ourselves with new eyes.
When my wife, Christine, lost her job this fall through no fault of her own, we both decided to look for work (I’m a full-time freelancer). We decided to read God’s word together at the start of most workdays, a discipline we had never even attempted when both of us had jobs. I’ve felt the Lord speaking specifically and powerfully to me through the words of Scripture during these devotional times, which have served to strengthen our love for God, and for one another.
This time of sacred waiting has also enabled me to seek counsel and encouragement from friends. Before all this happened, Christine and I had discussed how we can renew ties with Christian friends, lamenting the atomizing tendencies of modern American life. We have gone whole years without exchanging a meaningful word with people we really care about.
Now, however, I have sat down with friends over coffee or a meal to pray and to discuss the job hunt, to encourage and to be encouraged. My ties with these friends—new and old—have been greatly strengthened. We are talking about stuff that matters, and I know who I can count on. We are not just sharing meals; we are sharing life.
And I have realized that any job of significance I have gotten since college has been not through searching the “want ads,” updating my LinkedIn profile, or sending a cover letter and resume to prospective employers through CareerBuilder.com or Indeed.com (as necessary as those tasks may be). It has come through relationships.
My time of sacred waiting has helped me to see this basic truth. It has also encouraged me to look back on my career with thankfulness, and on the future with hope. I have gained a new level of confidence as I have reviewed my accomplishments with a view toward marketing myself for possible employers. The deliberate time of assessing my skills and naming my accomplishments has opened my eyes to the many significant ways that God has used me at work.
One of my friends, who recently lost his job, thought he was “damaged goods” when it came to the work world. That view changed when he sat down with an employment counselor, who pointed out the skills and experience he had long displayed but forgotten about or taken for granted. Such self-assessment reinforces the biblical conviction that just as God sovereignly led us in the past to use us for his glory, so he will continue to do so in the future.
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