We have all heard the phrase "Bloom where you are planted", but it is often hard to blossom when we are not certain God has potted us in the right location. Couldn't He have made a mistake, after all, putting us in a limited job situation or even keeping us at home?
I recently spoke with an individual that had just gotten a new job. It was in the field that they intended to pursue but it was not quite what they had been hoping for in terms of employment. In addition, the position was temporary with no guarantees for a long term future. As I considered their circumstance, I thought back on my own work history.
While my husband was a student in the college of Optometry, it was imperative that I find a job to help support us. He was already working a part-time lab job at the college, and we needed additional income to pay all the bills. I signed up with an employment agency which I later regretted. They found me a secretarial job, and after I was hired, I discovered that the agency had contracted with the employer guaranteeing him that I would stay there for at least nine months. No one told me about this, and I was upset. I had been trained in college to teach, and I really wanted to pursue this thinking this secretarial job would just be a stop gap measure. However, it did not work out that way with this nine month period. If I chose to leave, I would have to pay a penalty to the job agency, so I made the best of it for nine months. At the end of this time, another door opened which had previously not existed. The Ohio Optometric Association was looking for a person in public relations who could also help them publish a newsletter. Since no teaching positions were open at this time, I jumped at the chance since communications was my specialty. This job proved to be a blessing in many ways as it gave me a chance to learn more about my husband's profession in addition to providing a decent salary. God's timing was perfect.
Even today, I look back on my life at the plans that I have made and the ones that God has made for me. Guess what? The two sets of plans have not always matched. I thought I would be a Christian speaker....instead, I am a Christian writer. I thought I would be a public school teacher...instead, I home schooled for 21 years (I am so happy I did). I thought I should run my own business and for several years I did, but I found my greatest happiness in working with my husband in his practice. As Proverbs 16:9 tells us: "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." I certainly had my plans, but God sovereignly overruled me on a number of occasions. I am happy He did!
There are several reasons why the Lord may put us into places we would not have chosen for ourselves. First, He may be trying to teach us something that can only occur through our current circumstances. His goal is to daily conform us to the image of His dear Son, and He may need to break down our pride and self assurance in order to do the job. Perhaps He has placed us in the job we currently have or has us working as a homemaker for this express purpose. Secondly, God may be testing our faith and trust in Him. He is our supplier and need meeter. If we had that "all star" position, maybe we would forget Him as the Children of Israel were prone to do. He wants us to keep our eyes on Him not on our job. Finally, God may be trying to teach us to be content in every circumstance we find ourselves in. We are not citizens of this world. We are just passing through. Therefore, we need to be like the Apostle Paul when he wrote: "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philipians 4:11-13). The key to Paul's success in remaining content came from His knowledge that whatever God asked him to do he could do it because of the strength the Lord provided. The same is true for us as well.
Over the years, I have looked back on my work history and homemaking/home schooling days with thankfulness for what God has taught me. Our Lord never wastes a teachable moment in our lives. I may not have done some of the things I had planned to do, but the Lord only knows what He has spared me from as well. With this new year, we need new attitudes of gratitude or in the words of Zig Ziglar: "We need a check-up from the neck up to eliminate stinking thinking and hardening of the attitudes." May we begin to see things in light of God's plan and purpose for us so we CAN bloom where He has planted us and bring glory to His name. Selah!