This past May, I sent out resumes by the handful as I raced toward seminary graduation. I networked, made calls, and sent emails, but didn’t get any responses. A month before graduation, I had to submit a move-out notice for my apartment, since I lived in campus housing. My on-campus job was going to end the last week of the semester, and at the same time, I would age off of my parents’ health insurance policy. Life was about to get really expensive really quickly, so I made the decision to move in with my parents back home while I continued to send out my resume.
I asked the women in my small group to pray for me – that I would handle this situation in the opposite way I usually do. Rather than stressing out and trying to fix everything on my own, I desperately wanted to trust that God was working behind the scenes.
Though I had zero proof that God was working, I somehow had a peace in my heart that He wouldn’t decide He’d had enough and abandon me.
The week before graduation – my birthday week – my brother-in-law told me about a job opportunity on campus. I mentioned it to a staff member on campus whom I greatly respect. I asked if she thought I’d be a good fit for the position, even though I knew next to nothing about it. The next day, she told me she’d submitted my resume.
I didn’t hear anything else.
Then my sister who works on campus happened to run into the woman in charge of interviews.
In the bathroom, of all places.
My sister called me as I was walking into a doctor’s appointment (I was stacking appointments like crazy before I rolled off that insurance plan), and asked if I’d heard back about the job. I told her no. She told me I should’ve received an email and I needed to reach out as soon as possible.
So I made a phone call right there in the doctor’s office parking lot.
I didn’t have days to pray about whether or not I was making the right decision. Everything had to happen super quickly. So I prayed in a way I don’t do too often. I told God if I was offered the job, I’d take it as a sign that I was supposed to accept it. And if I wasn’t offered the job, I would know I was supposed to move home.
I didn’t have time to think or process or weigh pros and cons. I was just trying to survive finals and graduation and saying goodbye to the place and people I’d come to love.
Mom texted me one day and asked how I was doing, and in reply, I sent a picture of my bedroom floor, completely covered by about a foot of laundry.
I was running on empty and emotionally maxed-out.
Through a crazy series of events where just the right people were in just the right places at just the right times, I applied for the job. A couple of days later, exactly one week before graduation, I interviewed for the position. Later that same afternoon, I interviewed again.
Then nothing. I didn’t hear anything at all. I was so overwhelmed with everything else going on in my life that I didn’t let myself worry. I poured my focus into studying, taking final exams, and steaming my graduation robe. I collected boxes to pack my stuff, my parents rented a U-Haul, and I invited my friends over to celebrate my birthday and to tell them goodbye.
On May 9, 2018, I walked across the chapel stage and received my Master of Arts in Ministry to Women. Still jobless. Still moving back to my parents’ house the next day.
I left the chapel and met up with my family for pictures. Then a member of faculty and his wife stepped over to congratulate me on my graduation. And to offer me the job.
Right there in the middle of graduation excitement, while I was still riding the did-I-really-just-get-my-Masters?! adrenaline high and clutching my degree in my clammy hands, I was offered the job.
I pulled my mom over and said, “Dr. L, this is my mom. Mom, Dr. L just offered me the job.”
I cried, my mom cried. It was a whole lot of emotion all at once.
When we left campus for lunch, I had about an hour before the housing office closed for the weekend. So I quickly called Housing and asked if I could retract my move out notice. I prayed they hadn’t already filled my spot.
Guess what? They hadn’t. I got to stay. Which, admittedly, was super convenient because I hadn’t even had time to start packing yet. I think my sisters were the most excited about not attending my packing party later that night.
All of that happened on Friday. On Monday, I started training. I’m now seven months into my full-time job.
One of the pieces of the Christmas story that strikes me every year is the waiting. Not just the generations of Israelites longing for the promised Rescuer to come. Not just the four hundred years of silence between the prophets of old and the second half of the Bible.
But the time between Gabriel appearing to Mary and the birth of Jesus.
Can you imagine? What was it like for Mary to have the angel’s announcement still ringing in her ears, yet no proof that she was pregnant? Those early weeks before any signs of a new life inside her began. She believed everything had changed, but she couldn’t tell yet. She just had to wait and trust that God was even now knitting Redemption together in her womb.
I get emotional whenever I think about the song of praise Mary sang to God as soon as the angel left. She praised God for all He was going to do, even though she hadn’t seen any of it happen yet. Morning sickness hadn’t set in, little feet hadn’t kicked, and her arms hadn’t cradled a baby. Yet she believed.
And nine months later, she wrapped the Promised One in swaddling clothes and looked into the face of God Himself.
All of those childhood years of hearing a Savior would come. All of those weeks of waiting without any sign. All of those months of carrying this child, now answered in the Word made Flesh resting in her arms.
Even when she couldn’t see God working, He was. His plan was unfolding behind the scenes and, at just the right time, the Light of the World entered the darkness.
Everyone’s story doesn’t happen like mine. Believe me, I don’t take the craziness of it all for granted. And our stories certainly don’t look like Mary’s. But all of us, in one way or another, are aching for something. Many of us are begging God to intervene in our situation. Many of us just want a sign – some hope to cling to.
What is your heart longing for this Christmas? A job? A mended relationship? A husband? A baby? A friend?
I don’t know what God has planned for your life or mine, but I know He is already carrying out those plans. Though we aren’t promised everything we want, we’re promised everything we need: His Presence. And the assurance that everything will ultimately work together for our good and His glory.
Trust Him this Christmas. Trust that He is working behind the scenes, even when you don’t feel Him, hear Him, or see Him.
“The Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is His name.”
– from Mary’s Song, Luke 1:49