I was sitting in the dark in the parking lot of an old diner. It was 10:45 and just thirty-six degrees, and the inside of my car was cold. I pulled a blanket from the back seat and wrapped it around me, and through my windshield I stared up at the sky. The night was clear and the stars were bright.
It had been a long day of rude, picky customers, employee drama, and a leaky soda cooler (again!). My arms were sore from uprooting dead pine stumps in my grandma’s yard early that morning, and I’d made the hour-and-a-half drive back home with just enough time to change clothes and speed back to work. My dog had just gotten sprayed by a skunk that afternoon and the smell still lingered on me. I’d already cried once while re-mopping a wet floor somebody carelessly walked on.
I waited on my boyfriend, Crockett, to drive over and meet me. He’d made a very important decision today, and I’d been nervously waiting all day to find out what it was.
Six weeks ago, Crockett was offered the position of Youth Pastor at a newly-forming church in South Carolina. God called him to ministry several years ago, and by becoming more involved with our church he established connections with different ministers, churches, and organizations. One of these reached out to him and offered him the position. It came with great benefits, and it seemed to us to be an amazing God-sent opportunity.
We started planning immediately. If we accepted it, we’d get married over Christmas break and move to South Carolina the next day. I’d continue my college education through online courses. I could quit my fast-food job here and most definitely find better job opportunities in such a large city.
We prayed about it together and on our own.We sought wisdom from the Bible, and Crockett got guidance from other church leaders and friends.
I wanted this so badly!
I desperately wanted to get out of my job and college lectures and leave my hometown for bigger, better opportunities. I tried to influence Crockett to accept it, even though I wasn’t sure yet that it was God’s will.
When I realized I was not getting any answers or guidance because I was only praying for what I wanted, I began praying for his will (of course, I was still biased toward accepting the offer).
So I prayed for his will, and guess what? I got it. While praying one night, God spoke to me. “Stay” is the word I saw very clearly.
I didn’t tell Crockett this, though. I foolishly hoped that God would tell him otherwise, and that we’d be packed and leaving for the beach in two months’ time.
And so when Crockett told me the news, I cried. Pretty hard, actually.
He prayed through the night on the day of the deadline to accept the position. In the middle of his praying, very late at night, a church friend texted him. “I don’t know what it is you’re thinking about doing, but I just feel urged to tell you, now is NOT the time,” he said. He had no idea about the decision Crockett had to make.
I had imagined myself as a pastor’s wife, integrating myself into the new church family, starting women’s Bible studies, and teaching the youth alongside my husband. I wanted to live in the furnished home we wouldn’t have to pay for. I wanted to find a new job and take online classes. I wanted to walk on the beach in my spare time. I wanted to Skype with my family back home and send them postcards from two wholes states south of Virginia. I wanted to be free and independent and start a family.
But God said no.
This was a great opportunity, but it wasn’t from him. It isn’t his time for us to leave our families and homes and church to reach people three hundred miles away.
God told us we still have work to do here in Tazewell.
I was crushed. What a wasted opportunity, I bitterly thought to myself. I was so angry and sad. Crockett tried to comfort me—he is content with obeying God, and he is happy to stay since this is where God wants us—but I didn’t want to listen. I didn’t want to obey. I only saw a lost opportunity, not the one gained by staying.
Frankly, I don’t know what purpose we have by staying here.
Between school and my job and homework, I don’t feel like I’m doing any work for God’s kingdom, and I don’t feel like I affect or influence the people I encounter. I spend so much time rushing from class to class, being cooped up in the house doing schoolwork, and making sandwiches that I don’t feel like I really have a greater purpose, and I definitely don’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything.
Yet God has told me through his word and through other people that I have a great work to do for him. He reminds me that I can’t give up and that I still have hope. He shows me he is faithful and his way is the best. And as much as I’ve been doubting lately, I know these are still his truths.
I wanted to leave. I wanted to start over with a fresh new life. But in doing so, I’d be running away from God’s will for me. And though this is a very hard thing to say with a crushed spirit, I still want his will to be done rather than my own. I know his way is best.
So for now, I stay.
Has God called you to “stay”?
How have you coped with the disappointment or found your purpose?
Let’s discuss in comments!
Emilee Hackney is a recent high school graduate living in the
mountains in Tazewell, VA. She is attending a local college
this fall where she hopes to discover God’s plan for her career. She
loves her grandma’s house, her boyfriend of three and a half years,
and anything with an unhealthy amount of sugar.