I've had some encouraging conversations along the way and some devastatingly disappointing ones. I haven't made it past the first cut on several positions, but have been called up or called in for a few interviews. It's been a long road and I'm not sure when or where it will end. All I know is that my family is depending on me.
All along the way, I have struggled with trust ... Trusting the Lord that He has a plan, that he hasn't forgotten about me, that there is a place for me, and that he's not done with me yet. Trusting that this is all leading to something good. Nevertheless, I have been seeking Him this whole time and have been trying to follow Him.
And that's what the Holy Spirit reminded me of this morning at church: "Follow Jesus." As I wrestled with anxious thoughts about how everything was going to work out, I was reminded of this in a simple song we sung at the end of the service. The song was a prayer that our one consuming ambition would be to follow Jesus. And I was reminded ... following Jesus is what matters most.
As you look for a job over several months, it is so tempting to fall into anxiety or despair. What if this opportunity doesn't work out? What then? What if this is my last chance to get a job I will love? What if at the end of it all I get turned away again? Or what if it does work out? What's going to happen then? All the "what ifs" can drive you crazy.
But the truth is, whether you're secure in a steady job you've had for a decade or you've been looking for a job for almost a year (and believe me, I've been in both situations) following Jesus is the only key to peace. A steady job can evaporate in a single conversation with your boss. And a job offer can appear just as suddenly. But the only important question is: "Are you following Jesus?" That's the only thing that truly matters.
The phrase, "Follow me," appears on the lips of Jesus about twenty times in the Gospels. The first occurrence happens in Matthew 4. Peter was casting a net into the Sea of Galilee with his brother when Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matt. 4:18). Peter had no idea following Jesus would lead to walking on water (Matt. 14:29), doing amazing miracles (Acts 5:12-16), being beaten by the Jewish authorities (Acts 5:40), being imprisoned and facing execution by the Roman governor (Acts 12:3-5), being miraculously delivered from that execution by an angel (Acts 12:6-11), and ultimately being killed because he was a disciple of Jesus (John 21:18-19).
Just like Peter, none of us can see our path from beginning to end. But just like Peter, we can choose to follow Jesus. And if you are following him, then you can have comfort in whatever situation you're facing. Jesus has a path for you. There is a plan. It may seem that you continue to hit dead ends, but that is just part of the journey. He uses those dead ends and false starts for your good, maybe to teach you something or maybe just to draw you closer to him. But we know those events are not wasted because "all things work together for good for those who love God" (Rom. 8:28).
If you are following Jesus, then He will lead you in the right direction. If you're following him, then it's okay if the next opportunity or the next event doesn't go the way you want. Even if your worst fear comes true, if you're following Jesus then everything is okay. If your following him, you're right at the center of God's will. "For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's" (Rom. 14:8).
At the end of our life, it won't matter how many dead ends we hit, how many roadblocks we encountered, or how many hills we had to climb. It won't matter if your path took you exactly where you wanted to go or took you in a direction that full of disappointments and heartache. All that will matter is being able to say, "I followed Jesus down the path he had for me."
So trust him ... and keep following.