“I’m not coming back next fall.” That is what I told him. He was my principal; I was an 8th grade teacher. Faith moves.
Deciding to quit my stable, secure and even rewarding job as an eighth grade teacher in suburban Texas was not an overnight decision. It was one that took three years—and I had only taught for four. I was never miserable. It was not like my job had zero interaction. I wasn’t stuck in a cube in the seeming anonymity of corporate America making spreadsheets and clinging to my Office Space red stapler. I worked with 14-year-olds. Every day was extremely different, wickedly hormonal and highly dramatic. Every single day I got to laugh with my students and usually laugh hard—not to mention the paid vacations.
All of these conditions made my teaching job seem perfect, or at least rational from the perspective of my finite mind; and yet there was something in me that could not shake the sense that I was forcing God into something that I could know, that I could see—that I could control. I had this feeling that I was playing it safe, that the Lord was indeed calling me to the “immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20), and when it came down to it, to making a decision that required me to really believe in an unseen God—I was scared. Just plain, old, big, furry spider scared.
Why the fear? I mean, it makes sense to want the immeasurably more, right? Didn’t I want life abundantly?
Without a doubt.
And I was a total pro when it came to talking about the immeasurably more that God intended for me and even praying for it, but when actually called to move into it, I allowed my fears and my logic to speak louder than His Spirit. I was terrified into maintaining the “not bad” the “decent,” because I couldn’t predict the logistics like insurance and rent money if I really believed God, because I was fearful of insecurity, and perhaps most crippling, because I was scared out of my mind of my own passions and desires, of the way God created me and the things he might want to say through me. Knowing desperately I wanted to be used, every ounce of me—the good and the bad, but so scared of actually moving into that place of purposeful ambiguity and ruthless trust.
So for three years, I opted to play it safe and do life within the bounds my finite mind could comprehend—consequently severely limiting God’s movement through me and in essence, trading His “immeasurably more,” His wild freedom, for my chains, or what I like to call my safe little prison of a life. Not a bad place, maybe like a halfway house or minimum-security prison or house arrest on the prison scale—but prison nonetheless.
Finally, after frustrating and saddening myself enough in my safe, limited life, the Lord began making my “half-life,” my half-pursuit of Him real to me: I was not, in fact, believing His promises for me. I was choosing not to believe that God could use me fully—all of my quirks, passions, desires—even though I proclaimed with my mouth that He could, I slowly began seeing, that my life was saying He could not. God could not.
Whoa. Seriously? I was frustrated—not exactly a good feeling but ultimately a healing one.
By realizing my self-imposed incubation and allowing God to start stripping away the fear, my faith was beginning to move—and it was freedom. Out of my half-life, I began the process of really believing Him and who His word says He is and tells me I am. Just allowing Him, circumstance by circumstance, to move me, to cause me to lean into Him more and more and begin to dance. This dance, this trust, sometimes slow and tender, sometimes fast and passionate—it’s where alive, really alive, is found. Leaning into Him and pressing towards Him. It’s where the half-life becomes whole—and it is breathtakingly beautiful.
Maybe these words would carry more weight if I was on the other side of the “immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine.” If I could say I resigned from teaching and Jesus made me a rock star, or dropped the love of my life out of the sky, or gave me profound words of wisdom and captivated audiences on a daily basis, or I was suddenly now extremely disciplined about working out and eating right, or all of my family loved Jesus wholeheartedly, or I had finally gotten over myself, or whatever it is you deeply desire—but I’m not there yet, and I’m learning that faith is not magic. Faith is not a means to get what I want—it is a way to see more and more of God and become more and more beautiful because I understand His grace maybe a little bit better than I once did. It is a way to be able to look at people and love them.
I still don’t know what is next, and am sometimes not exactly sure why I resigned and have to battle my doubt and my mind often but am learning to embrace the difficulties and uncertainties that I face because I can cling to the One who is. He just is. There is something about his “I am-ness” (Exodus 3:14) that gives me the courage to move, that makes my faith real, that wraps me up and holds my hand.
So I quit my job, I did not go back in the fall, and everything is not easy and perfect. Irresponsible? Some would say yes. Immeasurably more? Even though nothing is nailed down, yes. He is showing me the immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine in each new day and that is enough foresight. He is enough.
Faith moves. Be encouraged. Let Him move you.