Four months after my husband and I were married, I lost my job. Two months after that, my husband also lost his. While in Texas visiting me during the spring prior to when we were married, a child playing with fire in the apartment directly below his caught the building on fire. We were told there was nothing left of his living room floor, and due to the asbestos in the walls, no one was allowed in. Then the Hayman fire in Colorado came within evacuation distance from the home of a friend where he was staying. You could say 2002 was a rough year for him and a rough beginning for the two of us!
In the months that followed, one of my sweetest and most fond memories is when we had enough money for a full tank of gas. Struggling for weeks to find employment, we decided to use that tank for a break instead, and drove to Rocky Mountain National Park for much needed relaxation. After that, a full tank of gas was all the excuse we needed to get in the car and just drive! And drive we did, all over the state of Colorado! Looking back now I easily see it was the most precious gift given to us by God Himself, and felt like magic! Passions for photography were awakened in Uwe that had long been dormant, and the photos he was taking were stunning!
Time moved on and I eventually got a job that helped cover rent and some bills. Uwe had been unable to find a job at this point, and so began to seriously consider going back to school for a complete change of careers, to earn a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. Why nursing, you ask? It seemed the most logical! Seeking a career that was not subject to the economy as much as the ones we had just left, nursing seemed to be the one sure bet towards a degree worthwhile.
So we prayed for God to bless this new direction. Driving home late one afternoon across town towards the East and talking about it, he said aloud, “I wish God would just give me a sign”. How easy that would be, like putting your money in a slot machine and guaranteed to pull the winning lever! And then it happened. As we were driving and directly after that moment, the most brilliant double rainbow we had ever seen appeared in the eastern sky. It was amazing! “OK Lord, we will take that as Your sign, thank you very much!” Afterwards, everything seemed to fall right into place. Government funding for school he had earned from the military kicked in, and student loans were granted far too easily – no problem!
Five years later, Uwe had his BSN in hand and was now ready to launch a new career in the health industry. But for reasons too detailed and lengthy to go into here, that dream never materialized. The more time that passed since graduation the more one thing became clear: God did not choose that path for us. We chose that path for ourselves. All that remains now of that dream, confirmed by a “sign”, is the debt incurred by the student loans.
What do you do in a situation like that? We felt so assured that God was in and through it all, guiding us in the direction He wanted us to go. So why now were we facing nothing but dead ends? Demoralizing and depressing, it began a downward spiral that left us scratching our heads and asking God why for years.
Of course, the story does not end there! Uwe eventually returned to his passion, which is photography, and is steadily gaining a solid reputation as a Nature & Wildlife Photographer! Over the years that followed, he also saw repeated confirmations on why working in today’s Healthcare Industry would not have been the right choice for him. On the flip side we also saw the providence of God in and through it, as the knowledge gained from the BSN, shared and put to use, proved to save lives not only during his clinicals but beyond as well – just not in the setting he first expected. But realizing all of this was a slow and often painful process.
Not too long ago as I was reading through the book of 1 Samuel, I came across an interesting passage I had not paid much attention to previously. You are probably familiar with it. The people of Israel want a king appointed over them. Though Samuel warns against having a king and outlines reasons against it, they insist. We find in verse 22 of chapter 8, after Samuel tells the Lord of this, the Lord says to Samuel “Listen to their voice, and appoint them a king.”
Let that sink in on you for a moment. In case you are not familiar with the story of all the Kings over Israel, not many had a heart after God like King David. Most did not, and Israel suffered greatly because of it. So why did God say yes? Why did we see that rainbow at precisely the right moment? We’ve seen many just like it since, by the way, and I am reminded of a popular comedian today named Bill Engvall, who has a famous skit called “Here’s Your Sign”. I laughingly say that, not because I think God would ever call us idiots as the skit would imply, but just maybe sometimes because of our own short-sightedness, we aren’t able to see what is staring us right in the face. Uwe’s heart was never in nursing, it was in photography and writing!
Someone told me once there are 5 words that outline the key to peace and contentment: “Not my will, but Thine”. This is what Jesus spoke back to the Father in the garden of Gethsemane, when the weight of the world was about to be poured out upon His shoulders. You see, God will not override our will. We have to submit that freely. This means, just as in the case of Israel, there are often times when He may grant us what we want, even though it is not what He would have chosen for us. The good news is found in Romans Chapter 8, verses 26 to 28:
26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Simply put, even when we make the wrong choices, God causes all to work for good and for His glory, and even when we don’t know what or how to pray, His Spirit is there to pray with us and on our behalf. We don’t have to be afraid of making the wrong life choices, but we also know there is involved the element of our will. When we are willing to give up our right to ourselves, and say with Christ, “Not my will, but Thine”, that is when His healing balm begins to wash over our souls and bring us out of that downward spiral. That is when we lose our own life and find new life, real life, in Christ.