I worked a lot of seemingly random jobs in college and again after I came back from a year-long adventure with Cru in New Zealand. Actually, let me rephrase that. No individual job was entirely random… but the whole collection of them together doesn’t make a lot of sense.
- Retail. (Learned that employee discounts are really just a trick to make you spend all the money you earn.)
- Medical transcriptionist. (Learned how to spell hepatosplenomegaly.)
- Name-taker at a cell phone carrier store. (Learned the importance of wearing good shoes if you’re going to be standing for eight hours.)
- Receptionist at an investment firm. (Learned the difference between stocks and mutual funds.)
- Contractor for a large pharmaceutical company. (Learned how unstable big corporate life can really be.)
- Technical writer. (Learned how to write meeting minutes so that the engineers understood what the marketing team was saying and vice versa.)
- Science teacher at an urban high school. (Learned… too many things to just pick one.)
See? Told you it was a hodge-podge.
At each job, I had to learn new things. When I started, I knew nothing about the job I would do. There was a new code to learn, new vocabulary to master, and new environments to navigate. Some were harder than others, but teaching was by far the most challenging job. It challenged me on every front. Mentally. Emotionally. Spiritually. Sometimes even physically. There were so many days that I just didn’t know what to do. Things did change over time. Some things (like lesson planning) got easier, and some things (like emotional attachments to students who made poor decisions with serious consequences) got harder.
In my first and second year of teaching, specifically, James 1:5-6 was an anchor for my soul.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6
Every time I’d crawl to the Word, feeling battered and bruised from the challenges of the day, my heart would resonate so deeply with the beginning of verse 5. “If any of you lacks wisdom…” Yes! I do! I lack wisdom! I literally don’t know what to do. How to reach that student. How to handle this class. What my students really need to learn. How to have that conversation with a co-worker. What to ask my administrator for. Often I felt like I knew nothing. Lacking wisdom felt like a constant.
As a result, the second half of verse 5 always felt like (and still does feel like) a long, cold drink of water for my parched soul. “Let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Generously and without reproach! He’s not mad that I don’t know what to do? No. He’s not annoyed that I’m asking again? Nope. He’ll give me more than just a little bit? Yep. Every time? Yes
Long, cold drink of water to a parched soul.
Wisdom granted from God in response to my asking wasn’t often a tangible thing. It wasn’t as if I prayed about it on Sunday night and had an email from the Holy Spirit on Monday morning (though I often wished for such a thing!). But God made Himself known. Slowly. Little by little. What I needed, when I needed it. A flash of inspiration for how to handle that student. An easy conversation starter with the co-worker. An opportunity to offer feedback to my administrator. A new direction for the difficult class.
I like to be in control. I like to feel like I know what I’m doing and that I know what the next, logical step is. But guess what? God didn’t design me (or you, for that matter) to be independent. He made us to be in a relationship with Him. To be dependent on Him. When I don’t know what to do, that gap between what I know and understand and all the things I don’t? That’s designed to draw me closer to a kind and generous God! One who is just waiting for me to ask for the wisdom I do not have so that He can dump buckets of it into my life.
So why do I resist asking? Why is that I try to “make things work” for so long before I come to God asking for His wisdom? I think most of my resistance can be traced to pride. Like a toddler who refuses help with a big task, I’m convinced I can figure it out.
But I can’t.
We need God to give us wisdom, and the good news is that He wants to. Generously and without reproach. So don’t hold out any longer, friend. Ask Him for wisdom and watch Him fill the gap.