I've the heard the concept of God "opening" or "closing" doors to let you know which direction he wants you to head in many times over the years, but I've never felt like I really understood it. I've never had an experience that really demonstrated that for me. Until now.
I've been in the Chicago area now for about 16 years. There have been many times over the years when I've just wanted to get out, get away, move somewhere new, be somebody else. I've even made plans and started acting on them from time to time. But every time something has stopped me. It's never been something concrete. There's never been a voice that I could hear. Nothing like that. But every time, I've just had the sense that God wants me to stay here. And over time I've developed quite the community, become really rooted in my church and the ministries I've been involved in, become a respected part of the theatre and music community in the area, developed a circle of friends with deep and abiding relationships. And of course, perhaps most importantly, I met my wife and got married here, started a family. Ultimately I am glad that God led me here and has kept me here as long as he has.
And now, just as I've settled in and felt truly content to remain indefinitely in this area, all of that is changing. As you can see from some of my previous posts I have been having job problems for some time now. Mostly, recently, its been the lack of one. I have been looking, sometimes more than others, for about 2 years now, and pretty much nothing has come along. I had a stint with Aflac, which was a great company to work for, but it didn't bear any fruit (i.e. income). All of that time I've pretty much been looking only in the Chicago area - after all God kept telling me to stay here, right?
Well, as we were talking about this with my brother-in-law, who lives in Sioux Falls, SD, he mentioned (very off handedly - I'm not even sure he was entirely serious at the time) that I should look for something in Sioux Falls since the job market isn't as tight there. Ding, ding, ding, ding! My Beautiful Beloved and I hadn't even really considered the possibility of looking anywhere else, but why not? Certainly nothing is coming along in this area. So we arrange a time for us to come up and visit for a week and I start sending out resumes like mad to try and get some interviews set up for while we're there. Ultimately, in the space of about 2 weeks, I got 4 interviews set up - more interest than has been shown in 2 years down in Chicagoland.
Then, as if to tease or confuse - or perhaps in retrospect it was merely to clarify, I all of a sudden get a promise of interviews with 2 different Christian organizations in the Chicago area - one a church whose priest promises he will not move forward until he meets with me, the other a Christian-owned business whose owner promises me an interview. Then the week or so before we were supposed to go to Sioux Falls the church calls (before they've even scheduled an interview with me) to say that they've already hired somebody else the elder board liked, and the business emails to inform me (again before I've had the chance to interview) that they are hiring from within. I remember suggesting that it felt as if the doors were slamming shut down here, while they seemed to be opening up in Sioux Falls.
Well, I just got back from our trip to Sioux Falls - and I have a job! Not only do I have a job, but they called me the day before the interview to let me know that the original position I had been considered for was no longer available but they wanted to consider me for a new position, which as they described it seemed to fit me even better. Plus, it was the highest paying job of any of the ones I interviewed with. And they offered me the job immediately following my interview, so I knew about it right away. Which felt very much as if God were closing doors in Illinois and opening them wide in South Dakota - I've never had that sense quite so clearly as now.
I don't know if this is everybody's experience, or even if it is most people's experience, but my experience has been that I don't often recognize all of what God is doing until after it's done, and then I can see exactly how he's brought me to this point. For instance, looking back now, I can see how God has kind of been loosening us from our community a little bit, so that when the time came it would be a lot easier to leave. Perhaps wiser people than I am recognize those sorts of things earlier, I don't know. Then again, maybe that's why faith is so important. Even when we can't see what's ahead, and what all of this is leading up to, God can. He knows exactly where he's leading me, and what he's leading me towards, and he is preparing me every step of the way. Even if I can't recognize it at the time, I still need to trust that that is the case, and remember all of the times in the past that he has done that for me.
So, finally, after a long, long hallway with a lot of closed doors we are finally stepping through an open door into a whole new place and what seems like a whole new life. I don't know what all God has in store for me, but if it's as good as what he's done for me in the past, then I am looking forward to it!