I was recently reminded of a fable/joke involving a man in a flood…
Once upon a time, a man was trapped in a flood. In an effort to be rescued, he climed to his rooftop and began praying for the Lord to save him. Along comes a boat, and the people on the boat cry, “Jump in! We’re heading for shore!” The man replies, “No thanks – I’m waiting for the Lord to save me!” The boat leaves. A few minutes later, a helicopter comes by and throws down a ladder. “Climb in,” they shout. The man replies, “That’s OK – I’m waiting for the Lord to save me.” The helicopter flies away. The man eventually drowns, and when he gets to heaven, he says to the Lord, “What happened? I was your faithful servant and I prayed for you to save me!?” The Lord replies, “I sent a boat and a helicopter – what more did you want?”
The point of the story is that sometimes we stand in our own way. The Lord might be trying to throw us a lifeline, but because it’s not in the dramatic, miraculous way that we envision, we let the opportunity pass us by.
I was reminded of this story recently when I was faced with a crossroads in my career path. To quickly fill you in on the backstory, I left my former position as a regional manager with a local chain of fitness centers in September. I hadn’t been happy for several months, and when the economy went sour and I no longer agreed with their principles (or lack thereof), our relationship quickly ended. Given that the economy had depleted the job market substantially, I went back to work with a retail chain for which I had worked previously as a seasonal associate (I knew they were hiring for the Holidays). As luck would have it, within two weeks of being there as a seasonal associate, an Assistant Manager position became available, and I was asked to step in.
I very much enjoyed my position, as well as the team, and I was very thankful to have such a great job – if only through the Holidays. However, my pride was slightly hurt at having to go back to retail (something I left behind years ago as I began to climb the “Corporate ladder”), and my selfish side was inconvenienced by the retail schedule (working weekends, some holidays, late nights, etc). So I continued to search for other opportunities – managerial positions in a “normal” office environment. I even accepted another position with another company – one that promised all the things I was looking for. Meanwhile, my store manager at the retail chain began networking on my behalf within the company, in hopes of finding a position that might keep me with the company.
I hated the new position with the new company, and I realized very quickly that the promises made to me were empty if not outright lies. As I confided my frustrations with my store manager, she began to inform me of upcoming openings and opportunities within the company that would not only provide me with the personal career growth I was seeking, but also with the financial comfort I needed. Once again, my selfish side took over, and I actually considered staying with the awful new position just to have the Mon-Fri schedule I desired versus a position with a company I loved and would, in the long run, provide better stability and growth.
And that’s when I was reminded of the story of the man in the flood. Here I was, praying every night that the Lord would take care of me and provide me with a job that would pay my bills and that I would enjoy…and yet, when I was offered those opportunities, I dismissed them because I was waiting for some dramatic miracle. And then I had a WIZARD OF OZ moment where I realized that I didn’t need to look any further than my own backyard to find happiness.
So I accepted a terrific growth opportunity with this retail chain. And once I let the decision sink in and paperwork and the like made the decision final, I immediately felt a sense of peace. I knew now that that is where the Lord intended for me to be, and now that I had gotten out of my own way and surrendered to the Lord’s Will, I could see the possibilities that were awaiting me….
So get out of your own way, people, and listen to your gut (which often is the Lord trying to tell you something). And if you follow His Will, everything else will work itself out.