Back in February of this year, I found myself looking for another job assignment. As a travel nurse, every three months I took on a different contract, with a different hospital, in a different city. I’ve learned that nursing is pretty much the same no matter where you go, but the venue, well, that makes all of the difference. I travel with my husband and three daughters in an RV. We love it, and earlier this year we were excited to go somewhere new. We had enjoyed our time in South Carolina, but we were also ready for new sights to be seen.
Arizona. That’s where we wanted to go! We had never traveled out west, and though I was born in California and had family in New Mexico, I had never done more than drive through the state of Arizona. My husband and I scanned the internet for all the fabulous, outdoor activities, and we imagined ourselves hiking within the scenery of the lovely pictures we saw. We picked out the perfect, family-friendly campground near the city we wished to go, and I excitedly salivated at the KOA Resort photos.
I worked with a recruiter, and immediately made him aware of our desires. He submitted at a couple of hospitals in Tucson and nearby Phoenix, and I eagerly awaited an interview. First week, nothing. No problem, I told myself. New jobs come out every week. We submitted again, and again no phone call. We submitted applications the third week in a row, and after no interview, I began to wonder what was wrong with me.
“You have the best resume out there,” my recruiter consoled me.
Neither of us could understand it. With almost twenty years of experience and a stellar record, I was a shoo-in. What was the deal?! I hadn’t been silent in my desires for this job. I had prayed to land the Arizona contract not once, not twice, and not even just three times. I had prayed every single day to get that job! But no call came.
This morning I was reading a familiar story from Daniel about three guys named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Most of you recognize the names as the fellows who were thrown into the fiery furnace of the king after refusing to bow to his idol. The climax of the account is found when despite the blaze the men suffer no harm, and they are saved by the son of God from the fire, not even smelling like smoke when they get out. My husband’s favorite part is when the king looks down and sees four men instead of three, and that was my favorite too until something else stuck out to me this morning as I read.
When King Nebuchadnezzar tells them they better bow down to his idol or they’re going in the furnace they reply that they’re not worried because their God will save them, but it’s the flip side of their reply that got me.
They continued, “but even if He doesn’t…”
Even if He doesn’t.
They knew God could do it. They had faith He could. But the real faith came in the statement that even if He didn’t, they still believed their God was the one and only true God. They wouldn’t bow down to anything else.
When I first realized I wasn’t getting a phone interview I was upset. I blamed it on my own lack to stand out, but then I was reminded of my prayers. Much like our fire repellant trio, I had prayed in faith.
“Lord,” I had prayed, “I really pray I get the job in Arizona, but above all, I want your will.”
I had wanted the job in Arizona, but even more than that I wanted to serve the Lord. I knew His sovereignty. I knew His omniscience. He knew from beginning to end, point A to point B, what was best for my family, and how best we might be used. Knowing this, I prayed for Arizona, but more than that I prayed He would take care of us and take us where we needed to go.
God didn’t answer my prayer to land the job in Arizona, and sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers. It’s in these times we must decide if we will continue to pray in a state of “even if He doesn’t.”
Even if He doesn’t, I love Him.
Even if He doesn’t, I trust Him.
Even if He doesn’t, I am blessed.
I am blessed because He loves me, and many times a part of being a loving Father is saying no.
When my six-year-old wants to get a 20 ounce Coke from the store, my husband says no.
When my eight-year-old wants to spend the night at the friend’s house who she met ten minutes prior, her father says no.
When my three-year-old wants to play with a cell phone instead of using her imagination outside, her dad says no.
None of these things would kill the kids if he said yes (unless those new friend’s parents were psychopaths), but it was, in the very least, much better for them if he said no.
God loves when we ask because He loves talking with us, and He always answers. It’s just that His answer isn’t always yes. Many times it’s no, because more than anything He loves us and desires His best for us, not our best for us.
When we can face the fiery furnace of this life and say, “but even if He doesn’t,” then we are truly blessed. We’re blessed because we understand that the hot pits of this world mean nothing when held in comparison to eternity in His presence and love. It may get uncomfortable for a little while, it may even be painful, but it doesn’t last. Even if He doesn’t save you from your present fire, He promises to deliver you forever to a lasting afterlife of no more pain. Sometimes fire is just meant to purify us, to burn out the places that don’t belong. Sometimes you gotta smell like smoke a little to remind you of the truth.
And the truth is…
Even if He doesn’t,
He still loves you. He still has plans to prosper you. He still has plans to work out all things for your good.
Even if He doesn’t,
He’s still God, and we won’t bow down to anything less just to avoid a little fire.