Choices. We make them every day. One choice may lead to a seismic shift in our personal or professional life. Another choice has a small impact, barely noticeable.
There was a time many years ago when God gave me a very important decision to make, but I scarcely knew how impactful the decision would be at the moment I made it.
I was thirty years old and out of a job as my boss, Senator Bob Smith, had lost his election. I was toying with starting the adoption process, but I also wanted to continue my work on Capitol Hill. I had a few job offers but nothing felt right until I learned that Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana was hiring for a Legislative Director (LD) position. I applied, receive a call from the Chief of Staff (CoS), and then went in for what would be my only interview.
I knew that this particular interview was going to be the biggest, most “important” interview of my life, because Mike Pence was a rising super star and already in House Leadership. I dressed to the nines, prayed a whole bunch, and even practiced my interviewing skills in front of a mirror.
The moment of truth came when I sat down with both Mr. Pence as well as his CoS.
I know you are all dying to know about what I thought of Mike Pence, so here it is: He seemed guarded, serious, authoritative, kind, and pleasant, all at the same time. Even though he seemed genuine and cordial, for some reason I was incredibly nervous during the interview. He truly intimidated me!! Maybe it was his authoritative presence, or his stern demeanor. During the interview, the CoS asked the questions while Mr. Pence sat listening, staring at me with his eyes that seemed to bore into my soul. I was so nervous that half way through the interview process I blurted out: “I am so nervous right now! I just have to say that. I don’t know why. Ok, now that that’s out of the way I feel much better!”
Yep. That happened.
Now, if you have read From the Valley to the Hill, you know that I have a tendency for the awkward during important interviews so this is nothing new. So, I was surprised when I got a call a couple of days later from his CoS.
“Hey Heather, this is ____. I wanted to give you an update on the interview process. So, it’s down to you and another candidate, and Mr. Pence and I will be deciding over the weekend and we will let you know of our decision on Monday.”
Right after the call I immediately got down on my knees and prayed, asking God to give me this job because I really, really wanted it.
All of the sudden I felt the Lord speak directly to my spirit in a very clear, unmistakable way. He asked:
“Do you want to work for Mike Pence?”
And in that moment, I felt in my spirit that God was saying to me: “Just say the word and the job is yours.”
For some reason I knew that an answer was required of me, in that moment. And that my decision was an important one and would affect the rest of my life. I was at a crossroads, and destiny was hanging in the balance.
I hesitated for a minute and then finally said. “Yes, Lord, I do. But I want your will more than I want my own to be done. So…(long pause)…you decide.”
Monday morning I got the call: they decided to go with the other guy! I was deflated. And angry.
“God, what the heck? You asked me and I said I wanted you to decide. I thought you would say “awesome Heather, in addition to this job I will give you riches and honor as well” or something like that. I never expected you would say no!! I thought you would be so thrilled that I told you I wanted your will instead of my own that you would bless me with this job! I’m so confused.”
There was silence on the other end of the line. To make a long story short, I ended up just not getting any job at all, started to work very diligently and rapidly on our adoption process, and adopted our beautiful daughter Claire about a year later.
After we brought Claire home, I had an epiphany about working for Mr. Pence. Had I chosen to say “yes Lord, I want to work for Mr. Pence” with no qualifier, I believe I very much would’ve gotten the job, and we never would’ve adopted Claire. Working on Capitol Hill as an LD is an all-consuming job, and I am quite positive I would have been unable to complete the adoption process.
Did you catch that? We would never have adopted our meant-to-be-super-special daughter, Claire.
In that moment, I was very thankful that I didn’t just go with the answer that defined what I truly wanted, but rather I let God decide what I truly needed.
So this brings me back to big choices that God gives to people. Here are just a few from Scripture:
- There was a time when God asked King Solomon to ask Him for anything, and He would answer the prayer, no matter what. King Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom. God was so impressed with his choice that He gave him wisdom greater than any king before him, and riches and honor as well. Solomon made a wise choice, and God blessed him more than any other king, ever. (By the way, I was referring to this story a bit sarcastically when I spoke to God after I found out that I did not get the job.)
- God offered a choice to the Israelites when he said “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” The Israelites, sadly, did not consistently choose God and His ways, and therefore they came under judgment several times and their kingdom was torn in half.
- Jesus gave a choice to three fishermen to drop their nets and come follow him, and Jesus would make them fishers of men instead. The men obeyed and followed, got a front row seat to Jesus’ ministry, and changed the world. He also asked a rich young ruler to follow him, but the young man went away sad, and we’ve never heard from him again.
- Finally, did you know that Jesus actually had a choice about going to the cross to die for the sins of mankind? He sure did. And in fact, Jesus asked God to choose another path for him that did not involve the cross, not once, but three times. Scripture does not record what God actually said to his Son in the Garden of Gethsemane, but it’s clear that God did not offer Jesus an alternative. Jesus, in a moment of pure humility and self-denial, finally states “Lord, would you pass this cup from me? Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Jesus basically said: “God, I would prefer another way, but you decide.”
And actually, there’s one ultimate choice that all of mankind must make: To choose for God, or choose against him. When Jesus was on the cross, in his dying moments, he was flanked by two thieves who each had a choice. One chose the path of faith and one did not. Jesus turned to the one who believed and said:
“This day you will be with me in paradise.”
So this brings me back to my story about Mike Pence. Every choice you make can have a small or big impact, and it’s hard to know, in the moment, how your choice will affect the rest of your life.
That day when God asked me if I wanted to work for Congressman Pence, I am glad that I hesitated before giving Him my answer. I am glad that I offered Him a qualifier. I offered Him a qualifier because deep in my heart, I believe that God is good, and He knows what’s best for me.
I am so glad that God chose Claire for our family. And I would always, always choose my Claire-Bear.
Because jobs come and go, but family is forever.