Not till God tells me………

“Dan! I’m feeling like I’m in a dead-end situation, but I’m not going to move until God tells me to do so!”

I received this note recently from a reader – and it represents thousands of similar notes I've received over the last 20 years.

The writer continues,

“Dan, I’m miserable, frustrated, anxious, sick, exhausted, bored, nervous, worried, concerned, restless, fearful, frightened, apprehensive, troubled, upset, angry, exasperated, incensed, infuriated, discouraged, aggravated, maddened, offended, disappointed, distressed, anguished, tormented, suffering, afflicted, suffering, persecuted” – well, you get the idea.  But he's not going to move until God himself “tells” him to.

Just today I received another note from a lady who said, “My spirit is broken.  I feel like I have lost my ability to hope and dream and believe in myself and my abilities.”

The challenging thing is to know how God “tells” us to move. My observation is that it’s usually not an audible voice butgod_speaks rather in experiencing frustration, anxiety, physical maladies and lack of peace.  Aren't those legitimate ways God could speak to encourage us to move, to try something new?

48 Days Coach Joel Boggess told me once:  “Maybe the burning bush scene that a lot of folks (with the best of intentions) hope to see, happens internally and consumes from within.”  Wow – I think that’s profound.  The burning bush we are hoping to see is actually burning us up – consuming us from the inside out with our anxiety and anger.

Uncertainty, frustration in or even losing a job or business can often be simply a prod to a higher level of success.  The eagles build a nest using thornbush strands to lock it together.  Then they cover them with leaves and feathers to make it soft and comfortable.  However, when the eaglets are about twelve weeks old, mom and dad eagles begin to remove the protection from the thorns.  Pretty soon the little eaglets are up on the edge of the nest to avoid the pain and discomfort.  Then mom and dad eagle fly by with tasty morsels of food just out of reach.  Soon the little eaglet makes a big leap to get away from the pain and the hunger, and you know what happens – rather than the anticipated crashing on the rocks below, he learns he can fly.  I truly believe that oftentimes God allows circumstances in our lives, not to leave us in pain or hungry, but to lead us to higher levels of success that we would not otherwise explore.

If we don’t respond to the discomfort, how do really expect God to move us?  Do you wait until you’re fired and then assume God did that?  Do you wait until you have ulcers?  Till you have a heart attack?  Or until you are so frustrated that you lash out at someone in anger?

Recognize that a “dead-end situation” may itself be God’s way of trying to get you to move.  Don’t expect Him to come down here, grab you by the collar and jerk you out of there.  You’ve got to move yourself.

See this time in your life as one of those times – the beginning of a new season in your life.  And see this opportune time and the desire to find the work that God has for you to do as some of those thorns that are causing you to look for some new alternatives.

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  • Bob

    Boy, this sure hit home today!!!! However, I am not waiting for God to tell me to get outta my current, I know I need to get outta there but how is the question for me. I have looked but to no avail. But I also know part of my problem is that I really don’t know what to do next. I am a 57 yo entry level IT manager with a total of 36 years experience and I have been stuck in this level for 16 years now and want to get out. I know pretty much I am not manager material but the pay is nice. I would kinda like to go back to development but the tool sets that everyone is using today is web based and I just barely know enough to spell it but not how to develop in it. Plus, going back to development my pay would be drastically cut since I would not be a high level developer starting out. Just frustrating as hell.

    • Matthew Wagner

      Agree.. knowing I’m unhappy is one thing and how and where I should move is another? I’ve left the last two jobs I’ve had after 3-4 years because they got to the point I was miserable daily doing them, so I left. Now am at that point with another……sure I want to quit TODAY, but not sure where to go and what to do. Have not really developed other profitable skills and want to stay in the Lord’s will but very frustrated and confused as to the voice of God. Don’t have many answers but thank you for bringing this plight to light and discussing.

    • Here’s a note I got from a young guy who was shoeing horses:

      I’M PRAYING WITH MY LEGS NOW THANKS TO YOU!!

Dear Dan, I just wanted to say thank you so much for your books and podcasts, I feel like I get to sit down and have coffee with you every Friday, I’ve been listening for the past 2.5 years 🙂 

I am a Farrier and thought I could never get out of this line of work, but thanks to listening to you I taught myself to be a software developer studying 21 hours every week for the past 7 months, I blogged about the entire journey 3 times per week.

I just launched my “Resume site” http://www.joshuakemp.net on May 23rd to try and get hired and have already received 2 job offers with many other possible opportunities!

Thank you so much Dan for teaching me to take action, be remarkable, and then incredible things can happen!!

      And then this followup a couple of weeks later:

      [email protected]
      Your City & State
      Warrenton, va
      Your Question/Comment
      Hey Dan,
I’m the farrier who learned to code. I just wanted to let you know that I ended up getting a great job that pays $70K and gives 4 weeks PTO, I say this not to brag, but to encourage others to step out, take action and go for their dreams. I ended up writing an ebook “No Degree, No Problem” and put it out last week on Amazon. I never thought I would write a book, but had so many people asking how I did it, and how they could as well I decided to do what I thought you would do and: “write the book you wish was written”. I wanted to see if I could send you a copy of the book, wasn’t sure how to get it to you. Thanks for inspiring me and encouraging me to take action, to change my family’s life!

  • Jevonnah Ellison

    I cannot begin to tell you how good this is Dan. Here’s the golden ticket: it’s what you say all the time – DREAM, PLAN, ACT. Too many are good at doing the first 2, but fail to ACT and then want to use “doing the will of God” as an excuse for not taking action.

    Love what you said here: “Recognize that a “dead-end situation” may itself be God’s way of trying to get you to move. Don’t expect Him to come down here, grab you by the collar and jerk you out of there. You’ve got to move yourself.”

    Thank you for addressing this topic.

    • Jevonnah – thanks so much for your comments. I continue to be baffled by how some people expect God to manage their lives. Just today it was raining hard and I needed to get gas in my car. But no matter how much I prayed and expected God to take care of me, I still had to get out of the car and put the hose in my car to get that gas.

  • Gary Townsend

    How can God work through us, if we’re not willing to do anything? Technically, God can still act, even if we’re not cooperating or refusing to cooperate (he can raise up children to Abraham from stones, after all — Matt 3.9), but who wants to see and suffer the consequences of THAT?!

    As someone said long ago, the first two letters of God spell “go,” but the first three letters of Satan spell “sat.” I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily the best sort of thing on which to build one’s theology, but our God is a creative God, a God who builds, and what he wills shall happen whether we want to be a part of it or not.

    • Gary – we do need to be willing to do anything. But how do we “cooperate” with God? People often choose something that’s not a fit for them because they assume being miserable is “Godly.” How sad.

      • Gary Townsend

        Dan,

        I was taught many years ago that unless our desires specifically contradict God’s Word, that we can safely assume that they come from God, and there are Scripture passages which back this up. Psalm 37:4 is one good example from the OT:

        “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday” (Ps. 37: 3-6, NKJV).

        Ecclesiastes, too, tells us the same, but with a warning:

        “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity” (Eccl. 11:9-10, NKJV).

        And that fits well with the concluding verses of Ecclesiastes, too, Eccl. 12:13-14.

        It is, indeed, a strange, but sad, thing that so many have the belief that being miserable is practically synonymous with being “Godly,” when God commands us to rejoice. But also, just because God says He will give us the desires of our heart, that doesn’t mean that they won’t come with trouble (and I don’t mean misery). Trials and tribulations are a part of this world and we won’t be taken out of them. Rather, in the NT, we are told to rejoice in them.

        With those things in mind, what matters from that point on (the point that we recognize that our desires, unless sinful, come from God), I think, is how we use our desires. Do we use them in obedience to God or not? That, in part, I think, is one of the ways in which we “cooperate” with God. There’s a lot to be said, obviously, about helping others, in ways Christ mentioned, giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, etc, since He said that when we do that we do it to Him, since we all have His image in us. But there’s no reason to believe that these are the ONLY ways in which we can help others. We can do this in any and every way imaginable — so long as it doesn’t contradict God’s Word.

        And, finally, we all fit in differently, since we each obviously have different desires. Is this not the point, in part, of Paul’s analogy of the Church with the body (1 Cor 12:12-27, esp. v18, which seems to have relevance to this particular topic)? To get a mite technical, in economics this is called the “division of labor.”

  • Thank you for this Dan. Thank you from the depths of my spirit.

  • Melissa

    Wow, what a prolific article about giving yourself a swift kick in the “ass”. I know I’ve been needing to do this instead of wasting my time and energy trying to figure out my next move in my job search. Thanks Dan, I’ve been receiving all the signals but too impaled with fear to let go and move forward.

    • Melissa – cool. If you’re receiving all the signals, now create a plan based on what you know and ACT. The plan doesn’t have to be perfect – just start moving and you’ll get more clarity as you are moving forward.

      • Melissa

        Thanks for the advice. I have taken on a role in the mailroom for a local company as a temp position. For 10 years I was a road traveling software trainer and then a sales rep for a retail company, but I now find myself drawn to tasking rather than being in the “spotlight”. As of now, it has been a breath of fresh air.