Updated: Jan 27, 2020
By Kim Butler
I was raised in a strong Christian family where daily family prayers for guidance and direction were a big part of our lives. We loved the Lord and sincerely desired to please him by following and applying the principles He taught us by His example. It was quite natural for us to wonder if we were headed in the right direction when we were faced with major decisions at the crossroads of our lives. Should I take this job or that job? Should I go to this university or that university? Should I marry this person or that person?
I am fascinated now as I look back over my life to see how our prayers were at times answered in ways other than we with our limited human vision would have expected. It has always been our desire to faithfully follow and apply the teachings of Jesus Christ according to our faith and understanding of the Holy Scriptures. But as I look back over my life, I can see times when the struggle to survive economically threatened our desire to keep God’s commandment to honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy, which has always been a high priority for us. From my current vantage point, I am now able to look back and see the hand of God opening new doors for us as other doors were closing.
There was a time when my father took employment as a janitor in our local hospital in Rupert, Idaho to supplement his income on the farm, and this side-job required him to work on some Sundays. My father was a deeply religious man who believed in obeying the Ten
Commandments, including the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy. Taking this job was in conflict with his personal beliefs and desires, but he didn’t see a good alternative at that time.
This side job continued for several years until life at the hospital became very difficult because of friction with a new boss. The day when this new boss let my father go from that job was a very fearful time for my father because he was losing the income that our family depended on. When your boss tells you to take a hike, a lot of negative emotions kick in. I know this from my own personal experience. My dad was always a man of faith. He was a humble, faithful follower of Jesus Christ. So why was he losing his job? Why wasn’t he being blessed?
The Lord told Isaiah, "My ways are higher than your ways" (Isaiah 55:9). Sometimes God is trying to answer our prayers by steering us in a different direction. Sometimes, the very thing we fear is the blessing we have been praying for. Sometimes we need to be kicked out of our comfortable nest in order to grow and receive the blessings God is trying to give us. God was trying to bless my dad, but he first needed to let go of the security of that job in order to receive something better. I remember his anxiety as he came home from work that day wondering what he was going to do next.
During the time my father was working at the hospital, we had been building our own home. A carpenter friend of my father’s named Roy Dalsoglio had been advising my dad while he was building our home. As a consequence of building our home, my father had developed carpentry skills that were valuable. The very next day after losing his job at the hospital, he was hired by Roy Dalsoglio and that began a new very rewarding career for him as a carpenter and cabinet maker. Losing his janitorial job was the only way that Heavenly Father could bless my dad with something better. Now my father was able to more fully keep the Sabbath day holy as he desired because he didn't have to work on Sundays anymore.
What did I learn from this experience as I watched my father doing his best to provide for our family and to obey the commandments of God? I learned that God expects us to do our best, but He doesn’t always answer or solve our problems in the way we expect. Sometimes the Lord has to pry our hands off our security blankets so that He can bless us and answer our prayers in His own due time.
I have full faith and trust that our Heavenly Father knows what’s best for us and that he really does guide us when we sincerely seek His help, but He does not make the hard choices for us. That would be a violation of our agency and He will never do that. He wants us to learn how to make good choices for ourselves and to act in faith. Faith always precedes the miracles in our lives. I testify that this is a true and eternal principle. It worked for my father. It has worked for me, and I have faith that it will work for you.
Fast forward to 1998 in San Diego, California for a personal experience with this same eternal
principle. At this point in our lives, my wife and I had seven children ranging in age from 5 to 22 years old. We had been living in San Diego for eight years and loved it. Then very suddenly without warning, I lost my job with Creative Learning Systems, which forced us to make an unanticipated move. We had been renting that whole time we lived there because homes in southern California were very expensive. But after losing that job we ended up moving to Mesa, Arizona where we were miraculously able to buy a home. God’s tender mercy showed us that there was a silver lining in that California storm cloud.
We only lived in Mesa for two years, but the purchase of our Arizona home and the equity that we gained in the sale of that house helped us buy our home in Loveland, Colorado in July of 2000. If we had not lost that job in California, where would we be economically today? It turned out to be a huge blessing, but it didn’t come to us in the way we were expecting.
As you can see, my experience has shown me that when we pray for guidance our Heavenly Father tries to answer our prayers, but sometimes the answers are different than we expect. Looking back over my life, I am able to see how the hand of the Lord was guiding my father and me in a path that was best for us even though it looked bleak at the time we lost our jobs. God answered our prayers by steering us in a different direction when we needed it most.
Chances are pretty good that you have had similar ups and downs in your life. If you happen to be in one of those down periods, where the outcome looks bleak and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I encourage you to hold on to your faith and trust in a loving Heavenly Father who might be steering you in a new direction. Exercise all the faith you can muster and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows you and loves you and He will not fail you.
I look forward to hearing from you as you share your stories where the hand of God was steering you in a better direction in the comments below. Have a blessed day!