In September I wrote about a little thing called the VRI within IMB. In an effort to reduce costs, our leadership offered a voluntary retirement incentive to those 50 years of age or older with five years’ experience.
I was qualified. After praying through it and talking with my husband, I declined the incentive.
Two weeks ago, leadership announced a decision to close the Richmond communications center of which I am a part. Thirty of us – writers, editors, photographers, videographers and graphic designers – will be terminated when the center closes in late April. It was quite a shock. Like being plunged into an icy cold river with no life vest, the announcement took my breath away.
For several days, I said things to myself like:
- “If only I’d stayed in Asia …”
- “If only I’d taken the VRI …”
- “If I hadn’t transferred to home office staff …”
Certainly in each of those “if only” scenarios, the effect of last week’s decision would have been significantly different for me personally. However, as my emotions stabilize and God begins to give me perspective, I recognize that God has directed each of the steps we’ve taken the past few years — to move from Thailand to Richmond, to transfer to staff, to decline the VRI.
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9, HCSB).
God led me to this place, and He will lead me to the next phase of service, however that looks.
I’m going to be better than OK!
As I move beyond the initial shock, anger and sadness, several more positive emotions are rising to the surface:
I am so thankful I had the opportunity to serve with IMB for 17 years — 13 years as a missionary in media roles in the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand, and four years as a missionary and then staff on the global communications team in Richmond.
The opportunity to do work I love with people I love for a cause I love is indeed a rarity. For 17 years, I was privileged to live and work a dream to be a writer and a missionary — one God planted in my heart when I was 7 years old. How many people can say that?
As I enter the job market, I realize that confidence is a key to success. Confidence will help me put my best self forward in every situation. Confidence will give me “the edge” I need. But while self-confidence is an important characteristic to cultivate, God-confidence is even more important.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7, ESV).
I have every confidence in the future – not because of my skills, experience or abilities (which are many and varied! ) – but because God is directing my steps.
While I make plans to pursue this or that or the other thing, I am aware that God may bring opportunities into my line of vision that I might never have considered. To resist those opportunities just because they are not in “my plan” is foolish. I know without a doubt God will lead me to the place He wants me, and I’m excited to watch His plan unfold.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” Paul wrote (Philippians 4:7). I’m learning that the peace of God is a direct byproduct of confidence in God. When I am able to say like Job, “Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15, HCSB), then I feel the peace of God wash over me – not in the icy cold river kind of way but in the cleansing warm shower kind of way.
God is good, and He has a good plan. And He is teaching me moment by moment to “travel light and wear comfortable shoes” — a tag I’ve used since moving overseas 17 years ago — always ready and able to go where He leads.