There is a stirring, a restlessness, an unsettling feeling that builds up within me just before God leads me in a new direction.
That was certainly true right before I had The Dream. Or rather, a literal nightmare.
I was on a tour bus filled with reporters and dignitaries set out on a tour of a new housing area in Sacramento. The city fathers were impressed with how they had replaced a blighted area with beautiful, new homes.
However, as we came down off the interstate into the housing area, there was an awful scene. The brand-new houses were on fire—but even worse, there were children playing on the porches, waving from the windows, dancing on the rooftops. And they were seemingly unaware that they could die from the fire.
I looked around me on the bus for someone else to notice the problem, but the others were nodding and applauding as the bus driver’s commentary pointed out the highlights.
Suddenly I realized that I alone could see that the children would die if no one would stop to help them.
I ran to the front of the bus and screamed at the bus driver, “Stop the bus! I have to get off!”
And then I woke up, trembling—certainly from the horror of the dream but also from the realization that God was dramatically nudging me.
I knew right then that there was no way around it: he was calling me to teach.
For years I had joked that I would never do two things: teach or become a nurse. To this day I still never look when I’m getting a shot or my blood drawn. And teaching was my mom’s thing—not something I would ever do. Kids are messy. They have runny noses and untied shoes and way too many emotional problems for me to deal with.
Nonetheless, God called me to teach.
Within two months I started taking graduate classes to get a teacher’s credential and finished the program in less than a year. Last year I retired after 26 years—most of those teaching high school English to juniors and seniors.
For most of those kids I also had a direct influence in helping them choose their college or career, as I also became our small, rural school’s academic advisor. Recently, it was a personal thrill for me to work with many of them again as we together created 50 Life Lessons for Grads. The book was an opportunity for me to pause and realize that while I went into teaching with the idea that I could help them, I, too had been changed in the process. Along with the work sweat of grading countless essays and preparing lesson plans, I laughed and loved those young people so much!
But even after my teaching years now, I am much more easily nudged to do God’s work—he no longer needs to send me a nightmare to make me move. I’ll take a dinner to a sick friend or support a school in Nigeria or even just help my husband with a chore.
There still is much more selfishness in me for God to whittle away, but Tricia’s new book Walk It Out, which I devoured last week, reminded me again that God can work through me. I just need to stay in his Word, listen to his whispers, trust him for the details, and walk that path set before me.
More about 50 Life Lessons for Grads (coming soon!):
Who better than a recent graduate to help you navigate life after college? With encouragement and advice, fifty young women and men share what they learned the hard way so you can better prepare for the same challenges.
From “Money isn’t Everything” to “Real Friendships Take Effort,” these short, but insightful essays address the real struggles, opportunities, and fears that you might face as you finish your education and begin your independent adult life. Following each essay are five bulleted life lessons to encourage and equip you on your chosen path.
Pre-Order a copy here:
Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of 20 books, including the best-selling PrayerWalk and PrayerStreaming. Health, Family Circle, and many other publications have recognized her as the go-to teacher on devotional prayerwalking, and she walks out her faith in her small town and in The Bridge Church in Reno, where she serves on the board and as the director of the prayer ministries. She and her rancher Craig live in the Sierra Valley, where they raised their four children. She loves to speak and may be contacted at www.janetmchenry.com.
More about Walk it Out
What Happens When We Read God’s Word and Actually Do What it Says?
Bestselling Author Tricia Goyer demonstrates the powerful work God accomplishes if we are willing to step out in obedience to Biblical commands and His quiet urgings, no matter our fears or feelings of inadequacy.
Walk It Out illustrates the real-life results of listening to the Scriptural mandates such as care for the orphan, serve the poor, go into the world to spread the gospel, and love others of all races. The author’s journey, from accepting Christ’s forgiveness and telling her story of redemption to answering the call to adopt seven children when she least expected, is filled with the exhilarating, radical, unexpected life that we experience when we walk into God’s plans for us.
“I neither planned or expected any of this—from the ten kids to the stamped-up passport. I didn’t accomplish these things by making a list and checking it off. They happened as I took steps of faith to follow God’s directives.” ~Tricia Goyer