You may remember the old country song “Take This Job and Shove It.” Here’s another option: Take your job and shovel it under the providential and strange plan that God is working out in your life.
What is your current assignment in life?
Are you pleased with it? Do you hate it? Or do you feel that you’re just drifting right now, without any assignment that you can discern? Some assignments are welcomed and some are unwanted.
But they are all from the Lord.
Psalm 37:23 is very clear: “The steps of a man are established by the Lord.” God is in control of your journey and of your destination…right now. And He is in control over the assignments of life.
It is God Himself who assigns us to our posts. When God gives you such an assignment, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be there forever. It could all change in a year or in a month or in a week. It could change tomorrow.
But you’re there for now.
You may be bored, you may be overqualified, you may be unchallenged, you may sense you are unwanted, and you may feel like a fish out of water. But that doesn’t mean that the assignment is a waster. The Lord doesn’t waste our lives. He knows precisely what He is doing when He give us our assignments.
So, let’s say you’re in an assignment right now that’s not to your liking. You’re not sure how you got there, and you certainly don’t want to stay there. But don’t become so upset or discouraged that you miss one very important fact: Most likely, that assignment you’re in isn’t final. But it is somehow preparing you for the work God has for you to do.
In God’s plan, there are no wasted assignments.
In God’s plan, every assignment is preparation.
A Dead-end Assignment
Let’s face it, sometimes in life, we hit a dead end. We think we’re following a star and we end up in a ditch … or in a slum … or in a blind alley. There are dead-end places and there are dead-end jobs. The problem with a dead-end place is that there is no way out. That’s exactly where Joseph was – he was a slave and he would always be a slave. Slaves don’t have a lot of options. As a matter of fact, they don’t have any.
Perhaps you are in a dead-end place or in a dead-end assignment.
So how did you get there?
Ultimately, the Lord put you there. And He has put you there for a reason. What reason? you ask. For now, the answer to that question is hidden from you. It’s a secret known only to the Lord (Deut. 29:29)
People in dead-end places or in dead-end assignments tend to think they will be there forever. But you won’t. In fact, God has you in a place of preparation and those dead-end places are very critical to what God plans to ultimately do in your life. God uses dead-end assignments to get you ready for what He has planned for you in the future. But so often in those dark, discouraging places, we think we have no future.
No Dead End Is Permanent
Every dead-end place and dead-end assignment has a beginning, a middle, and an end. God has set borders around your dead-end place. He has lessons for you to learn in the dead-end place that can be learned nowhere else. Your dead-end place will probably have a midterm and a final, along with a number of quizzes along the way. God has set the dates of the semester. It has a beginning and it has an end. But you have no idea what those dates are.
The longer you are in a dead-end place, the more convinced you become that you will always be there. You begin to think there’s no way out. But at the right time, there will be.
I have a friend who oversees the editorial and biblical content of numerous Christian books that are published each year – books published in many languages and distributed all over the world. Overseeing a large contingent of authors, he makes critical decisions about content and doctrine. It’s his job to make sure that truth is kept in balance. His position is a critical one that affects the lives of potentially millions of people.
He was a top student in seminary, taking his course work very seriously. Graduating with honors, he fully expected God to enrich his ministry. But after pasturing a church for just a few years, he was asked to leave. Devastated, my friend began to look for another ministry position. But no matter how diligently he searched, there was nothing. For three years the only job he could get was delivering newspapers.
That was it.
Every morning he would be up at four, throwing newspapers. It was a dead-end job in a dead-end place. At times he thought he would be there forever. He thought God had passed him by.
When my friend was throwing papers, he felt like a failure. But the Lord was with him, and he was on his way to becoming a successful man.
When you find yourself in a dead-end assignment, you are not alone. It may feel like you’re alone, but you’re not. Joseph was a slave in a foreign nation with a foreign culture and a foreign language. He didn’t know a soul, and he was completely cut off from friends and family. But the Bible makes it clear that he wasn’t alone. Genesis 39:2 declares a significant truth: The Lord was with Joseph.
Steve Farrar is the author of many books, including the best-sellers Point Man, Finishing Strong, and Battle Ready: Be Strong and of Good Courage in These Troubled Times.