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Your Response Matters

My life is proof that God is faithful and able to do exceedingly and abundantly MORE than we could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). So let me take a minute, just sit right there. I’ll tell you how I became… (any Fresh Prince lovers out there? ;)

I could share so many stories of how God has shown me his faithfulness, but I’ve tried to narrow it down to two of the clearest examples of how important the “response” is in every situation. It comes down to trust - a response to choose to trust:

Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP says: “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].”

What this verse tells me is that we WILL have obstacles in our lives, but we have a choice every time on how we are going to respond to those obstacles. It says that if we trust in and rely confidently on the Lord, acknowledge Him, and have faith, then he will make a way through it.

I honestly don’t know where to begin with my story. I could list time after time where God has shown himself faithful, regardless of my response. However, in the last year I have been learning that my response in one moment determines the culture of the next.

When my husband, Kody, and I got married we decided pretty immediately that we wanted to have kids, so we started trying right away. We assumed it would be easy and just happen, but a year and a half (and a move to Oklahoma) later, we still hadn’t gotten pregnant. The move was a homecoming for my husband, but for me it was all new - a new home, a new job, and a new state. Not only was it a new state, but it was a small town, which was another new experience for me. I wasn’t happy about it, and since I was already struggling because we hadn’t gotten pregnant yet, the move only added to my frustration.

One weekend when I still hadn’t started my cycle, I decided to take yet another pregnancy test, assuming it would be negative. It was a Sunday afternoon. We had gone to church that morning, and Kody was outside doing something in the yard. I stared at the test and watched in disbelief as the second line appeared, showing I was pregnant.

No. Way.

I ran to the back door and screamed for Kody to come in the house. He was so confused as to why I was screaming like I was. I showed him the test, and we were both in disbelief but crazy excited! I knew this was God finally answering my desire to have a baby.

I scheduled my first OB appointment the next day. At that appointment we got to see our little nugget, and we got to see the heartbeat. Our excitement was off the charts.

A couple weeks went by, and we were supposed to go out of town for the weekend. However, Kody ended up having to work, so we had to stay home. I now know this was the hand of God directing our steps, because I was at home when I miscarried that weekend.

We were devastated.

I was angry.

We started trying to get pregnant again, but, just as before, nothing was happening. I would sing worship songs about what a good God we have, and I would think, “I know this is true in my head, but my heart doesn’t believe it.” I started to grow bitter - not just toward God, but toward my husband as well. I held everything that had happened against both of them. My struggle with Kody and with God was growing worse by the day. There I was in a tiny town I didn’t want to be in, once again unable to get pregnant, and still heartbroken over the loss of my baby.

It had been about a year of this, when I found myself in a Wednesday night church service just weeping because I wasn’t happy in any area of my life. This couldn’t be what life was meant to be like. I was frustrated, and I was miserable.

So I said to God, “Fine! Here take it! I’m tired of being bitter and angry!” I lifted my arms, as if to hand Him all of it. My eyes were closed, and I saw a vision of me handing this crusty, ugly rock over (kind of more like throwing it because... #angry). When I did, I saw this chipping away start to happen. Suddenly, the layers of dirt and sediment were gone, and a treasure was revealed. This pearly white gift was given back to me in return for my mess. That gift was hope.

Everything changed in that moment.

I started to respond with hope instead of anger when I didn’t understand why things were happening. Instead of staying in a place of anger, I started to thank God in advance for the children I would have - for the promises He made that I couldn’t see just yet. That night, I determined to get over my fear and see a new OBGYN to explore possible health issues that might be making getting pregnant difficult. Little did I know that in only 4 months I’d be pregnant again - this time with twins. And 13 months after that I got pregnant yet again.

Exceedingly, abundantly more than we can ask or imagine.

Fast forward to 2019. I had been feeling for quite a while that I was ready to leave my office job, where I had worked as a graphic designer since moving to Oklahoma. Things had been growing increasingly tense at the office, and I had been thankful to have maternity leave because I desperately needed a break. I returned from maternity leave in January of 2019, determined to let any and all office politics roll off my shoulders and leave it all at work. But in the months that followed, something inside of me grew restless. I wondered if it was God prompting me to move on, or if it was my own agitation with things at work.

I also have a photography business, so over the course of the summer I jotted down a bunch of ideas to grow my photography business. I thought if I could just grow that into a consistent business, then I’d be able to leave my office job. However, every time I’d start to consider going out on my own, I’d get cold feet and talk myself out of it.

At the end of the summer everything came to a head when my boss let me know they would be changing my schedule. I’d be switching from four 10 hour days, with Fridays off, to five 8 hour days. I wanted to quit on the spot, but I stayed calm. In fact, I felt like I really shouldn’t even argue about it.

But it was a big deal. Fridays were the days I devoted to my freelance work. I scheduled client meetings, did work for APM, did photography, took kids to doctor’s appointments, etc. I scheduled these things on Fridays so they wouldn’t interfere with my regular work schedule. On top of that, I already had weddings scheduled for Fridays coming up, so I had to take a week’s worth of vacation time to cover the Fridays I already had booked.

Again, I wanted to quit immediately, but in that moment I felt like I needed to just say “ok.”

So I did.

My response was different this time. I intentionally gave the situation to God, sometimes multiple times per day, and peace and patience took the place where there would have been panic and bitterness.

My husband and I started talking a little bit more seriously about what it would take for me to be able to leave my job. Kody is the kind of guy that supports pretty much anything I want to do. I say I want to sell makeup on a whim, and he says “Ok, babe!” I say I want to buy a t-shirt press because I want to start a tshirt business, and he says “Ok, babe!” I say I need a sublimation printer and setup so I can start a mug business, and he says “Ok, babe!” Like, seriously, ya’ll. Anything I have an idea to do, he supports me 100%, no matter how many times my ideas fizzle and we end up with random equipment sitting around the house.

Me leaving my job was a big deal though. We relied on my income. I carried our family health insurance. The idea of leaving was scaring me like crazy!

The APM team went to a conference in September, and I was still really struggling with what to do about my job. I had all these business ideas, but I didn’t know how to get from where I was to where I wanted to be. At the conference, there was a theme of submission. They talked about planting yourself in order to grow. I felt the Lord ask me if I would submit myself to him, even if he asked me to stay at a job I didn’t want anymore.

And my response was “yes.”

You see, I know God is faithful to his promises - even if the journey to get there isn’t the way I would have chosen.

Leaving that conference, God told me this: my next full time job was going to be for APM. But he didn’t tell me when that would be. So I was determined that if God was calling me to stay in my current job for the time being, I would do it with a good attitude. I would grow where I was planted, even if it wasn’t where I wanted to be planted.

Another month passed, and I was at another conference when God told me it was time to leave my job and trust that he had it figured out. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t have heard that right...right? I was raised in a home where you don’t leave a job without another one lined up. When I got home from the conference, I talked to my husband and shared all the things I had learned and what I felt God had told me. He didn’t even hesitate, and agreed that it was time for me to leave.

The next morning I asked God that if this was really what I was supposed to do, to confirm it. I was scared. What if I put our family in a bad position financially? What if my photography business fails? What if I can’t find another job when that happens?

It was a Sunday morning, and we were late to church. When we came in, our worship leader was sharing about God’s faithfulness as she led into the song “Do It Again.” She let us all know we wouldn’t be singing the word “yet” at the end of the line “you’ve never failed me yet” because there isn’t a question of if God is going to fail us. He never has. He never will.

I was in tears as God started to remind me of all the ways he’d shown himself faithful to me - from the big things, like my THREE beautiful children, to the little things, like the trash compactor in my kitchen (that was basically free). He has never failed me, and I knew he was showing me that he wouldn’t fail me in this either.

Later in the service, as my pastor was teaching and Proverbs 3:5-6 came on the screen, God asked me a question: “So are you going to trust ME or your own understanding?”

I gave my notice the next morning.

I wrote this later that day:

As I sit here thinking about the fact that I just gave my notice, but I don’t technically have another “solid” salary waiting for me after this - it makes me a little weak in the knees. This doesn’t make sense. I feel like a baby deer trying to walk for the first time - but I guess that’s kind of the picture of what’s happening right now, right? I’m starting to walk with brand new “faith” legs.

God is faithful to do exceedingly abundantly MORE than we could ever think or ask. The day I gave my notice I booked 3 photo sessions. I continued to have the busiest season I’ve ever had for my photography. I was also offered a contract position with my job where I’d continue to do the parts of my job I really loved but get to do them from home. And I was available to create the many things needed for APM as we walk into a new season of ministry.

So what obstacles are you facing as you read this? Are you frustrated with your situation? Are you angry because your prayers haven’t been answered? Are you asking why this happened the way it did? Are you afraid that he’s forgotten about the promises he made to you?

Right now, no matter what it is that you’re facing, you have a choice to respond. That response is going to lead you into your next season. Your response is your testimony and it tells people who you are. So, what does your response say about the kind of friend, sister, mother, wife - fill in the blank - that you are? Are you responding by putting your trust in God? Does your response illustrate that you are “relying confidently” on Him - even though you can’t see what is on the other side of this leap he is asking you to take?

Now, I’m not necessarily telling you to go quit your job, but whatever it is that God is asking of you, determine in your heart (and I say this as someone right in the middle of doing the same thing, but believing that my God has been and always will be faithful) that no matter what the outcome, you will respond by trusting God. I promise you, he is faithful to do exceedingly abundantly MORE than you could ever imagine.

© 2018 Annie Perkins Ministries, Inc.