Listening for God’s Voice

by Linda L. Kruschke

God had healed my depression, but deeply ingrained anxiety and negative notions of self didn’t disappear overnight. I still had a lot to learn about listening to God and walking by faith.

When my women’s Bible study group restarted in the fall, the study of Ezra and Nehemiah challenged me. I left many study questions unanswered, but those I did answer revealed how God had used His Word and the prayers of these women to set me on the right path. The first question in the study guide asked, “Think of a time when you obeyed God’s call to do something. What blessings did you experience as a result of your obedience?” I wrote, “Forgive those who have injured me. The blessing was peace.”

After months of sitting near the door, ready to make my escape, I relinquished this safe territory. I picked a seat on the far side of the long conference table near the window. The glorious daylight caused dappled sunspots to dance on the table.

I now understood—after many years of thinking if anyone really knew me, they’d never like me—God knew everything about me. Soaking in the warmth of the sun, I pondered His great knowledge of everything I’d ever done or thought, all my motives, all my sins. And He loved me anyway. He loved me enough to die an excruciating death on the cross just for me. I realized He calls me His beloved daughter.

In the early weeks of this study, I answered factual questions, but skipped the application questions. In the introduction, readers were admonished to pray before studying God’s Word, to ask the Holy Spirit to aid understanding. But I had little experience with praying, and wasn’t attuned to hear the Holy Spirit… or so I thought.

I began to relate to the themes in Ezra and Nehemiah. As Israel returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, they faced great obstacles to rebuilding the temple and walls. They had to walk by faith that God was in control.

Though I was no longer in despair, there remained much rebuilding to be done. I had to learn to walk by faith as well. But God, I have learned, is a God of order. He builds one brick at a time. He knew my self-esteem had been demolished by my career failures. I needed to prove to myself I could work. I had to believe my brain was not irretrievably broken. This yearning framed my next big prayer request for my Bible study friends. God had answered my repeated prayer to heal my depression. Surely, He could find me a job.

As with most prayers, God may answer yes, but we have to be willing to do our part. God was willing to bring Israel out of exile and restore the temple, but they had to do the hard work of construction. They had to stand up to opposition and critics.

My biggest critic was still me. Though the darkest cloud had lifted, doubts about my abilities remained. I continued to do contract work for other attorneys, but the sporadic nature of the work took a toll on me. I needed something stable and permanent.

One cold, rainy November day, I ventured to the law school job placement office to see what new positions had been posted. Many of the postings were not a good fit. One small firm sought a family law associate with five years of experience, which I didn’t have. Another small firm wanted someone with tax experience. I didn’t have that either. A couple of larger firms advertised first-year associate positions, but thoughts of the big firm atmosphere and high billable hour requirements almost gave me a panic attack.

Then my eye fell upon an interesting opportunity: A small publishing company had three openings for law clerks to conduct research and writing in the area of business valuation law. It only offered ten hours per week, some steady income would be welcome.

I copied the posting and then pulled my scarf around me, zipped up my winter coat, and braved the cold drizzle outside. Back at my cramped home office, I read over the job posting. Could I possibly be more overqualified for this job? They wanted law students, and I’d technically been a lawyer for seven years. Not that I’d done a lot of actual lawyering since graduation, but I was no law student or even a recent grad.

Then I noticed the posting date. They’ve probably already filled it, I thought. What’s the point of even applying? I imagined the disappointment of another rejection. Old doubts flooded back, swirling in my mind. It didn’t matter that my friends were praying for me to find a job. No amount of intercession would bring me success. My sporadic work history would overshadow my J.D. cum laude. My academic success would never translate to a full-time legal job. I probably can’t even land this entry-level position.

It amazes me how that old record kept going round and round, threatening to hinder my walk of faith.

Poised with the useless scrap of paper dangling over the trash can, I heard a voice as clear as day: “Just send in the resume.” Whether the voice was audible or only in my head, I can’t say. I only know it was real, it was authoritative, and it wasn’t mine. I glanced around to see if there was anyone there. There wasn’t, of course, but the command gave a mandate I couldn’t safely ignore.

I edited a prior cover letter and printed it along with my current resume. I decided I’d better mail it immediately. Bundling back up in my winter gear, I headed out the door. I made it to the Post Office just before the next pick up at 3:30 p.m. It would be on its way to Business Valuation Resources that very afternoon.

Two days later, I got a call, “This is Ethan from BVR. We received your resume and would like to schedule an interview. I was hoping you could come in this afternoon.”

“Yes, of course,” I said.

I changed into my nicest suit, put on make-up, and gathered copies of my resume, a writing sample, and a list of references. Business Valuation Resources was easy to find. The first-floor office in the two-story building wasn’t a law firm fancy, but it was bright and cheery. The receptionist greeted me with a smile and told me to have a seat.

The fresh-faced kid who came out to greet me was not what I expected. He was at least ten years younger than me. How had he gotten to a position of hiring people? He shook my hand, “Hi, I’m Ethan.”

Ethan’s office was modest with papers stacked everywhere, including on the floor. He cleared his desk so he could see me and offered me a seat. I recognized my envelope and cover letter lying in the middle of the mayhem.

“Thanks for coming on such short notice,” he said. “We were all quite impressed with your resume.”

I straightened up and beamed. We talked for forty-five minutes about the company. The owner, Shannon Pratt, was a business appraiser. He had started BVR with their flagship product, a monthly newsletter called Business Valuation Update. They had added other products, including a database of private business sale transactions called Pratt’s Stats. Ethan had a finance background and Pratt’s Stats was the primary product he worked on.

He must have seen the confusion on my face and shifted gears. He told me the American Bar Association had commissioned Shannon to write a book. He was hiring law clerks to conduct legal research for the chapters about valuing businesses for divorce and estate tax cases.

Or more accurately, they had hired law clerks—three of them. They didn’t need a fourth. Now I was really confused. We concluded the interview, and I left. What a waste of time. Bravo for that insistent voice. It was clearly wrong.

The next morning, Ethan called.

“Can you come in next Tuesday to meet with Shannon Pratt, the owner?”

He didn’t say what about, just that Shannon wanted to meet me.

I agreed to come, though I was skeptical. The urgency of that voice—just send in the resume—echoed in my head. At least Tuesday was Bible study day and I could ask for more prayer.

For some reason, I didn’t dress up for this interview. I think I might even have worn jeans. That’s how unconvinced I was that anything would come of it, no matter how I prayed. I was fairly new to the concept of walking by faith in God’s answers to prayer.

Ethan came out to greet me again and thanked me for coming. I followed him, wondering what to expect from Shannon.

Ethan offered me a chair across the desk from an old white-haired cherub of a man with snowy caterpillar eyebrows. On his desk, pictures of what I assumed were his wife and kids smiled back at him, and on the wall hung a myriad of certificates.

Shannon rose and shook my hand. His broad smile and twinkling eyes set me at ease.

“Have a seat,” he beamed. 

We talked for almost three hours about my background, my interests, and my family. Shannon told me more about the company and his career as a business appraiser. I still didn’t know what I was being interviewed for.

Finally, Shannon concluded, “Well, we can offer you a couple of things. We could have you work for us on a contract basis preparing reports on business valuation cases to sell on our website. Or, we could offer you a full-time job as managing editor of our new newsletter, Judges and Lawyers Business Valuation Update.”

There had been no prior mentioned of this newsletter. Apparently, the company had already sold subscriptions, and the inaugural issue was due out in January. It was November 28, and they hadn’t advertised the position. Shannon’s plan, before they received my resume, was for Ethan to be the managing editor on top of his usual work load. Ethan had no legal training to qualify him for this added responsibility. His interest in me became abundantly clear—I could save him from getting in way over his head. God’s plan became more clear as well.

I knew immediately I wanted the full-time job. I needed to prove to myself and to the world that I could handle it. I told Shannon I was interested in being managing editor, but wanted to know how many hours a week it would be and what the job entailed.

“How many hours do you want to work? Thirty? Thirty-five? Forty?”

“Well,” I replied, “I’d like to work thirty-five hours so I can continue attending my Tuesday morning Bible study.”

“The job’s yours if you want it, at thirty-five hours per week.”

Then he quoted me an annual salary that exceeded what I made in the prior five years combined, and as much or more than I made as an associate attorney.

I started the following Monday. I had one month to pull together the inaugural issue of a brand-new newsletter. It was the beginning of a long career in legal publishing. It seemed a perfect fit—an answer to prayer. Obedience and trust had paid off.

After that, walking by faith into whatever God had in store became much easier.


Linda L. Kruschke writes candid memoir and fearless poetry, and delves into hard issues others tend to avoid. She aspires to show women that God’s redemption and healing are just a story away. She blogs at AnotherFearlessYear.net, AnchoredVoices.com, and BrokenBelievers.com, and has been published in Fathom Magazine, The Christian Journal, Bible Advocate, iBelieve.com, WeToo.org blog, The Mighty, Calla Press literary journal, the Life, Repurposed compilation, and several anthologies. She is editor of Swallow’s Nest poetry journal of Oregon Christian Writers.

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