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Every time I took a job, I thought it would be forever, or at least until retirement. I thought I could coast into eternity doing the work I loved. For 27 years, I worked in one institution in a few different roles, but I still went to the same place every day, found a parking spot in the same overcrowded lot and operated under the same protocols and procedures. I counted on that routine-and I also counted on the paycheck that went along with it.

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I worked in an inner-city hospital that needed my skills as a nurse to serve the poor and homeless. At the end of each day, I felt good about myself and what I had been able to accomplish on behalf of my patients and others I served. I counted on those feelings. Looking back, however, I realized I was enjoying the comfort and predictability a little too much.


Maybe that's why God decided to move me out of my comfort zone after all that time. The move did not come without feelings of agitation and remorse, as you can well imagine. At first I balked at the thought of leaving, not believing this was a message from the Holy Spirit. Then I argued with God about it. Finally, I begain to bargain with him over it. Why move me at all? How could I walk away from all those needs, and toward what?


As time went on, I began to realize how disillusioned I had become with my job. I'd begun to focus on the paycheck, not the service I was rendering to needy people. I remember walking through one of the busiest and most harried sections of the hospital. Suddenly all those feelings I had buried for so long came bubbling to the surface, and I could no longer ignore them. I'd become a nurse who simply went through the motions mechanically, working for a paycheck. I had to face the fact I wasn't the nurse God had called me to be.


As I pondered this realization, I discovered a huge and horrible insight about myself. I had more faith in the one who signed the paychecks than I did in the Lord Jesus Christ. I wanted to say, "No!! I'm a Christian, I'm not like that at all. Lord, I trust you completely to provide for my every need and desire. I've always trusted you!!"


But had I really? And did I now?


I came to the conclusion that for God to change me, I needed to walk away from the comfort and predictability, the benefits and financial remuneration of my job, albeit not without remorse, tears and mourning. I submitted my resignation effective on National Nurses' Day, which I thought was ironic as I watched people bustle about celebrating the day. I thought to myself, who will I be if I'm not Norma Singer, RN, staff nurse at inner-city hospital, serving the poor and underserved. Where am I going?


I felt God telling me not to work as a nurse for a season. It wasn't easy. I missed the kudos, not to mention the money. But I learned to surrender my life to God. I learned about faith and depending on God to take care of my needs, and even to supply things I didn't need but wanted. I learned to be still, to listen to God. I discovered that what he wanted me to do in the past may not be what he wants me to do now or in the future. By making this change, I did some things I'd always wanted to do, including going back to school and earning a degree.


My journey lasted nine years. Now I am back working as a nurse in an inner-city clinic. I'd do it all again-listen to God's call and act on it-because God transformed me into a different person and nurse. I needed the transformation.


Looking back, I realized that I had been coasting. I had coasted for far too long because it was comfortable and easier and less threatening than growing and stretching. As Christian nurses, we have to keep moving, growing and maturing-spiritually, personally and professionally. We are not meant to coast. Coasting is a lot like running in place. It has no real power or energy behind it and no direction because no one really is going anywhere.