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When God Redefines Your Yes

When God Redefines Your Yes


You’re walking down the path God has clearly laid out for you, or so you thought. Then, out of nowhere, the door smacks you in the face as it’s closing. This is a crucial moment in your life. You can continue to force the situation that God is clearly bringing to an end. The other route is to figure out why the door has closed and, since God is a loving God, ask Him what new door He’s opening. It’s in this seeking that we may find something we never expected—something better than those small dreams we once grasped so tightly.

March 2018—Ready or not, here I come!
With the for-sale sign in the front yard, I said goodbye to my home and most of my belongings. What I had left were three footlockers that would travel with me to my new home, a closed country in South Asia. I was thankful for the friends who offered their homes and their hearts to me as I awaited my departure to South Asia. With all of the goodbyes taking place, my heart and my spirit were ready.

a photo of me with friends from South Asia

The final to-do before flying was to finalize my travel visa. To my surprise, I soon discovered the visa I intended on using was no longer sufficient, so I looked for other options. Even with this unexpected news, I was still on schedule for departure in May. The time I had been working and praying toward these past five years was drawing near. I knew I would figure out this visa situation and I would be on my way.

May 2018—I’m not supposed to be here!
Plan A morphed into Plan B, then into Plan C and Plan D as I discovered my first three visa plans were not possible. I felt the weight of finances and expectations as I sat idly stateside. I had left my secure job in January, moved out of my home in April (which was still for sale), and was living out of my footlockers while house-sitting, not knowing where I would go after each house-sitting placement ended. My car became the most stable and sure thing I had.

Plan D was nothing I had imagined, but it was possible and still fell within my ministry interests. It would be a rush to get everything submitted in time. Before sending my documents to their respective agencies in South Asia, I read and reread and reread to be certain I completed everything correctly. After submitting all required documents, I breathed a sigh of relief. It was Memorial Day weekend, and I intended on enjoying the break.

a photo of apartment buildings

Memorial Day arrived, and just for the fun of it, I decided to read through the agency’s fine print again.

My heart sank.

Before I could stop it from happening, my eyes filled with tears. I missed an absolute requirement in the fine print. I became paralyzed with disbelief.

Being Memorial Day, I was unable to immediately contact anyone who could offer guidance. Sitting in my car, processing the implications of this oversight, a voice crept in—If you really wanted to go to South Asia, you would have never missed that detail in the fine print. What will you tell people now that there is another delay because of your negligence? Overcome with guilt, I was finally able to get ahold of my regional director, Joy Phillips.

“Maybe God did not allow you to see that fine print. Maybe this isn’t the way to go,” Joy said. Something in her words brought comfort and peace I was able to cling to. Those words became louder than that whisper saying it was my fault.

photo of a South Asian woman walking away

June 2018—Discerning His voice.
With the help of friends in South Asia, I was relieved to hear that the administration was willing to work with me in resolving the visa issue from May. I was to receive a phone call from the South Asian administrator to discuss the situation. With a nine-hour time difference, the phone call would take place during the middle of the night for me. I made certain my phone volume was turned up just in case I fell asleep. I woke in the night to the sound of a text message informing me the phone call would come soon and to be ready.

The next thing I remember, the room was filled with light; it was six in the morning! I panicked and discovered I had one missed call at 2 a.m. I didn’t hear the phone call. Somehow my phone was on silent. I could not explain how the sound had been turned off, having ensured it was on the night before and having heard the text message earlier that night.

That voice crept in again—If you really felt called to go to South Asia, you would have stayed awake all night. What will you tell people now? How will you explain that you slept through the phone call? The voice spoke shame, guilt, and condemnation. This time, though, I recognized the voice was not the voice of my Father.

Later that week, I spoke with Joy Phillips again. She asked me, “Would you consider Japan or Cambodia, where we have other established fields?”

I hesitated, then said, “It’s not that I’m closed to those areas, but I don’t feel released yet from [this specific country in South Asia].”

“Then we will continue praying that the Lord will open those doors,” Joy reassured me.

photo of a picturesque Albanian town

July 2018—Peace beyond understanding.
With little progress on my visa, I’d spent the summer in the tension of hope and the gradual onset of grief at the possible loss of fulfilling this calling to South Asia that began five years earlier.

Then came a call from Joy. “How would you feel about joining me in Albania?” This question struck me and left me wondering if I was trying to force open a door that God was trying to close. I felt light and peace after leaving that conversation. The next morning, I texted my sister, “I don’t know if I’m moving to South Asia or Albania, but I finally have peace I haven’t experienced in a long time.” And with that, He gave me my release from South Asia.

Two weeks later I flew to Albania, sight unseen. While walking through this new door God was opening, He gave me the opportunity to travel first to South Asia and the chance to say, “See you again someday,” to the close friends I made over the past several years and whom I had planned to work among.

a photo of me in Albania with new friends

June 2019—This was not the YES I gave you.
I had every intention of returning to South Asia long-term. What I never anticipated was the peace that God gave me as I left South Asia just before flying to Albania. A temporary plan and placement morphed into a position of peace, one that looks very different from my original yes. Each day in Albania has echoed the same thought, “This is not what I said yes to, but I can’t imagine not being here.” So here I stay, remaining and working in ministry with the peace He has granted.

I don’t know what the future holds, and I hesitate to voice any ideas after the last year. Maybe the prayer is not, “Lord, where are you calling me?” but instead, “Lord, may I follow after your peace with obedience.” I trust that His story is greater than I can understand from my five-foot, seven-inch perspective. And I rest in thanking Him for this unplanned yes to Albania.

Tiffany Janofski serves as a global worker in Albania. She is involved in Kids' Ministry Club, Bible studies, discipleship, and relationship-building—seeking God’s purpose and His truth.


PRAY: As you reflect on Tiffany’s story and how God has guided her path, consider where God might be challenging you. Has He closed a door that you had your heart set on? Ask God for boldness to walk through newly-opened doors and peace to accept His closing of doors.

JOIN: Tiffany’s arrival to Albania was an answer to prayers by leadership on her new field following their commitment to the Luke 10:2 Challenge. You can join this challenge every day at 10:02 by praying from Luke 10:2 (NIV), “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

The Call (Fall/Winter 2019)

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