I think all of us at one time or another wish we could go back and “fix” something, or be able to recapture a “missed opportunity.” Of course, if we could it no doubt would have had an effect on our future which might have sent us off in a different direction from where we are at at this point in time. That could be good or bad, depending on how you feel about where you are at right now.
Three years ago on August 13th I flew from Florida to Houston to interview for the job that has now left me unemployed for two years and four months. I accepted that job with great excitement and never felt as much in the center of God’s will for my life as I did at the moment I was offered that position. The division I worked in at the university where I was employed for over four years in Florida had been dismantled in January 2008, and I found myself professionally adrift though not unemployed as they placed me in another area at the university. But I knew when that happened that it was time for me to move on, and I spotted the ad for the director position in Houston in May 2008. When I was offered the job in August 2008, I couldn’t have been more excited about any job I’ve accepted in the past twenty years.
I drove to Houston with all of my worldly goods following in a truck and landed there on September 25, 2008, less than two weeks after Hurricane Ike has wrecked havoc on the city. There were still power outages all across Houston, but the apartment complex where I would be living as well as the place where I began working on September 29th had power.
I have a rather outgoing personality and that mixed with my excitement at being in a very creative environment and a new job in a new city and state for me overshadowed the fact that my new supervisor appeared to be less than happy that I had arrived. And by the end of my first week there, I definitely felt I had stepped into the middle of something that didn’t feel right at all. However, I remained optimistic for several weeks, in fact, through November, hoping that my work ethic as well as my love for working with the students and my ability to catch on to new environments and systems would warm the apparent ice in his veins.
At least I hung in there for almost seven months after he had ignored me for the better part of the last month I was there before he fired me. To this day I don’t understand all that happened, nor did I ever understand why my supervisor never wanted me there in the first place. Unfortunately, I was suddenly left unemployed in a new city and a new state where I had not even had any time to develop any kind of network. The lease on my apartment was for one year so I still had five months left on it, and I was hoping to find another job before that five months was up. Two years and four months later I’m still looking.
I lost most of my possessions—all of my furniture, over 600 books, and a lot of other possessions–when I left Houston at the end of my apartment lease as I couldn’t afford to move them back to Florida, where a friend had offered her spare bedroom to me. I left Houston on September 25, 2009, exactly one year to the day from when I had arrived in 2008. I stayed in my friend’s home for three months until I found a cute little furnished seasonal rental in December 2009 to rent while I continued my job search. I remember when I rented the seasonal rental I told the manager that I would only be staying a short time until I found a job and moved on. We both laugh now as I’ve been living in this “seasonal” rental for a year and nine months with still no job in sight.
So, if I could turn back the hands of time, especially in light of the situation I walked into at my new job in Houston and how it has left me unemployed for over two years and four months, would I not have accepted the job in the first place?
The vote is still out on that one…
Because I am a Christian, I believe with every fabric of my being that God is sovereign in everything that happens in this universe, in our world, and in our various circumstances. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter. He’s ultimately in control. Volumes have been written on the Sovereignty of God and if you want to find out more, just Google that topic. Here’s a link to a definition to get you started.
Dictionary.com defines sovereign as “(noun) a person who has sovereign power or authority; (adjective) having supreme rank, power, or authority; supreme; preeminent; indisputable; greatest in degree; utmost or extreme; being above all others in character, importance, excellence, etc.” If you are familiar with the Bible, you will recognize those attributes as describing God.
The Bible makes it clear who’s in charge: Psalm 103:19 states: “The LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 115:3 states: “But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases;” and Psalm 135:5-6 states: “For I know that the LORD is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places.”
A classic example in the Bible of the sovereignty of God in the life of one of His followers can be found in the Book of Job. It is a humbling book to read, and I’ve always said that if you really want to know just how big God is and how small we are, read Job Chapters 38-41 which is God’s response to Job and Job’s answer (Chapter 42) where part of his response is “Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (verse 6). However, God did not leave Job there in dust and ashes. Chapter 42 goes on to explain that after Job had endured his excruciating circumstances and came to understand who God really is by grasping God’s greatness, majesty, sovereignty, and independence, that God restored to Job twice as much as he had before the devastating circumstances started at the beginning of the Book of Job (and Job had great wealth and possessions and a very large family at the beginning of his turmoil in the Book of Job when he lost everything but his wife in a rapid series of horrible events).
As Dr. John MacArthur writes in his Introduction to the Book of Job, MacArthur Study Bible, NKJV, p. 693: “This book (Job) begins with a scene in heaven that explains everything to the reader (1:6-2:10). Job was suffering because God was contesting with Satan. Job never knew that, nor did any of his friends, so they all struggled to explain suffering from the perspective of their ignorance, until finally Job rested in nothing but faith in God’s goodness and the hope of His redemption. That God vindicated his trust is the culminating message of the book (of Job). When there are no rational or even theological explanations for disaster and pain, trust God.”
So, as we can see from this example in Job’s life, we cannot know all that might be involved “behind the scenes” when very bad circumstances come our way. It is far better to leave it in God’s hands for He is the only one who knows everything about our situations and circumstances. We need to, by faith, rest in His goodness and trust totally in the only One who loves us more than anyone else on this planet.
So, even though I am weary beyond words wondering when this trial of mine will end, I would rather trust in the sovereignty of God whom I love and serve than to be able to “turn back the hands of time” and stop the situation from happening in the first place. Only God can see all sides of any situation we find ourselves in. As I’ve reviewed the struggle of Job, I have found great hope for my continuing saga of unemployment. And I’m placing my hope totally in God.
Here’s one of my favorite songs of yesteryear by Tyrone Davis (1970). It has absolutely no relationship to my comments about Job or the Sovereignty of God, but I found it on YouTube and it is what originally inspired me to write this blog post. So, enjoy!!!
Photo credit here