One of the things I find most fascinating about the stories in the Bible is how God uses very ordinary people to do extraordinary things. You don’t have to look very far to see just how true this is. The stories of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, and two of my favorite stories about women in the Old Testament, Ruth and Esther, who both have books named after them, are but just a few. There’s also Rahab, Daniel, and Solomon, who was the wisest man who ever lived and also one of the richest–he wrote the books of Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon (also known as the Song of Songs) which is one of the greatest love stories in the Bible (I also love the story of Ruth and Boaz–another great love story). And, of course, all of the major and minor Prophets who came out of nowhere to declare God’s truth to the people of their generation (and ours also). The list goes on and on . . . .
Of course, there are also many in the New Testament–Elizabeth, Anna, Joseph and Mary, the Disciples, Paul, and of course, the One who was born in obscurity and became the most famous one of all, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who also called Himself the Son of Man, whom Isaiah in a previous generation foretold about in Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
All of these people came out of nowhere to proclaim God’s truth. Indeed, they represent the people described in I Cor. 1:26-31, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'” As you can see from the passage, “foolish”and “weak” are not detrimental terms in God’s economy–not by a long shot. Does God still choose people like this today? Absolutely! In the not-too-distant past and even now I can think of people like Abraham Lincoln (one of our greatest Presidents), Charles Spurgeon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie ten Boom, C.S. Lewis, and many others; and in our own generation, Billy Graham, whom God has used mightily for His purposes. So, can God use people like you and me for His purposes in our generation? ABSOLUTELY!!!
The title of this post is taken from Esther 4:14, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” A brief summary of the story of Esther can be found here–essentially, she was orphaned as a child, raised by Mordecai the Jew, and came from obscurity to become queen of Persia and Media, and saved her people, the Jews, from an evil plot by Haman to destroy them (hence, the reason for the words in Esther 4:14 above spoken by Mordecai to her).
The connection between the story of Esther from yesteryear and life as we know it today is clear. Esther was raised up to be the mouthpiece that saved her people from destruction in her generation, and we (those of us who know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior) can be the mouthpieces for our own generation to speak the truths from God’s Word to save a lost and dying generation in a world gone mad.
In Matthew 24, we find Jesus talking with His disciples about the signs of the end of the age. Some of the things he warns them about are false prophets, wars and rumors of wars, famines, and earthquakes, which are all beginning signs of the end times. He goes on to speak of a time where many will turn away from the faith and many false prophets will be on the scene to deceive multitudes; that wickedness will increase and the love of most will grow cold (verses 10-12). However, He continues that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (verse 14). So you see, we have a mission to our world and to our generation today and that is to see that the gospel is spread throughout the whole world. Only in our generation has this been made possible through the marvelous invention and advances in technology! However, that is not to say that we shouldn’t be sharing the great news of Jesus Christ with our neighbors, friends, and even our enemies. Our very lives should shine forth and be a witness as to what it means to follow Him.
Unfortunately, these past few decades have produced what I call the “silent generation” of Christians. We get so wrapped up in our culture–materialism, status, money, greed, power, self–that we have fallen asleep at the wheel when it comes to proclaiming the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And many times when we do talk to others, it’s about what Jesus can do for us and not about the greatest thing He has already done for us on the cross at Calvary. We want the blessings of Jesus without the sacrifice and that just doesn’t work. We are called to be “living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1): “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” When we take our eyes off of all the stuff we want and ourselves and seek Him, we will find Him waiting for us, and we will become effective witnesses for our generation.
The parable of the fig tree is also found in Matthew 24, specifically in Matt. 24:32-35: “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
What if we are that generation? We are clearly living in the signs of the end times as described in this chapter of Matthew. If we are, that should not give us cause to fear but rather is a clarion call to follow after Jesus Christ and not ourselves. It should be a time of great excitement and anticipation as we proclaim to others the good news of Jesus Christ. Indeed, we have been born into this current generation “for such a time as this.”
So, starting today, let’s go out and change our world with the gospel of Jesus Christ! With the culture crumbling all around us, it is the very best news there is, so go out there and share it! And, if you don’t know where to start, start here:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (Romans 12:1-2 MSG).
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I absolutely love the movie, “Finding Forrester” (2000) with Sean Connery and Rob Brown in the starring roles. The movie is about a friendship between William Forrester (Connery) and Jamal Wallace (Brown) and takes place primarily in the Bronx. Forrester, now in his 70’s, is a reclusive Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist who gave the world only one novel written back in his 20’s, and Jamal is a 16-year-old basketball player with a secret passion for writing. It is a wonderful story about an unexpected friendship that formed between them that changed both of their worlds. In fact, the story moved me so much (well, I’ve watched it at least a dozen times) that I decided to name this particular blog post from an article written by William Forrester in the movie with a subtitle of “A Season of Faith’s Perfection” (Jamal also wrote an essay for his prep school with the same title taken from Forrester’s article).
As I look back on the past three years in the midst of the greatest challenge I have ever had to navigate, I realized how much it has been my very own “Season of Faith’s Perfection.” I wrote about how this “season” began in a previous post, “Fuzzy Faith Fails.” Now I can give you more details about this continuing journey in faith.
During most of my year in Houston I attended a huge megachurch that I was familiar with from watching their weekly television program when I was still living and working at a private, Christian university in Florida. Over the years I had grown weary trying to find a church where I fit in as an older, single, professional woman, and found it very difficult to find a church where I fit in even though there were many in this town. During the four-plus years I lived and worked there I attended several churches; one for a year and a half, another for several months, and then I just sampled other churches until I stumbled upon the television program for the megachurch I attended in Houston.
This program was very upbeat and it brought me out of a rather dismal low point in my spiritual life at that time. I stopped attending other churches in the area and watched this program exclusively. In fact, I looked forward with great anticipation to their weekly broadcast. I even reached a point where I was telling my coworkers that if this church was located in the town we lived in, I’d be there in a heartbeat. That’s how much I loved watching it. It cheered me up during a very rough time at work when, eventually, my division was dismantled in January 2008. While my position was not abolished, I knew it was time for me to move on. As I’d been living in Florida since 1992, I had absolutely no desire to move out of the state, and I never dreamed about going anywhere else . . .
. . . except for Houston, where that megachurch was located. Now I didn’t look for jobs specifically in Houston, but I did go to HigherEdJobs.com on a daily basis looking for openings in my profession. And in early May 2008, I spotted the ad for the director position that I was eventually hired for and moved to Houston on September 25, 2008. That first weekend before I started my job I was too weary from the 1000-mile drive and unpacking my apartment to make it to the church service of the megachurch, located only four miles from my apartment complex, but I was there on the first Sunday in October and rarely ever missed a Sunday for the next nine months.
I had never been so excited about being a part of a church in my entire life. It was vibrant and people from all nationalities and walks of life were there; however, in a church that size, in order to meet people I knew I had to be involved in some way, which opened the door to two volunteer opportunities I ended up taking.
If you’ve read my previous post, “Fuzzy Faith Fails,” when I first landed in Houston I felt strongly that I needed to get up early every morning to have a devotional time to meet with the Lord and pray. I had not done this consistently for years, and while it seemed very odd to be doing it now, I did it regardless of how I felt and without fail. And due to the fact that my job (or rather my boss at the job) presented challenges from the very first week, I started to find a source of strength from my early morning devotions I hadn’t experienced in years.
I began to realize as I continued with my studies every morning before work that it was feeding me in a way that I wasn’t receiving from the megachurch, although I loved attending and considered it to be one of the highlights of my week. However, the one thing that bothered me about the megachurch was the total absence of talking about sin or confronting sin from the pulpit. The only time sin was mentioned was after the service when the pastor offered a “sinner’s prayer” for those attending the service who wanted to “accept Jesus as their Savior.” I always found this odd, not so much regarding the “sinner’s prayer” as many churches offer that at the end of their Sunday services; but it was odd because hardly ever during the sermon was Jesus mentioned and certainly not with any depth. The worship music before the sermon many times had music inspired and written from Scripture, but the sermons had pieces of Scripture that went with the particular story the pastor told in his sermon that morning. It bothered me that sin was never addressed since that is the whole reason Jesus Christ came to earth and died on the cross. It is no small matter (see Ezekiel 18 subtitled “The Soul Who Sins Will Die”).
As I continued studying early every morning throughout the ensuing horror of what unfolded at my job, I kept attending the megachurch as it “pumped me up” (as in an adrenalin rush, but not spiritually) to be able to face the next week at work. I attended this megachurch through the time I was fired in April 2009 until July 5, 2009, which was the last Sunday I attended. I longed for more depth from the pulpit as I knew the “adrenalin rush” I got from the Sunday morning service was not what got me through the horror of what happened at my work place. No, it was the time I spent with the Lord every morning before work from the time I landed in Houston that gave me the strength to get through it and, most importantly, gave me back my relationship with Jesus Christ that I let wane for so many, many years. And so I left the megachurch that drew me to Houston in the first place; but while I left the megachurch, Houston has never left my heart.
Well, this post is long enough so maybe I’ll write a “Part Two” later. But the most important thing I want to leave with you, dear readers, is that no matter what church you attend (or you might not even be attending a church), do not forsake a daily time of meeting with the Lord and reading His Word and praying, even if it’s only for a few minutes each day. Do it every day, without excuse and with your whole heart, and I can promise you it will change your life. How do I know this? Because it has completely changed mine.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15 NIV 1984). The Message Bible states it this way, “Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple. Stay clear of pious talk that is only talk. Words are not mere words, you know. If they’re not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul” (MSG).
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For many years there has been a passage of Scripture that has haunted me by its meaning. It seemed to be saying that a person who professes to know Christ but continues to lives in aberrant sin can still be saved (that is, he will be saved on the day the Lord returns) but his “flesh” in this life will be destroyed. The passage is found in I Corinthians 5:1-12 (specifically, verse 5) and while it primarily deals with a deviant form of sexual sin (a man sleeping with his stepmother) at the beginning of the passage, it goes on to talk about Christians who are involved in not only sexual immorality, but greed, idolatry and slander, and those who are a drunkard or a swindler (Verse 11). Let’s read it:
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? 3 Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
It is very clear here that the Apostle Paul is speaking to Christians who profess to believe in Jesus Christ and not to the outside world. Verse 12 is very specific that we who know Christ should not judge those outside of the church (the culture at large) but rather to judge those who are in the church. It is God’s business to judge the rest of the world, not ours.
Also, in Verses 9-11, Paul is very clear that he is speaking to Christians to not associate with a brother (e.g. another Christian) who calls himself a brother but is “sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.”
Whoa… did you get that?
We who profess to be Christian are not to judge the outside world, but we are to judge sin when it is rampant in the church. I don’t know about you, but over the past several decades what I have observed is that the church has spent a lot of time railing at the culture (those outside of the church) but not dealing with the sin within its own borders, which is exactly the opposite of what Paul is telling us we should be doing.
We don’t even try to clean up our own act, but we tell the rest of the world to clean up theirs. And then we wonder why the church is so ineffective in our culture today.
Let’s go back to the specific sin mentioned in the first few verses–a man who was having sexual relations with his father’s wife (his stepmother). It was apparent that this man had no remorse over what he was doing yet he claimed to be a follower of Jesus Christ. From what I read in Verse 5, he was, indeed, a follower of Christ but unrepentant in his sin and did not want to give it up. Therefore, the very chilling words in Verse 5 spelled out what happened to him– “hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” Did you get that? He was to be handed over to Satan (yes, this follower of Jesus Christ), so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
This is not a topic that I ever remember being addressed in churches I’ve attended over the past many years. However, I do want to point out that I am not bringing up this topic to scare anyone who professes to be a follower of Jesus Christ but rather to make them think about their lives in a different way. Because our culture offers us some of the greatest things that have ever been available to mankind, we get caught up in the culture’s mentality. It’s that old, “Bigger, better, more, more, more” mentality that is never, ever appeased. And we all choose our own poison–and yes, it’s pervasive in the church in America. We just don’t recognize it anymore. We’ve been lulled to sleep by the excesses of the culture around us.
Consider this your “wake-up” call if you haven’t already had one. Seriously think about your life and the direction you are headed and, be honest now–does it honor the Lord Jesus Christ whom you profess to follow? Has sexual immorality or greed crept in? How about idolatry? (I’ve already confessed in a previous post about the fact that I had made my male mentor friend a god of my own making for 14 years before the full impact of what I was doing hit me square in the face.) How about slander and gossip? Are they your gods? Are you a closet alcoholic or do you swindle folks out of things that rightfully belong to them? Or, has your heart just grown cold regarding the things of God and you’ve lost your first love–Jesus Christ?
As Christians, I think we should all examine our lives on a very regular basis in order to keep the things of this world that so tempt us out of our lives (and we all know who the father of temptation is–and it’s not God). We need to stop judging the world at large and start judging ourselves. We need to clean up our act if we need to and not be prideful enough to keep saying we have no sin. The father of the prideful is not God.
And we need to run back to our first love, Jesus Christ, who will cleanse us from all sin (I John 1:9) and put us back on the right track so that we never have to experience the horror that the unrepentant man in I Cor. 5 experienced when he was handed over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. But the story does not end there… the really good news is this–that man eventually came to his senses and repented of his sexual immorality and he was restored to fellowship with his fellow Christians and with God (2 Cor. 2:7).
And that’s something worth celebrating! So, let’s destroy those false gods before they destroy us, or repent of them if they currently have a hold on us. I was slowly being devoured for 14 years by a friendship I thought God had put in my life (NOT…), but when I repented, God amazingly and lovingly restored me. And He can restore you, too!
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Boy, that title sounds ominous, doesn’t it? But think about this–when you clean house, what is it that you are doing? You’re getting rid of the dirt, grim and clutter that has accumulated over time and making your house beautiful once again, right? I know in my own little piece of the world (my little seasonal rental) I can let it get quite cluttered. However, I always seem to reach a point there I just can’t stand the clutter so I take a few days to accomplish the task (well, cleaning has never really been my forte so I might not be as fast accomplishing it as others who keep an immaculate house most of the time). But, once I’ve been “inspired” and it’s done and everything is in order, my little seasonal rental looks terrific and I feel great! Here’s the rub, though… it needs to be done on a continual basis.
I was inspired this morning by reading “Our Daily Bread” for today (Nov. 19, 2011) titled, “When God Cleans House.” It’s about Jonah and his attitude towards something that God wanted him to do and he decided, in a fit of stubbornness, to run away. Well, if you are familiar with the story of Jonah (a scant four chapters in the Old Testament but full of application for today) you will remember that very early on he ended up in the belly of a big fish for three days, miraculously sustained by God, to give him pause for thought regarding his stubbornness about what God was calling him to do. Well, I imagine that if any of us were stubborn in doing what we knew God was calling us to do, and we ended up like Jonah in the belly of a big fish to think about our attitudes and actions, that would certainly give us pause for thought about the direction of our lives, too.
The main story of Jonah is not only about Jonah, but about the people who lived in the city of Nineveh which at that time had over 120,000 people living in it. Jonah was sent by God to Nineveh to proclaim a message to them to turn from their own evil ways and repent and turn back to God. While Jonah had no intention of doing that in the beginning, after spending three days in the belly of the big fish he thought otherwise, and as Jonah 2:10 states, “And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (NIV 1984).
Since Nineveh was a very important city, it required three days to get the information out to the people. Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD given to him and delivered his message which is found in Jonah 3. He proclaimed that judgment was coming on the city of Nineveh in forty days (the city would be overturned) and to the Ninevites’ credit, they believed this word from God through Jonah. When the word of God reached the king of Nineveh, he issued a proclamation in Nineveh and declared a fast and, in his own words stated, “Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish” (verses 7-9).
Now here’s the really great news–“When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened” (verse 10). Got that? God did not bring about the destruction he had threatened on that city. That is incredibly fantastic news!!!
What astonishes me about this story is how Jonah reacted to this news (Jonah 4). It says in Jonah 4:1 that “Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.” Wow. That was definitely not the reaction I expected. I thought that Jonah would be thrilled at what had happened in Nineveh. Now I have no idea why Jonah reacted in that way nor would I even try to speculate. But despite Jonah’s reaction, the story is really all about God’s great compassion on a city that had lost its way as stated in the last verse in Jonah as God was talking to Jonah, “Nineveh has more than 120,000 people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:11).
This is one of the great “hallmark” stories in the Bible of God’s compassion and mercy for people who have lost their way. As I think about our nation and all of the turmoil that is going on and how much we are in need of clear direction, I can’t help but think about the story of Jonah and Nineveh and how God relented from destroying the city of Nineveh when the people turned to God in repentance, fasting and humbleness.
I spent three days thoroughly cleaning my little seasonal rental two or three weeks ago, and while I was cleaning it, I reviewed my own life and all that I have been through especially during this very long time of unemployment. God has taken me from being a woman who had reached a point of not knowing my right hand from my left and, over time, cleaned me up to the point where I finally stopped thinking about myself all the time and grew to have great compassion for this nation and all of the people living in our nation and the world. And, most importantly, I found my way back to my first love–Jesus Christ. Jesus really is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and the peace and freedom that I now have I would never replace with anything this world has to offer.
However, I think there is a twinge of Jonah in all of us. Because of the very stressful times we live in today, instead of showing compassion to others we vent anger and frustration. I know I certainly have at times (mostly when I’ve been in my seasonal rental ranting about something that happened that day). And, Jonah certainly did that both before he went to Nineveh and after he gave his message from God to Nineveh resulting in Nineveh’s repentance and salvation. However, I don’t want to end up like Jonah did at the end…
So I repent in sackcloth and ashes.
And, it’s a new day, and for those of us who know Jesus as Savior and Lord, we should never be afraid when God calls us to clean up our own houses (e.g. our lives). Instead of turning away from God in anger (I can’t imagine spending three days in the belly of a fish was much fun for Jonah) let us turn to Him in humility and repentance. After all, when He is in control of our lives, that is when we can truly become “salt and light” to a lost and dying world around us. As Matt 5:13-16 states, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
And let us never forget to “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever” (I Chron. 16:34).
YouTube video – “Midnight Cry” sung by Michael English and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
Photo credit here
Okay, I know you’re waiting with baited breath to hear the outcome of my last post. (You are waiting, right?) Well… I didn’t get picked to interview for that particular position in Houston, but there is a very big upside in not getting picked as a candidate for that particular position…
…and the upside is that there is another position at that same university that posted at the time the Associate Dean called me about the first position, and I am far more interested in pursuing this second position. However, I didn’t want to apply for it until I heard about my chances for the first position. While I have twenty years of experience in student services/academic advising for the first position, I am so ready to do something different while remaining in a higher education environment. And, this second position is right down my “creative” alley, so to speak. You see, my first love has always been art/architecture, photography, writing, and creative endeavors as well as working with a wide variety of people and managing projects; and this second job has all of that. Plus, my bachelor’s degree is in art and design which is a major plus as a potential candidate. Is that cool, or what?
The irony in all of this is that over three years ago when I moved to Houston for the job that has left me unemployed for over two and a half years now, I was ecstatic to be offered that particular position as it was in a very creative higher education environment. And, I’m sure I’d still be employed there if it wasn’t for the unfortunate set of circumstances with my former boss. However, now that this new opportunity at another university in Houston has opened up, I applied for it as soon as I heard that I wasn’t being considered for the first position.
So, while I’m once again in “wait” mode, I am so excited about the possibility of this new position where I would be able to utilize my creative abilities as well as my many years of experience in higher education to the benefit of this particular university, and its students, faculty, administration, and the surrounding community; and, I’m thrilled for another opportunity to return to Houston. So, I’m going to extend the verse that I quoted on my last post to this one:
“But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Indeed, good things come to those who wait.
UPDATE 12-23-11: Wasn’t considered for this job, either, so I’m STILL waiting!!! I should be VERY strong by the time this waiting period is over!!!
YouTube video– “Second Chance” by Hillsong:
Photo credit here
We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway
And I wonder if I’m really with you now
Or just chasing after some finer day.
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting
And I tell you how easy it feels to be with you
And how right your arms feel around me.
But I rehearsed those words just late last night
When I was thinking about how right tonight might be.
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting
And tomorrow we might not be together
I’m no prophet. Lord, I don’t know nature’s way
So I’ll try to see into your eyes right now
And stay right here, ’cause these are the good old days.
Well, in my case, I’m still waiting to hear from that job in Houston. I’ll not give up no matter what. They may not call, but there will always be another day and another job to apply for there, and I just decided I won’t give up. One way or the other, I want that second chance to live and work in Houston again.
Just thought I’d post this quick update since I mentioned in my last post on November 1st that it would be about ten days before I would hear anything if they were going to pick me as one of the final candidates to interview. Today is Day #10. Of course, as I am writing this it is 5:00 a.m. and the day is still very, very young and nobody is up in Houston yet (in fact, very few are up here!!!).
A-N-T-I-C-I-P-A-T-I-O-N . . .
“But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Photo credit here
Welcome to November–the month of Thanksgiving! I have a lot to be thankful for, and I bet you do, too. I think the Apostle Paul, who wrote a large portion of the New Testament, said it best, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:1o-13 NASB). After the past two and a half years, I know exactly what he means, too.
While I’ve never had a lot of material possessions or money–for example I’ve never owned a house and I’ve always had to take out five-year car loans for most of the cars I’ve owned; and, I never made a lot of money at any job until the nice salary I received at the place where I lost my job in Houston–I’ve always had enough to pay my way (read that “bills”) through life with a lot of nice extras (Like books!!!! And music!!! And techy stuff!!! And artsy stuff!!!).
I’ve never been particularly materialistic although I do like nice things (don’t we all?) and I learned a very, very, very long time ago never to depend on credit cards to get me by when the money ran out. No… living on credit cards is like living in prison. Of course, there are some things one must use a credit card for–like purchasing airplane tickets or buying books on Amazon.com (a little humor as you know by now how much I love books) but I’ve always paid off the credit card in full as soon as the bill arrived. I can’t stand debt and I’ve tried the best I know how to stay out of it all of my adult life. In fact, I paid off my last car loan over two years ago and six months into this long period of unemployment and, boy, did I do a happy dance on that day (Oct. 23, 2009)!!! I was totally debt free even though I was unemployed, and I was one happy camper.
I’ve mentioned in a previous post how God has taken care of me financially all during this time of unemployment, and He’s also provided for my every need, including a place to live. As you know if you’ve read my previous posts, I lost all of my furniture and a whole lot of other possessions (including over 600 books) when I left Houston to return to Florida. I came back to Florida as a very good friend of mine offered her spare bedroom in her home to me while I continued to look for work. I was still in Houston at that time and I was looking into renting a room out of a home and putting my possessions in storage at the end of my apartment lease when this offer from my friend came up. Since I always loved living in Florida I decided to go back and that is how I ended up where I am now in a beautiful little town by the ocean not far from a very large metropolitan area.
I stayed in my friend’s home for three months until I was able to find this adorable little furnished seasonal rental (the upstairs of an old home)–completely furnished with bedroom, living room, and dining room furniture, bedding, towels, linens, kitchen utensils, microwave, toaster oven, vacuum and cleaning materials, and satellite TV. Talk about God providing me with exactly what I needed… Wow. And it has all kinds of personality–beautiful wood walls and floors, two ceiling fans, two window air conditioners, and the woman who manages it also decorates it according to whether the tenant is male or female. In my case, I’ve had pretty lace curtains over dark green shades on all of the windows, with floral sheets and bedding. And you should see the bathroom–the shower curtain, towels, and bathroom fixtures are all decorated in “Hollywood glamour” decor. And, I’ve had all of this for almost two years for half the price of my apartment rent in Houston. Unbelievable. Talk about something to be grateful for–I have thanked God more times that I can count for providing this beautiful little place for me.
This seasonal rental has been a little oasis as I continue to apply for jobs all over the United States. I never dreamed that I would be living here for this long, but I can say that it’s much better then just renting a room out of someone else’s home. Rented rooms in Houston ran $350-450/mo. This beautiful little seasonal rental is $450/mo. plus electricity and completely private (unlike living in someone else’s home). God’s faithfulness has abounded while I’ve struggled through this very long time of unemployment.
I’ve applied for 460 jobs now over the past 2 1/2 years, several of which were back in Houston. And, I’ve had the opportunity to interview (by phone) for several of those positions in Houston, but the last call from Houston was a year ago. Obviously, I didn’t get that job; however, on October 7, 2011, I applied for an Assistant Director of Academic Advising position at a stellar university in Houston, and I got the surprise of my life last week when the Associate Dean of Undergraduates called me to see if I was still interested in the position. Of course, I said YES!!!!!!!!! He told me that the search committee will be deciding within the next ten days on candidates they want to fly to Houston for interviews, and if I am one of the candidates selected I will be contacted. I’ve been living on Cloud Nine ever since that call.
I’ve lived in Florida since June 1992 and I’ve loved it here. I’ve lived in Fort Lauderdale and Miami and Orlando and Lakeland and now here in this town near Tampa. I’ve loved every single city I’ve lived in and they all have there own Florida brand of “uniqueness” and trademark. My first city, Fort Lauderdale, is, well, just a beautiful city and has some of the most spectacular beaches in the world–landscaped and architecturally breathtaking; Miami–the one word I think of to describe Miami is exotic–there’s a real sensual feel to it and I don’t mean that in a sexual sense. There is something in the atmosphere there that moved me to the core of my being. And Orlando (I lived there twice for a total of 8 1/2 years)–of course there are all of the major attractions like Disney, and it has a very beautiful downtown area–I especially loved walking around Lake Eola, and it’s bustling with activity. Moving to Lakeland was a bit of a challenge for me as I like big cities, but even Lakeland won my heart while I was there. When I first arrived for a job at a university that I thought I would work at until I retired, I envisioned myself retiring there. Of course, that didn’t happen–Houston did…. And when I came back from Houston I landed here in this beautiful little town near Tampa, a perfect resting place while looking for a job. This is the smallest town I’ve lived in but it is filled with friendly people and beautiful scenery (especially the beautiful river park I frequent regularly just a stone’s throw from my place). I’ve been hoping to find a job in this area for the past two years and stay here, but it has not materialized.
And now Houston called… a city that still woos me in my sleep to this very day. I haven’t been able to get it off of my mind since receiving that phone call from the Associate Dean last week. I don’t know if I will be one of the candidates selected to fly there for an interview, but I can tell you one thing–my bags are packed if it happens. I never got to know Houston the first time around as my stay was much too short and my circumstances were less than stellar. But I do believe in Second Chances.
I love Florida, and I loved Houston when I was there. Maybe Houston will give me a Second Chance. I’ll keep you posted.
Photo credits here