Today, April 21, 2012, is the third anniversary of when I got fired from my job in Houston. I remember after the initial shock of being lead into my boss’s office where he and the HR director were waiting to tell me that that very moment would be my last there, a huge sense of relief came over me. The significant challenge that began on Day One almost seven months earlier was over although the ending was not what I had hoped for. If I had only known what I was walking into when I accepted that job, I never would have left Florida. To think that twenty years of working in higher education ended on such a sour note was not exactly the way I would have wanted to end my professional career. And, at the moment I left that building for the last time, I did not realize that my career in higher education had ended.
With all of my heart I believe that God is sovereign, and He is ultimately in control of everything that happens on this earth. Our understanding of our circumstances (or just about anything else) is microscopic; indeed, infinitesimal compared to His (Isaiah 55:8-9). Since I believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord with all of my heart, soul, spirit and mind, I knew He was still in control. Sometimes the end of one thing is the open door leading to a brand new beginning–a new beginning that I did not recognize on that fateful day three years ago.
I have spent the last three years trying to find a job in my profession and not one door leading back into it has opened. I’ve come close a few times, but close doesn’t bring in a paycheck. And, to be honest, most of the almost 500 jobs I’ve applied for since that fateful day have left me with an empty feeling. As the days passed into weeks, and the weeks passed into months, and now those months have passed into years, the longer I am away from it, the more I realize I never want to go back.
If you’ve been following this blog, you are already familiar with my story of my experience with unemployment these past three years, so I will not repeat it here. Suffice to say I’m still unemployed and now entering Year Number Four. That God has kept me alive financially for this long is truly a miracle in and of itself.
In a previous post, “Struggling With Prayer,” I’ve mentioned my struggle with prayer sometimes and about a year ago I had honestly reached a point where I just didn’t know what or how to pray anymore about my own situation and others I knew who are also in dire circumstances (and there are many out there in our world today). I mentioned to an associate pastor of a small church I attended for a few months at that time that I had reached a point where I started out my prayers with the words Jesus gave us in Matt. 6:7-13 (NIV, 1984) because I didn’t know what else to pray. Here’s that passage:
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
And I always ended my prayer with, “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” which is included in the NKJV. It was not a matter of rote memorization or casual familiarity with the passage that I did this every day, rather it was a heartfelt cry from a child that did not know what else to pray and who truly wanted the will of God to unfold in my life and the life of others that I knew truly needed it. Also, by beginning with this prayer, it sometimes lead into a longer prayer focused on Him and His will for this planet of ours.
As I look back on these past three years, the progression of change in me from who I was at the time I was fired to now has been nothing short of remarkable. And it has absolutely nothing to do with me and everything to do with God. My only part in this has been to trust Him totally and be yielded to Him and His will and not lean on my own understanding (no small feat) according to Prov. 3:5-6. And, as I’ve mentioned in my last post regarding the matter of appropriating faith in our circumstances according to Romans 12:3, we must not think more highly of ourselves then we ought to “but rather think of ourselves with sober judgment in accordance with the measure of faith God has already given to us.” Until we learn to get out of our own way and truly lean on and trust in Him totally with the measure of faith He has already given us, we will continue to stumble over our own feet and miss His best for our lives.
These past three plus years have been some of the hardest years of my life to navigate, but looking back I would not change a thing about any of it, even some of the most incredibly hard realizations I have had to face about myself and others. I have traveled a rocky road from fear to trust, from living by sight to living by faith, from depending on my own understanding to trusting that God knows what He is doing with my life if I will just take my own limited sight and understanding off of it. As Hebrews 12:7-8 states, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.” And while “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful . . . it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” and it “strengthens our feeble arms and weak knees and makes level paths for our feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed” (Hebrews 12:11-13).
Healed . . . by God. As I enter “Year Number Four” of uncertainty regarding my unemployment situation, I know God has something in store beyond anything I could have imagined or accomplished with my own understanding. But even beyond what lies ahead, what He has given me during these past three years is something nothing on this earth can replace . . . He’s given me a glimpse into His heart and given me His peace “which transcends all understanding,” and guards my heart and my mind in Jesus Christ (Phil. 4:7).
So, no matter what you might be facing right now, if you will let go of your own understanding and truly lean on Him only, He can and will do the same for you.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
—Prov. 3:5-6, NIV 1984
YouTube Video: “Hail To The King” written and sung by Shannon Wexelberg (recorded on her “Faithful God” CD, 2007):
Photo credit here