God is always hiring–what a concept, eh? It happens to be the title of Regina Brett‘s latest book, “God Is Always Hiring: 50 Lessons for Finding Fulfilling Work” (2015). And it’s great news for someone in my shoes who has been unemployed for longer than I care to think about at this point in time. The back cover states that “this book relates tales of discouragement turning into hope, and persistence paying big dividends.” Well, I’m all about persistence that I never knew I had before this long and unending period of unemployment came along to change the direction of my life.
The title of Brett’s book also reminded me of a parable that Jesus taught to a crowd that seems to indicate that God is “always hiring” those who seek him, regardless of whether they come to him early in life or later, even much later. He can use anyone who makes themselves available to him (and he’ll even use those who don’t, but that’s topic for another time). The parable is found in Matthew 20:1-16, and here’s the story taken from The Message Bible:
“God’s kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work.
“Later, about nine o’clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.
“He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o’clock. At five o’clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, ‘Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?’
“They said, ‘Because no one hired us.’
“He told them to go to work in his vineyard.
“When the day’s work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, ‘Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.’
“Those hired at five o’clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, ‘These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.’
“He replied to the one speaking for the rest, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn’t we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can’t I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?’
“Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.” (Matthew 20:1-16 MSG)
God’s kingdom is always a “great reversal” of the system we find operating in the world, such as in the statement, “The first will be last, and the last first.” Another example is “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.“ (Luke 6:27-28; see also Matthew 5:43-48). In fact, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5-7) is about some of the great reversals that make up the kingdom of God here on earth regarding such topics as anger, lust, divorce, worry, hypocrisy, loving our enemies, giving to the needy, as well as other timely topics.
For those who might not be familiar with the term “kingdom of God,” GotQuestions.org gives us the following definition:
The kingdom of God is referenced often in the gospels (e.g., Mark 1:15; 10:15; 15:43; Luke 17:20) and other places in the New Testament (e.g., Acts 28:31; Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50). The kingdom of God is synonymous with the kingdom of heaven. The concept of the kingdom of God takes on various shades of meaning in different passages of Scripture.
Broadly speaking, the kingdom of God is the rule of an eternal, sovereign God over all the universe. Several passages of Scripture show that God is the undeniable Monarch of all creation: “The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). And, as King Nebuchadnezzar declared, “His kingdom is an eternal kingdom” (Daniel 4:3). Every authority that exists has been established by God (Romans 13:1). So, in one sense, the kingdom of God incorporates everything that is.
More narrowly, the kingdom of God is a spiritual rule over the hearts and lives of those who willingly submit to God’s authority. Those who defy God’s authority and refuse to submit to Him are not part of the kingdom of God; in contrast, those who acknowledge the lordship of Christ and gladly surrender to God’s rule in their hearts are part of the kingdom of God. In this sense, the kingdom of God is spiritual—Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36), and He preached that repentance is necessary to be a part of the kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17). That the kingdom of God can be equated with the sphere of salvation is evident in John 3:5–7, where Jesus says the kingdom of God must be entered into by being born again. See also 1 Corinthians 6:9. (Quote source here.)
The apostle Paul give us a great example of this way of living in Philippians 2:1-16 (and Paul was writing from prison at the time he penned these words). Here is Paul’s advice taken from The Message Bible:
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.
What I’m getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I’m separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing. (Philippians 2:1-16 MSG).
A breath of fresh air . . . . The kingdom of God is very good news, and anyone is welcome regardless of their status, situation, or circumstances. It only requires a willing heart and a belief in God through Jesus Christ. And the requirement is stated in John 3:16-18 (MSG):
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son [Jesus Christ]. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him (John 3:16-18 MSG).
However, back to Regina Brett‘s latest book titled, “God Is Always Hiring: 50 Lessons for Finding Fulfilling Work.” Lesson #17 caught my eye with the title, “When things fall apart, they could actually be falling into place.” The lesson opens with the following story on pp. 85-87:
There’s an old saying: “Some years ask questions, some years answer them.” Most of us would rather be living in a year with answers.
Sometimes you go through months or years of uncertainty, where everything on the outside looks stagnant. You’re stuck in a winter where you can’t see the growth. When you look back on those periods of time, you were growing roots.
Some years you see the fruits of your labor, you flower, you bloom, you strut your stuff, and the world sees a bouquet and celebrates. Root years aren’t so attractive. There’s not much to show for them until much later in your life when you realize that those were the most vital years of all.
I thought of that when I heard about Mary Ann Corrigan-Davis. She had a dream job, then lost it and found a more perfect dream. She graduated from college with a degree in French and planned to go into international business. She got her MBA from Case Western Reserve University and expected to get the perfect job in international business as soon as she graduated.
It took a year of interviews to find a job, and when she did, it was in sales at American Greetings, the card company. She planned to stay briefly and then move on to pursue her dream job. She stayed for 27 years. She ended up as president of the Retail Division in charge of 440 stores across 40 states, worked in Australia, and climbed the ladder all the way to the rung called Senior Vice President of Business Innovation. Then it all came to a screeching halt.
She got downsized. Then her dad died. Then she got breast cancer.
All in one year.
She said, “Lord, You have my attention. What it is You would like me to do?”
It looked muddy and messy at the time, but looking back, it’s clear what that time was for.
She got to be with her dad in his final days.
She got to heal and make getting well her full-time job.
She got to strengthen her faith when she went through chemotherapy and radiation, a faith that was deepened by her years at Saint Joseph Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school.
After Mary Ann survived the storm, she found a huge rainbow. She ended up in the job of her dreams, one that didn’t exist until she got downsized. She’s now president of Saint Joseph Academy, the school she always loved. She likes being in a workplace driven by a sense of mission, not profit.
“Life is like a roller coaster,” she told me. “Sometimes you do want to throw up. You just have to believe it will get better.”
How do you keep believing?
You make denial work for you. You believe in spite of the statistics. You believe past your doubts. You believe anyway. (Quote source: “God Is Always Hiring,” pp. 85-87.)
In an example from Brett’s own life, she describes a time of transition for her (in Lesson #40) when she took a trip with a friend in 2007 to the Wright Brothers National Memorial (in memory of Orville and Wilbur Wright who invented the first airplane and took it on its maiden flight in 1903) in North Carolina. The memorial is a 60-foot monument inscribed with the words, “Dauntless Resolution. Unconquerable Faith”—words that transformed her thinking about her own life. And it was that trip that inspired her to write down her dreams of becoming an author when she got back home (pp. 214-215):
Once home, I taped the brochure from the Wright Memorial with the black-and-white photo of that plane on my vision board. I made the covers to all the books I wanted to write and posted them there. Then I wrote at the top: “This or something better.”
Was it okay to tell God what I wanted? Should I seek my heart’s desire or God’s will? Then I remembered what Beth told me: God’s will is your heart’s purest desire. They are one and the same.
Was it okay to post it there in the open? I knew it was when Beth sent me this quote from Habakkuk, a chapter of the Bible that I had never even heard of:
Then the Lord answered me and said, Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.
Wait and it will surely come.
God is rarely early, but God is never late. (Quote source: “God Is Always Hiring,” pp. 214-215.)
Since that time, Brett has authored three New York Times best selling books, including this latest book titled, “God Is Always Hiring.” Her story is a great example of how God puts dreams and desires in our hearts, but the timing of it’s fulfillment is up to him. And the words Brett used to end her own story ring out to the rest of us who are still waiting . . . .
Wait and it will surely come . . .
God is rarely early . . .
But God is never late . . . .
YouTube Video: “What Faith Can Do” by Kutless: