(Pardon the length, just felt the need to share)
Some that follow this blog know my current life situation but most probably don’t. I wanted to write a little about it so that all will “be in the know.” It’s a long, winding tale but I’ll eventually get to the bottom line in relation to what’s going on right now.
I work in the Information Technology arena. I have basically worked for the same company for over 18 years. ALLTEL was my former employer. They were bought out by a private equity firm that then sold the ALLTEL assets to Verizon Wireless in 2010. For the last 2 years I have been on a divestiture transition type team knowing that my job would eventually come to an end as all systems were transitioned over to Verizon or shut down. That happened for me at the beginning of February, 2012.
The last two years have really been very gloomy due to knowing the writing on the wall and really not having much to do. It’s not a very fulfilling position to be in. I was a slave to the money since they paid so well and had great benefits plus we are in a tough economy and decent I.T. jobs are hard to come by, especially when you live in a state like Arkansas. So, it became more and more depressing as the months went by.
When this 2 year period started, my family was not in church. My wife and I grew up in the same church since the 70’s and even started dating on a youth ski trip in January of ’86. She was 15 and I was 17. Over the years we drifted away from church and were just turned off by it for some reason. I blamed the church and certain people there but over time I’ve realized that it was my own fault due to a lack of a personal relationship with God. And I mean this. We grew up in a wonderful, God-fearing church with wonderful people. I was to blame for how I perceived it. But it took a while to get to that recognition. God then stepped up His pursuit of us.
In the late summer or early fall of 2010, my wife was asked by a work colleague to visit her church (she is the pastor’s wife no less and I love her greatly now). I was a little hesitant at first, of course, but after reading the pastor’s bio on their website, I was amazed at some of the things he listed as hobbies, likes, etc. as being very similar to mine. This was completely different from what I grew up knowing with a couple of pastors that were very formal, non-approachable (at least in my opinion), and so forth. Based on what Laura was telling me, this pastor was completely different. He was real. Another thing that was different was that this church was a lot smaller, with less amenities than we were used to (shallow, I know now). Our church growing up was one of the biggest around.
With that said, we still decided to visit because God seemed to be pushing us to go back to church, especially with a 13-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter. My kids were against it because they had friends at the other church. We visited anyway. The first time was alright, nothing out of the ordinary except that the main church service was a little less formal, starchy, and it was more laid back. And the preacher was the same way with humor thrown in. I kind of liked that.
We were asked to attend a 101 class that taught us about the church history, what they believed, their structure and a few other things. The pastor taught it. This was another opportunity to get to see his personality and get to know him better. For some reason, he and I seemed to hit it off right away. Wow. This was new territory for me. I better be on my best behavior. Ha. His motto is “love people where they are” and it’s the church’s as well. They really demonstrate this in my opinion.
Something I noticed over the next few weeks that turned into a couple of months was that I wasn’t nervous about going to church and feeling awkward, concerned about how I’m dressed, what I’m gonna say during “small talk,” being judged, and probably a few other insecurities. I felt more and more comfortable every time I stepped through the doorways. Could this be? Is this the type of church I’ve been desiring all along but had no idea it existed? Or is God really working on me and changing my desires? I now believe it was both. I feel at home at my new church. I praise the LORD for that!
He has been doing big things in me during the last year and a half in His church. I had mentioned that I was interested in helping elderly folks that are not really computer literate. I wanted to help them configure, set up, resolve, fix all things that they were too technologically challenged to do. The very nice lady on staff that is responsible for all the different ministries involved with the church said that she’d let everyone know about this for me. I thought, “Cool, they’ll be beating my door down and it will give me something to do instead of being bored and depressed at work all the time.”
Well, I basically heard “crickets.” After about 8-10 or so months, no one had taken me up on my offer to help. I was disappointed needless to say. But, I wasn’t really discouraged. We just kept going to Bible study class and church (and joined a community group) every week. It has gotten to the point that if the doors are open, I want to be there. If you knew me growing up or even up to 1.5 years ago, this it totally a GOD thing. He has completely made my heart towards the church do a 180 degree turn (mainly towards Him, that’s the key). He has really blessed me with that. Over time, my kids have even seemed to feel that same way. There is no, “Dad, can we just sleep in? I don’t want to go today.” They are disappointed if they miss. That’s an even greater blessing to me. Awesome.
I think God wanted me to take my time, get to know folks, learn some patience and He wanted to work on my heart more. Then, I had my first call. A wonderful lady asked me to help her with her computer. I couldn’t believe it. “Of course I will!” God must have been working through me because I seemed to make a good impression. It helped that He gave me the knowledge to actually do some good on the computer, that’s for sure. Then another month or so went by. I wondered if that would be it. Then I get another call from another great lady in our church. She was told by the first lady how good a job I did and asked me to help her out. God was willing, and I was able to help her too. Then a short time later, the first lady called me back. And then another lady, then a couple, another lady, a gentleman, etc. Word has seemed to spread like wild-fire. It’s great to be able to help them. I think it’s probably a bigger blessing for me than it is for them. I feel God is using me which makes me feel worth something. That’s a great feeling by the way.
Well, I’m now back to being laid off in February like I previously mentioned. I had semi-joked and semi-seriously told my pastor that when I’m laid off, I’d like to do volunteer work at the church until I found a job, but I’d need my own office to do so (that’s the joke part). Well a few days later on a Wednesday, he told me he has an office for me. I thought he was joking this time. That night while meeting in the church conference room, I saw a piece of paper taped to the door of the little office next to the room (see picture on right). That was awesome and I wasn’t going to wait until he said, “I’m just kidding.” I started coming into church each day like it was my new job. Since then, I’ve been made to feel like I’m one of the staff while helping out here or there with all kinds of I.T. related tasks and even some non-I.T. tasks. Another great blessing for me that has made me feel needed. I’ve actually been so busy doing it that it was seriously cutting into my time to actually look for a “paying” job. So, I’m trying to stick with a Tuesday through Thursday schedule. The other two days are taken up with helping others with their computer issues. Just joking. That’s just some of the time. 😉
Ok, back around to the job (finally). This is the first time in my life that I’m putting this decision in God’s hands. For real. God has been “working” on me hard, over the last 6 months to a year and I’m finally understanding some things and know that I need to follow Him where ever that leads. So with that said, I don’t just need, but I expect an answer from Him about these jobs I’m considering, interviewing for, etc. I expect a peace and desire if it’s His will or questions and concerns if it’s not. I’m not sitting around thinking He’s going to talk directly to me like Moses or something but He can speak to us in different ways (but He could if He wanted). If I stay focused on Him, spend time daily in His Word and prayer, He will “speak” to me about this. And whether I’m getting an I.T. job like I’m used to or He somehow calls me to Indonesia (for example), I hope I’m ready to obey because only He knows what’s best for us in our current lives on earth and to experience ultimate joy, we must follow. I’m not sure what I want to do “when I grow up,” but I’m darn sure God knows what He wants me to do. It’s just a matter of me being patient, seeking Him, and getting an answer.
And finally, God has truly blessed us with a decent financial situation giving me time to wait on Him. But in my “human-ness,” I’d prefer it to be sooner than later. Can you relate?
If you’re the praying sort, please pray that I’ll recognize God’s answer and will have the wisdom, desire, and courage to respond in the affirmative. Thanks a bunch.