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A Year Ago Today ...
20 December 2010
It was exactly one year ago today that I started to discover the signs that my boss was firing me behind my back, without the courage or courtesy to tell me to my face. (You can read more details in The Agony and the Ecstasy) It was definitely a traumatic time. And the months leading up to it were increasingly traumatic as well.
But now with 12 months of hindsight, I realize that it didn't have to be that way. In September 2009, when I was told by my boss to work on a morally repugnant project, I knew that my days at the ElijahList were numbered. I kept asking God if I could quit, but never felt like I got a definite "Yes" from Him. But as I shared in a previous article, Hearing But Not Listening, sometimes God speaks to us but we don't realize it's Him, because it's so gentle and subtle — that "still small voice" that the prophet Elijah learned about, as recounted in 1 Kings 19.
Rather than go against my conscience and defile myself by working on a project that I felt was immoral and wrong, I should have told my boss then and there that I would not work on it, and that I would quit if necessary. Instead, I did defile myself by going along with the scheme. At the time I felt that it might not be wise to give up my job when there was so much unemployment. And then what would I do for income to pay my family's living expenses?
Now, after being unemployed for a full year, and having all of our financial needs met in abundance, and no financial crisis on the horizon, those worries I had back then seem pretty silly. The reality is that there were absolutely no financial reasons why I could not have quit my job back in September 2009, three months before I was eventually fired. Doing so would have saved me a lot of grief, and given me the satisfaction of making a stand for righteousness, instead of defiling myself by submitting to unrighteousness. Well, live and learn! If and when there is a "next time," I don't intend to make the same mistake. I'm not going to put myself through months agony like that again!
So where does that leave me job-wise? I just can't see myself going into a situation where my boss is like a overbearing parent, treating me like a five-year-old. Ummm ... I'm almost 50 years old now — I need to be treated like the adult that I am. Nor can I see myself in a situation where my boss is like the master, and I'm treated like a slave. I want a job where I am part of a team, and respected as an equal, not looked down on as an inferior. Nor do I desire a situation where I'm not even treated as a person, but just an object to be used and then discarded when done. I've already had enough of these abuses of leadership and authority during the past decades, and I just don't have the stomach to endure it any more.
Well, seeing that the world is full of overbearing bosses and bad work situations, my options are starting to feel a bit limited! But these things are NOT the real issue.
Because I am a follower of Yeshua (Jesus), because I have submitted my life to Him as my Master, what I want is really immaterial. It's only what HE wants that counts. As Yeshua, our example, prayed while on this earth two thousand years ago, "Father ... I want Your will to be done, not mine" (Luke 22:42). Because I have given my life to Him, God is the one who is in charge of such decisions as where I will live and where I will work.
Even though Yeshua was God's Son — God Himself in a human body — He still lived a fully human life, so as to fully experience our struggles:
While Yeshua was here on earth, He offered prayers and pleadings, with loud cries and tears, to the One who could rescue Him from death. And God heard His prayers because of His deep reverence for God. Even though Yeshua was God's Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered. (Hebrews 5:7-8)Because I have placed my life in God's hands, I need to trust Him regarding what He does with my life. Just because I might not like what He is doing with what I have given Him is no reason to take it back. I can't give my life to Him conditionally, following Him when it suits me, and doing my own thing when it doesn't. Following Yeshua is an all or nothing proposition, as He Himself said, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Messiah suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in His steps. (1 Peter 2:21)
To be perfectly honest, I have NO idea how my being unemployed for an entire year (and counting!) is God's best for me, or how it fits into His eternal plan for me and the universe. I have absolutely NO direction or vision for my future employment. I'm frustrated and discouraged. I wonder where in the world God is and what He is doing (or NOT doing) with me, and why it has to be this way. I've given my life to Him for His service, and it seems that He would rather put me on a shelf than give me something worthwhile to do for His Kingdom. What's the deal?!
But this is not the time to wimp out and turn my back on God. Will I follow Yeshua only in the easy times, and not in the hard times? What kind of faith or commitment would that be? No, I must follow Him when He gives me interesting work to do for Him, and I must follow Him when He gives me a manipulative, backstabbing boss. I must follow Him when employed, and when unemployed. I must follow Him when I feel useful, and when I feel useless. I must follow Him in abundance, and in lack. Following Yeshua must be a 100% commitment, come hell or high water.
The Bible is full of stories of people who had to go through many hard times and much waiting until they entered into the destiny God had for them. So I guess I need to consider myself in the same boat as them. To a baby being born, the labor process is no doubt long and painful, and not fun or pleasant at all. It's long and painful for the mother too, but at least she knows what's happening — the baby has no idea what is going on. But it's all part of the process of entering into a new and larger life and destiny.
If I don't trust God with my life and my future, then I'm taking my life and my future back into my own hands. In essence, I would be setting MYSELF up as God, and telling Him that I can do a better job of it than He can! Ummm ... I don't think so! It's either one way or the other. Either God is in control of my life, or else I'm in control. The Bible clearly describes what it's like when I'm in control: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12).
Even when I don't understand what God is doing in my life, I must understand that His understanding and perspective are WAY above mine. As He said ages ago:
"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says Yahweh. "And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)God's job is to be in control of my life; my job is to trust Him and obey Him, even when it's hard or when I don't enjoy or understand what He's doing. The Bible, God's Word, teaches that He is all-powerful — should I then doubt His ability to run my life? The Bible teaches that His sheep (those who belong to Him) hear His voice — should I then doubt His ability to communicate His will to me? The Bible teaches that God is a loving Father and the Good Shepherd — should I then doubt His love and good intentions and plans for me?
God can see my future; I cannot at all. In His divine foresight, He can see what I need to be doing now that will prepare me for the future He has planned for me. He proclaims:
I am God, and there is none other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure." (Isaiah 46:9-10)Obviously, under the current circumstances, I cannot afford to "coast" financially for the long term — that it just not sustainable, even if it were what I wanted (which I don't). There's no question that I'm in a transition period. One day I will come out of this transition into the next thing God has for me. The question is: how much longer will this transition last? And what will I transition into? I only wish I knew!
One issue that I continue to struggle with is the feeling of uselessness. I have a lot of talents, skills and abilities. It's very frustrating to see that they are being wasted through lack of opportunity to use them. Surely someone in the world could benefit from all what I am able to do?! Why would God want to waste my abilities like that?
That word "waste" reminds me of a story from the Gospels. In it, Yeshua's disciples ask Him (with indignation) the very same question that I have been asking Him (with indignation): "Why this waste?" They were referring to a very expensive perfume (worth tens of thousands of dollars in today's money) which a woman had poured on Yeshua's head shortly before He was to be killed (see Matthew 26:6-13).
John in his Gospel relates some additional and different details. The woman is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and it says that she poured the perfume on Yeshua's feet (see John 12:1-8). Perhaps in reality she poured it on both His head and His feet. Anyway, Yeshua's followers were outraged at such an extravagant waste of resources. But Yeshua rebukes His followers, saying:
Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to Me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me. When she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her. (Matthew 26:10-13)Yeshua did not see this expensive perfume poured out at His feet as a waste, but as a beautiful act of love and worship, devotion and dedication. Perhaps my life is like that jar of perfume — a costly and valuable resource that should not be wasted. Perhaps, as I pour out my life at Yeshua's feet — all of my talents, skills, abilities, time, possessions, and any other resources I have at my disposal — perhaps it's NOT a waste, but accepted by Yeshua as a beautiful act of love and worship, devotion and dedication.
If, in His divine wisdom, Yeshua sees fit to "waste" my talents, skills and abilities through unemployment, why should I complain indignantly about it? Is not He, the Creator and King of the universe, worthy of such love and worship, devotion and dedication. Is anything given to Him in such a way ever to be considered a "waste"? Is it not a privilege to be "wasted" for such a noble purpose — His will and His pleasure? Yeshua is my Master. I am like a coin in His pocket — He can spend me any way He wants, even if that means "wastefully."
Through the eyes of this world, through the eyes of human wisdom, through the eyes of unbelief, such extravagance seems like a waste. But through the eyes of faith, love and obedience, the offering of my life, my abilities, my possessions to God, is a sweet smelling fragrance poured out at the feet of Yeshua. It is a beautiful thing. Yeshua is well pleased. And maybe one day He will actually decide that He has some work for me to do for Him before this life comes to an end.
As I follow Yeshua, I'm on a journey with Him. I don't know where I'm going, and I don't know how to get there. That's just what Yeshua's disciples said to Him the night before He was killed. And notice how He answered them:
"Master, we don't know where You are going, so how can we know the way?" Yeshua answered, "I am the way..." (John 14:5-6a)I don't have all the answers. I don't know what the future holds for me. I don't know where I am going. I just know who I am following. And I know that He has the answers, He knows what the future holds for me, and He knows where we are going, for He Himself is the Way. As I quoted in a previous article, Living For a Living:
"This life can't be neatly sewn up in the intellect. It must be uncovered in the journey. He'll make things clear to you as you need them... Time isn't Father's focus. He enjoys setting things right in us, even if it does take a bit of time.... Jesus didn't leave us with a system; he left us with his Spirit — a guide instead of a map."
This article is 6th a series of articles on this Web site related to My Journey with Yeshua (Jesus) which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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