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The Agony and the Ecstasy
7 January 2010
Last month I became an illustrious member of the ranks (joining millions and millions of other Americans) of the unemployed. While the manner in which my employment was terminated was painful (I unintentionally discovered I was fired, during my Christmas vacation, two days before I was officially informed via e-mail, after I had to ask three times for an explanation), the end result of no longer working at the ElijahList is not distressing at all; rather, it is a glorious answer to prayer.
Me on the pier at Pismo Beach, California, on the very day I been notified that I was fired from my job. "Life's a beach!"
My heart had left months ago, and for months I had been begging God to get me out of there; then suddenly, it happened. Not exactly under the conditions I might have hoped for, but beggars can't be choosers! At least my body and mind can now be reunited with my heart!
I don't know ... maybe being fired long-distance is less difficult to deal with than being fired in person. It's not very fun being thrown to the sharks, but at least I won't have to face going down with the ship! But it did kind of put a damper on the Christmas festivities in Santa Maria that week. Interestingly enough, God had clearly shown me when I first started at the ElijahList, three-and-a-half years ago, that something like this would happen. So, I was warned!
For a while I've been feeling like I've been stagnating intellectually and professionally. I've been longing to go back to school, without any realistic opportunity to do so. About four years ago, while still living in Santa Maria, after I had been laid off from my previous job at the Healing Rooms, and before moving to Albany, I had taken the first of four courses at Hancock College that prepare the students for getting their Cisco certification (in computer networking). A number of times since then I have wished I could have taken the other three courses.
By the day after Christmas I was starting to feel much better. I could sense people's prayers lifting me up. That morning I went to Cisco's Web site to see where the nearest courses were. I was imagining it might be Salem or Eugene. But come to find out they are offered at Linn-Benton Community College (LBCC), just a few minutes' drive from our house! I had looked through their schedule of classes before, and never seen them. And the exact course I needed, the second one, which is only offered once a year, was starting in just 9 days! Therefore, the next day we piled back into the car and headed home, so I could be at LBCC first thing Monday morning to register as a student and sign up for the class.
As usual, God's timing is perfect! If they had waited to fire me until I got back from my Christmas vacation, by the time I had recovered from the trauma it may have been too late to sign up for this class. Things happened at just the right time to enable me to close one chapter and begin another. And now I have the opportunity to go back to school, just as I was dreaming of.
The night we arrived back home from our trip to Santa Maria, I had a simple yet very profound dream. In the dream I made the discovery that if you put Psalm 116 and Psalm 120 together, there was a synergy that made them much more powerful together than they were individually. Kind of a strange dream! Also, when I woke up from the dream, there was a song in my head that a friend of mine had written nearly 30 years ago, which I had not heard in a long time.
The next morning I went to look up those Psalms, and I sure was glad I was sitting down when I read them! Psalm 116 seemed to describe exactly what I had been going through for the past few months. Not only did it describe my situation and feelings, it also described things from God's point of view. And the first two verses of the Psalm were the words to the song that I had in my head when I woke up from the dream! Psalm 120 seemed like a continuation of Psalm 116, and to also expand on some of its themes. It was so stunning and so encouraging to have God speak to me in such a direct, personal and intimate way!
I won't quote these two Psalms here ... it would take up too much room. Look them up yourself (click on the links in the previous paragraph) ... and read them in a few different versions to get a fuller understanding of the meaning. I really like checking passages out in The Message. In my case, Psalms 116 and 120 truly are more powerful together than individually!
The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis. In light of the current problems I was having with intense emotional pain at work, it seemed like a good time to read the book again. I had lent it to someone a number of years ago, and never received it back, so I ordered myself another copy.
I started reading it around the middle of December, during the time the ElijahList was in the process of moving. Right from the opening pages this book was like a lifesaver thrown to me in the raging sea of pain and despair. I found it incredibly helpful in soothing my soul over the agonizing question, "God, why are you allowing all of this to happen to me?"
I'm not very happy about being unemployed, although through various sources of provision we should be able to make it OK financially while I am getting further training, until God opens up the next door of employment. I am currently taking the second Cisco course during the Winter Term at LBCC, and I'm planning on taking the third and fourth courses, along with a couple of other useful computer classes, during the Spring Term, which ends the first week of June. A lot can happen between now and then, so we will see how it goes.
I do kind of regret that we bought a house in February 2009. If I had known that I would lose my job by the end of the year, I don't think I would have done that. When you are renting, it is much easier to pull up stakes and move to wherever the next job is. But now that we have staked our claim here in Albany, I'm feeling like we need to stay where we are planted and have put down roots, and make our stand here. Unless, of course, God clearly shows us that we need to sell the house and move somewhere else. Just the thought of doing that seems overwhelming, but I suppose it wouldn't be any worse than the move we made in 1998 when we moved from Switzerland to California ... now THAT was a long-distance move!
One tremendous blessing is that we do not have ANY debt. Our house is completely paid for, our two cars are completely paid for, our credit cards are completely paid off each month. We have zero debt. Since this is not the case with many Americans, we are very, very thankful for this huge and rare blessing. As it says in Romans 13:8, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another." That holy debt is one we will be working on paying this year and the rest of our lives.
Over the past week as I keep looking at Psalm 116, one verse continually sticks out:
"Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you."
This article is 1st a series of articles on this Web site related to My Journey with Yeshua (Jesus)
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