Welcome to Brian's Bits, where Brian gets to share at length about various topics stirring inside of him.
Four Years of Unemployment
20 December 2013
It seems to be my annual ritual now that each December 20th I take some time to reflect on how my life has been going since I lost my job on that day in 2009. These past articles include:
In the early part of this year I thought I had arrived at my last day of unemployment. Unfortunately, that turned into a bizarre meltdown which brought to a sudden end my detour into employment. These traumatic events gave me a lot to ponder and process, which resulted in nine articles on this Web site.
Even though last year was an amazing year of photography, this year has been almost completely opposite. Perhaps it was because last year WAS so photographically intensive — maybe even TOO intensive — that I became somewhat fed up with photography. I have devoted very little time, energy or money to photography in 2013, resulting in the photographic year that wasn't.
Instead, I have been focusing primarily on writing articles for both this Web site and my Your Islamic Future (YIF) site. I've written 45 articles for Brian's Bits this year, while for YIF I produced 43. Even in this low-key photographic year I managed to write 80 articles relating to photography, bringing my total for the year on all three Web sites to a respectable 168 — that's almost one article every-other day.
The goal of my writing this year has not been quantity but quality. Whereas my 175 articles about photography last year were devoted to unimportant temporal, earthly matters, the 88 articles I wrote this year on Brian's Bits and YIF have dealt almost exclusively with eternal, spiritual matters.
Suffering, Martyrdom, and Rewards in Heaven, by Josef (Iosif) Ton, could easliy be the most important book I have ever read, and the best $15 I have ever spent!
This is not the kind of book you can rush through — I have been reading it for six months, and I will finish today! There is a lot to think about and pray about as you work your way through the author's detailed study of what the New Testament teaches about the topics indicated in the book's title. He also touches a bit on the Old Testament and Church history.
God has used this book to transform my relationship with Himself, and to transform my understanding of what it means to be a Christian. It has been an amazing process and experience! Especially during the Autumn months, I felt like I was standing under a waterfall of insight and revelation and closeness to God. But apparently we can't always live on the spiritual mountaintops, and unfortunately I don't seem to be under that spiritual waterfall like I was earlier.
But I'm still pressing into God to the best of my ability. I want to follow Yeshua (Jesus) with my whole heart, and I have to keep reminding myself that following Him is not some sort of spiritual achievement I attain in this life, but it is a life-long process and journey which is centered on Yeshua Himself. It is SO easy to slip into a religious-performance mentality which ends up taking me further from Him rather than bringing me closer.
I believe that in the not-too-distant future, the persecution of Christians which has been going on for decades under Communist, Islamic and other totalitarian regimes will start to be more and more common in the West. Us followers of Yeshua in the West are woefully unprepared for suffering and martyrdom, which will result in a large number of believers falling away from God, as I wrote about recently.
For this season of my life, I feel that God has given me the task of warning everyone, but specifically my fellow believers, about what is coming and also to do what I can to prepare and strengthen them. This work is much more important than merely pursuing a career or playing around with photography, because it is a matter of literal eternal life and death.
At the same time, I am continually asking God to send me out into the Harvest (for the laborers are few), and/or to show me what kind of job He would want me to have and where He would want me to find such a job. I am ready to sell our house and move somewhere else at any time. My life is not my own, but His, therefore I am willing to make whatever changes He wants in my inner or outer life so that I conform to His purposes for me. This life is but a mist which is here one moment and gone the next, so I want to live for eternity and store up treasures in Heaven.
Master Article Index for my three primary Web sites, the most popular article I wrote this year has been Thoreau On Owls, with over 2,300 views. And in an unexpected turn of events, my all-time most-popular article has been my review of a David Grisman concert I attended in Corvallis in 2010 — see Dawg-gone Great! — which now has over 10,000 views! Grisman is still touring, and will be giving two New Year's Eve concerts just up the road in Portland later this month. For whatever reason, that article has been skyrocketing in popularity with thousands of views per month recently.
Meanwhile, like Abraham of old, I am trying to obey and follow God, even though I don't know all the twists and turns and detours of the path on which He is leading me (see Hebrews 11:8-10). Yeshua doesn't merely KNOW the way, but He declared that He Himself IS the Way (see John 14:1-6). Once again my life seems aptly described by the lyrics of the David-Grisman-related Grateful Dead (see Grateful Dawg): "Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me; Other times I can barely see. Lately it occurs to me: What a long, strange trip it's been."
Well, four years of unemployment HAS been a long, strange trip. God has been making this possible by continuing to provide financially for us. Who knows what the future holds? Militant Islam is rising and spreading rapidly around the world. Suffering and martyrdom may be in the not-too-distant future of many followers of Yeshua. I don't have my life all figured out nor my act all together. All I know is that I've given my poor life to God and I continue to ask Him to make something worthwhile, meaningful, productive and beautiful out of it. Time and eternity will tell what His work in my life results in.
There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Yeshua the Messiah is revealed to the whole world. You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him. (1 Peter 1:6b-8a)
My conscience is clear, but that doesn't prove I'm right. It is the Master Himself who will examine me and decide. So don't make judgments about anyone ahead of time — before Yeshua returns. For He will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due. (1 Corinthians 4:4-5)
This article is 25th 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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