Seeing God in any circumstance

Posted: September 13, 2012 in Uncategorized
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I had promised to interview my wife , to let her express her own thoughts of living with cancer, but that will have to wait. Yesterday she woke up feeling all-over sore and achy, and found she was running a low fever. A quick phone call, followed by a quick trip to the hospital (glad its only 20 minutes away!) and some blood work, and we had a scrip for antibiotics and orders for bedrest and fluids. At least (so far) she is not being admitted…but if the fever doesn’t break today, she will be. That’s why I’m home from work today, just in case. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, and she won’t have to delay the next chemo treatment, scheduled for Monday.

A few words about my employer…I have to praise the Lord for bringing me to this company. I have been working in commercial HVAC for nearly twenty years, but never been at any one job three years. Most of that is my fault…I spent a long time living away from God, and running my life to ruin in drugs, affairs, and all sorts of behaviors guaranteed to stifle any potential for success you may have. Even after I got sober and got back to Him, I still had some messed-up attitudes and habits that I needed to get clear of, so I could be the kind of employee God wants me to be, to have His approach to work. The apostle Paul sums this up so neatly in his letter to the church at Colosse, in chapter 3, verses 23-23:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

It can be very hard to keep a humble attitude, because they pay me to be hard-nosed and forceful, to get the job done as quickly, as well, and as low-cost as possible. (I could write a whole ‘nother post on the algebra of “Good/Fast/Cheap” construction practices…suffice to say it is not simple math!) And they pay me pretty well, because I am pretty good at what I do. Probably the only thing “holding back” my career is my insistence that life contains more than just a job; that there is room in life to do more than make money. To their credit, the people I work for actually support that idea, and go above and beyond to accommodate employees whose vision extends beyond a paycheck. Let me give some specific examples.

I participate in the Kairos Prison Ministry (more about them here), and I take several days off twice a year to spend in the prison we serve at.  I also reserve several Saturdays for training meetings in the weeks preceding a Weekend. My service there predates this current job, and became a factor when I interviewed for the position: I was two weeks away from a prison week when hired, and told them I still intended to be gone three days, my second week of employment…and they agreed. They even went so far as to delay the start of the project until the week I would be back!  Only by the grace of God does an opportunity like that come around, and only a fool does not recognize a gift when it’s presented to him. I have been a fool in the past, and cannot claim that my foolish days are done, but this one time at least, I saw it and I received it. Since then, I have tried very hard to be the best employee I can be, and they in turn have shown great favor on me – my salary has gone up 25% in two years; I have never had to miss a ministry event because of work, and I now receive assignments to marquee-level projects (my next building has already been written up in the corporate newsletter, and will be entered for consideration in several award categories upon completion.) And they have been absolutely wonderful during Karen’s illness. I ran out of PTO days back in June, so my absences are now unpaid, and we are living on about 40% of my previous income. It’s tight (eeek!), but it’s sufficient. More importantly,  I am maintaining our health insurance. (never knew I could learn to love the words, “annual out-of-pocket limit exceeded” ) The company has guaranteed me that minimum, whether I work or not, until her treatment is complete. And why is this? There are two kinds of reasons, I think: I believe it is largely because I can see God working in all of this, because I do see Him moving, and I openly give Him glory for doing so. I’m not unique, lots of people praise God for good things. But that is where many people stop, and I feel there is more to it. The other, not-so-obvious reason I have the success I do is because I don’t care if I am successful…I care if I am faithful. To me, one of the distinctives of  Christianity is that we are not going to be judged on what or how much we produced, but by how well we obeyed. The words of our Lord ring hard in my ears, whenever I have a choice between doing what’s best for me, or doing what He wants me to do (and you have to understand that those will not always look the same, from our perspective…that’s what faith really means.) In John 13:17, Jesus has just demonstrated servant leadership, and then He tells the disciples,

“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

The implication is that blessings are missed if I do not follow His example and His leadership. I won’t necessarily die or anything, but He is sure to be less than pleased with me. Because of His love and His sacrifice on my behalf, I find myself unwilling to displease Him, so I follow, hard, after Him.

You should, too. Reach out, He is there. What do you have to lose, compared with everything to gain?

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