Monday, September 9, 2013

And the Lord Provided (Part 1)

 (submitted by Kerry Patton)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Arise and Go
In 1989, after finishing undergraduate school, it was time to head off to seminary.  Yet, I felt strongly that I was to move to College Station, Texas.  The reason being, there was a church there that had grown from being an 8 member startup into a thriving 2,000 member congregation in only 8 years.  The church pastor invited me to come and be a part of what God was doing there, learn from what I experienced, and see if I could then transplant that back into the congregations I had been pastoring.  It would delay my graduate theological studies for a year or two, but it was a very unique opportunity… So, rather than move to seminary, I moved to College Station.

Broken Down and Broke
When I announced my decision to move to College Station, many were the voices of doubt.  My parents questioned the decision, as did my in-laws.  What would I do?  How would I survive?  Where would we live?  Why was I doing this?

The voice of the Lord seemed very clear when I decided to move, but I began to doubt my own decision when I moved my family there and began to try to find a means to support us.
I filled out dozens of applications and got no call backs.  It was a college town, and it was summertime.  Businesses weren’t hiring.  Finally, a Christian private school that was interviewing to fill a position for an administrator/director called and said they thought I was a very good fit.  I had attended a first interview that went very well and was invited to return for an interview with the board of directors.

Driving to that meeting, at what seemed to be the worst of times, my car broke down in the middle of an intersection in Bryan, Texas.  It was a burning hot August afternoon.  A man in a white pickup offered to pull my car out of the intersection, and did with his truck.  I offered to compensate him for his trouble, believing that my good shepherd would say “No, that’s alright” and go about his way.  Opening my wallet, I pulled out what was the only bill I had.  I stress: it was the ONLY bill I had: $20.  The man snapped the twenty from my hand and walked away leaving me there beside the road with an empty wallet, and a broken car. 

Unexpected Help
I looked around to see what I was going to do next.  This was before the days of cell phones, and I needed to call for someone to come and help me.  I felt so defeated and lost.  My car was broken, my wallet was now empty, and I was missing the interview of the only solid job lead I had. 

Across a vast parking lot was the sun bleached sign of a local Radio Shack.  I could see the lights were on inside, so I headed in that direction.  By the time I got there, I was dripping with sweat and must have been a sight.  I walked in the front door and a young man in his early twenties greeted me.  I explained my plight and he offered the store telephone to call for help. 

While I waited for help to arrive, the young man asked me where I was headed.  “Oh, that’s the best part…” I said. “I’m desperately trying to find a job, and I was headed to an interview with the board of a private school.  I’m pretty sure they’re not going to hire me now that I’ve stood them up.”  The young man replied: “You need a job?  We just had a guy quit and need to hire right now!”

He reached under the counter and handed me an application to fill out.  Then he disappeared into the back of the store, quickly returning with the manager.  I was briefly interviewed by the manager who then asked me if I could start on Monday.  I had a job.  The Lord Jehovah Jireh provides!  Amen?

BUT WAIT…There’s More!
About a year later, the very individual who had conducted my first interview for the private school job came into the Radio Shack where I had been hired.  We recognized each other immediately.  She inquired as to why I had never shown up for the interview; adding “…But you know what?  It’s actually a blessing that you didn’t get hired!  Only recently, we learned that the members of the board were embezzling from the school and had been looking for a scapegoat to pen it on…which they subsequently tried to do to the individual which had been hired in your place!”  While that man had eventually come out clean, it had been a nightmare of legal snags, stress, and heated conflict.

I stood there and considered the events that had brought me to that place. God KNEW that I needed a job.  He also knew that I didn’t need that administrator/director job.  I have no doubt…no doubt whatsoever…that God killed my car there in the middle of the intersection by that Radio Shack; not only to place me in front of a manager who needed to hire an employee right that day, but also to protect me from an evil that I was completely oblivious to. 

Does our God work in mysterious ways?  Yes he does!  Is our God faithful to provide for our needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus? Yes he is!

Almighty God, so often we cry out to you for you to change our circumstances, or to take away our struggle.  We are confused when we suffer loss or trouble.  Looking back, we can see how you were carefully plotting our course toward your provision.  Thank you, Father.  Thank you.  Continue to lead us, and help us when we can’t trace your hand, to trust your heart.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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