The day I got fired was a Wednesday.
I had been working at an investment firm while doing unpaid ministry. Mostly visiting elderly shut-ins in the mid-town projects. It was satisfying and soul enriching for me; I can’t speak for them.
Getting fired was a “good news/bad news” experience. I hated the job and it was providing only a meager income, but it was providing a meager income.
Wednesday my wife and I went to Wayne’s World (it was at the $1 theater) and decided, Tara-like, to think about my job tomorrow.
Thursday morning I got up at my over-early customary 4:30am and began my daily devotions. It would be helpful at this point to tell you just a little about my devotional routine.
Being an ADHD poster child, the pious image of kneeling at bedside on camel-like saint knees doesn’t work for me. Instead, I pray as I walk. Back in the early 80’s I learned to put the people I wanted to pray for on index cards and thumb through the cards praying out-loud as I went.
There are few up and around at 4:30am, but those who saw me must have wondered at the strange man wandering around the neighborhood before sun up, talking to himself. I’m sure some of my unknown neighbors referred to me as “Mumbling Guy” or other similar moniker.
After walking each day for an hour or so, I would return to our rented condo to spend time in worship. The laundry was at the opposite end from the bedrooms so I could play my guitar and sing without waking anyone.
Once I had completed some time in worship I would do some Bible study, ending the daily ritual.
This Thursday I prayed for a job. We didn’t have any money and I needed to get to work right away if we were going to survive—two boys under the age of 5 don’t understand not having food to eat.
This Thursday, during worship, I had a distinct impression. I didn’t hear a voice; I wasn’t bombarded by a shaft of light. But suddenly it was as if someone instantly communicated and understanding into my brain. It was like reading a paragraph and grasping its meaning in a tiny fraction of a second.
“God will provide you with a job, just wait on him. He will take care of all your needs just as he did with Elijah.”
I would like to tell you I responded with faith-inspired confidence, knowing my God would provide. I would like to tell you I was moved to tears as I wondered at the awesome love of God.
The truth was I was scared. A part of me knew I would obey this impression, but I also knew I would have to explain to my wife why I wasn’t out beating the bushes. While it wasn’t the first time I believed I heard a message from God, this time it had an impact on my family, not just me.
When I talked to my wife she was pretty calm about the whole thing. We decided to wait until Monday and see what happened. We also agreed to not tell anyone I had been fired or that we had no money.
Friday at 8am I got a call from Donnie. He was a friend from church and worked as a painting contractor. He was short handed and wondered if I could work for him for a day.
This lifted my spirits and faith. I put on my best worst set of clothes—jeans with holes, just not in the naughty parts and my old Garfield sweatshirt.
I typically think too far ahead. As I painted that day I kept imagining my life as a painter. I figured this must be the “God Job” I was supposed to be doing. Sure I was either too slow or too sloppy, and at one point I tracked paint through a living room carpet, but God had told me he would find me a job and now I had one.
At the end of the day we stood by Donnie’s speckled work van and he gave me my “cut”—7 hours at $5 per hour. Yeah, diapers and formula for the weekend!
Then he told me “thanks, we really needed you today. If I need you again I’ll let you know.” Only then did I understand he didn’t give me a Job, just a job.
I went back to the condo, taking this one-day job as a possible sign of God’s provision and hoping I would get a call by Monday offering me a “real” job.
It was a miserable weekend for me, filled with anxiety, hoping somehow God was going to move someone to offer me the perfect job. But no job came. Monday morning, however, did come.
My wife was still asleep as I wrestled with God, the laundry room becoming my own Peniel.
The more I prayed, the more I was convinced I was to wait on God to send me a job. He promised to pay all of our bills, provide all of our needs.
I gave God three parameters.
First, I wasn’t going to ask for money from anyone or even tell anyone we had a need. The only person I was going to ask for help was him.
Second, I wasn’t going to get on any type of charity program—if this was his idea and if he is God, he can take care of our needs.
Third, I wasn’t going to have my wife be responsible for “praying in” our food, utility money, etc. She could come to me when she needed something and I would worry about how to get it.
When my wife awoke I told her of my conviction and she was reluctantly willing to give it a try.
At the time I was still thinking short-term unemployment. A week, maybe two. Little did I know it would be 8 months.