Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Peace That Passes Understanding

As I mentioned in Tales from the Tummy, my secular career has been in shambles for the past few years. I've had several jobs that did not end the way that I had envisioned. While I would not lie and say that my performances at these positions were perfect, in each case, the companies and departments were in better shape when I walked out the door than when I walked in the door. But in each case, I found myself without employment.

I'm not sure that any woman reading this can fully understand, but those of the male persuasion derive a significant portion of our self-confidence/worth/image/respect/are you getting the point/esteem from our jobs and careers. Add to that the pressure and responsibility of providing for a wife and children, and you can easily see how important a man's job is to him. In my opinion, there are very few things more humiliating to a man than having to inform his family that he has lost his job.

However, at each time that I've been let go, I've been able to respond with a quiet acceptance. No begging or pleading, no crying or hysterics, and without any anger or malice towards the person firing me. I've simply packed up my belongings, said my goodbyes, and left.

And that is where I currently find myself yet again. "Under" employed, working as a temp laborer at a local manufacturing plant, being paid approximately 1/3 of my typical pay. This job was offered to me soon enough after becoming unemployed that I have not filed for unemployment benefits this time. I probably make about the same, but I'd rather work than just sponge off of the system. During a similar time two years ago, I worked for a friend from church who is a builder and hay farmer. Picking up bricks on house sites one day, running a bobcat and delivering hay bales the next day. But it was work, and let me at least keep food on the table.

However, I would be lying if I didn't admit that there are times where I just want to scream. From an intelligence standpoint, there are only a handful of jobs on the planet that I'm not capable of performing. From a dedication standpoint, I've worked ten to twelve hour days as my norm, and have pulled numerous shifts of 18+ hours when some type of emergency happened at the plant. Every time I've left a plant, a majority of my mechanics have told me "when you get to your new job, CALL me, I want to come work for you again". When I walk into any plant, I immediately start spotting the flaws, noticing the safety hazards, and overall seeing all of the ways that I could make improvements. But here I am cleaning up construction sites and performing manual labor. Juggling bills like crazy, trying to keep the lights and water and phone working.

During the Psalm 119 study, one of the questions was to define the word "peace". I spent a lot of time pondering that question and here is the definition that the Holy Spirit gave to me: Fully accepting every aspect of where God has you, while resting in the knowledge that if you trust in Him, and abide in His Word, He will comfort you as He uses you to accomplish His will and bring glory to His name. Note that peace is more about God than it is about you. During the Genesis study, we spent a lot of time studying the life of Joseph. Of all the characters in the Bible, Joseph and Job have to be the ones who demonstrated the most peace in their attitudes and responses to life's difficulties.

No matter how wronged that I feel by being fired, at least I haven't been sold into slavery like Joseph. No matter how bad I feel that I cannot give my children everything that they want, at least I haven't had my children killed like Job. I have yet to find a situation in which I cannot find someone else who has gone through more than I have. And when I read God's Word, I see how He carried them through the tough times of their lives. I've seen Him move in my life, and seen Him carry me through the toughest times of my life. If He's done it before more times than I can count, why would I be so forgetful as to not trust that He'd do it again?

Phillipians 4:4-9 speaks directly to this: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

Note that it verse 7 it's "the peace of God", and in verse 9 He's called "the God of peace". True peace can only come from resting in Him, and only He can give peace, since He is THE God of peace.

Fully accepting every aspect of where God has you, while resting in the knowledge that if you trust in Him, and abide in His Word, He will comfort you as He uses you to accomplish His will and bring glory to His name. Definitely tougher to do than it sounds. When I can't sleep because I'm worrying about the bills. When I get frustrated at work because my pride is acting up. When I get depressed because I open the pantry and feel like Old Mother Hubbard. But He always hears me when I call to Him, and He always comforts me when I rest in Him. I have yet to find a mountain too high or an ocean too great for God to deal with for me. He's my God, and give me peace. How do you get through your days? When the storms come, He's the only One who can say "peace, be still" to the waves and wind.

Ezra 7:10
Prepare, Study, Practice, Teach

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