My previous post, The Window, is a story that I brewed up from the grounds of daily living. If you are a regular reader, you know that I’m unemployed, busy pursuing both a long-term ministry position and some kind of temporary job to pay the bills. I’m entering my ninth month of unemployment, with no tangible leads.
Simultaneous to my exhausting search for work, I’m studying the old testament book of Isaiah. The prophet waxes (perhaps too eloquently) on the failings of Israel and Judah. What was once a strong and unified people of God, became two fractured enemy kingdoms too often dancing like stringed puppets to the whim of corrupt foreign powers. The tribes were facing desperate times. The threat of annihilation was real and camped just beyond their walls. Poverty, hunger and disease were daily realities. The people and their leaders had to constantly ask themselves, what should we do, where is the way out?
Making major life choices is hard enough in the best of times. How much more difficult it is to make choices in desperate times! I know something about this. Every month that I remain unemployed I have less money to pay for essentials. Though I’m doing everything I can to find work, I can’t pull a job out of a hat like a magician pulls out a rabbit. As discouraging and scary as my situation can be, I am bolstered by the clear and redundant message of Isaiah — rely on God alone; he is your only salvation!
I am not holier than you. Relying on the Lord alone is extremely difficult, perhaps the most challenging thing I’ve ever attempted. I’m tempted to do everything and anything but trust in God. Like a phony fortune-teller, our culture tries to seduce me into believing that my own abilities will save me. She urges me to look for easy ways out, as though the answer to all my problems is painted on the crystal ball below the tip of her very crooked nose. I’m surrounded by all kinds of mirages that glitz and woo me with false promises of relief, freedom and prosperity. I know something about this too.
Last month I got a job offer from a wonderful non-profit in my area. They do good, just work and I enjoyed each person I met. But as I progressed through the process, I had a growing awareness that no matter how good, this work was not for me. Warnings about my personal wellness flashed in my stomach like neon burns the Vegas sky. Valid concerns outweighed even my sense of financial need. It took many days and several gasping breaths to coach myself into turning down the job. I hung up the phone and immediately said, “I’m crazy, I’m crazy, I’m crazy.”
I know very well that it doesn’t make sense to turn down a job that does good work when you are running out of money in a terrible economy. It doesn’t make sense, unless of course, you know that God is calling you to something else, (even when you don’t know what that something is). I’m sure I seem stupid to those who don’t believe in God. Even to some Christians my actions probably seem crazy. Sometimes I even scratch my head as I dare to live my life relying on God as my sole salvation. I don’t know how this is all going to work out but I’m clinging to the belief that God has something better for me. I’m not going to do something stupid like jump from a deadly height or break through glass to create my own imperfect escape, like the first two women in The Window. Instead, I’m waiting and trusting, hoping and praying like God told his people to do through the prophet Isaiah. Like a wobbly toddler clutching the strong fingers of a parent, I’m holding onto the belief that God’s ways are safer and smarter than the world’s ways and, well, perfect. This is crazy living, but despite my tenuous situation, I can still sing and laugh and I have joy. So it must be a good kind of crazy.
To be continued.