Be Thankful in All Things

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Col 3:17

Thanksgiving holiday is over.  My wife and I had a great time up here is Evansville Indiana where I am in the fourth month of a six month programming contract at a major financial company specializing in personal loans.  We ordered a complete holiday meal from a nearby Bar-B-Que restaurant which was quite delicious and we talked about what we were thankful for, which is a tradition for Thanksgiving Day just after the meal.  I am going to be completely honest, I did not feel all that thankful for my circumstances.

In March of this year, the company I had been working at for almost fifteen years decided to let me go.  This company, headquartered in Amsterdam with over 40 branch companies throughout the world decided to consolidate all computer processes into one, based in Amsterdam.  Because of this they began eliminating positions in the IT department and it finally was my turn.  I did receive twenty weeks severance with the continuation of insurance, but it was not what I had hoped for.  My plans were to retire from the company in July of 2019 with a decent retirement savings while preparing for the next phase of my life, which is some form of full-time ministry.

So I started by looking for contract COBOL programming positions in Atlanta, however, there were absolutely no positions available because companies were switching to more modern languages which gave them more flexibility in what they can offer.  I forwarded many resumes’ to recruiting firms all over to no avail.  I was not interested in moving because I was already settled in North Georgia.  I tried everything.  I finally received a call from a company in Texas resulting in an interview.  I seemed to answer their questions well and they seemed interested.  Received a call in a couple days and they decided to move a current employee into the position and therefore did not need my services.  This happened several times before finally acquiring a six month contract here in Indiana.

My first couple of weeks were incredibly tough.  There were no projects for me to work on and I spent my time trying to be busy.  I went out on their systems to acquaint myself with how they do things, but after a while, there was not much more to see.  Besides, much of it was protected so I had no access.  I began wondering why I was there since there was not enough work to go around.  I began getting frustrated with my situation and that frustration slowly turned toward God. Work though has picked up which makes it much easier.  Outside of work, we found a church here to attend and we have become involved in several fellowship groups.  However, my disappointments regarding the dreams I had were overshadowing everything else. It seemed that my dreams were fading away.

Throughout this process, I was struggling with sleep.  I found myself waking up between 2 and 3 AM every morning.  I would lay there doing everything I could think of to go back to sleep, but to no avail.  I would just think about how things just were going downhill quickly.  One night about a month ago around 3 AM, I felt compelled to pray.  However, the focus of my prayers were on ‘why’. Why was I here?  Why is this happening?  Why can’t I pursue my dreams?  I never actually prayed those words, but they were in the background.  However, I knew He heard them whether I said them or not.

This pattern continued for several weeks.  I would wake up and start praying which would help me fall asleep.  I found myself having more peace, which was exactly what I needed.  Then God started dealing with me.  He was not harsh or mean, but gentle and kind.  He made it clear to me that this may not have been my plan but it was His plan.  I was not ready for my calling, I had so much to learn. Ministry is so much more than I could ever know and He showed me that very clearly.  He opened my eyes to the struggles many people are going through.  One of those is a man named John.  I met him on the street outside of the Starbucks near our house.  He was sitting on a small stool asking for help.  Linda and I bought a Burger King lunch for him.  He was also given a small bag of groceries by two young women.  He seemed shocked, but as we were leaving he called out to us ‘God Bless’.  After that time, I have seen him at various times at the Starbucks where he will be sitting outside with a cup of coffee.  I always make it a point to shake his hand if I see him, sit with him for a time , just talking.  I also buy him something there if he wants and if I have any cash, I will give it.  He has no one in the area, but a kind man who is fixing up houses across the street is allowing him to stay in one of his houses.  He at least has a place to get out of the cold.  No one pays him any attention.  So God told me to go.

This is just one of the things He is showing me.  There are so many others that it would be difficult to list them all.  But the point is I do not know what He has in store for me, but it may be so much more than what I anticipated.  My dreams seemed so big, but they may be small compared to what He has planned.  I have no idea where this is going, but I am learning to be thankful for things that I would never thought to be thankful for.  We need to be thankful for everything even though it is not want we would want.  But everything God brings our way is something to be thankful for, because we have no idea where He is taking us.  We may see it as a bad thing, but we must always remember Rom 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”   And if He brings it about, that truly is something to thank Him for.

 

 

 

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