Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
- 2 Timothy 2:8-13
“I have a friend who during the depression lost his job, a fortune, a wife, and a home. But he tenaciously held to his faith – the only thing he had left. One day he stopped to watch some men doing stonework on a huge church. One of them was chiseling a triangular piece of stone. ‘What are you going to do with that?’ asked my friend. The workman said, ‘See that little opening away up there near the spire? Well, I’m shaping this down here, so it will fit in up there.’ Tears filled the eyes of my friend as he walked away, for it seemed that God had spoken through the workman to explain his ordeal through which he was passing. ‘I’m shaping you down here, so you’ll fit in up there.’”
- Billy Graham, Day by Day with Billy Graham, (July 31)
When I was a young Christian, I saw great things in my future. I was full of potential. I had brains. I had the desire. Nothing could stop me. Okay, I had practically no money, but why worry about that?
My wife said a couple of years ago, “From the point when we got married until you got out of the military, everything that you touched turned to gold. Ever since then, everything that you touched turned to something else. I don’t think that I have ever seen anyone with more lousy luck than you.”
It is so nice getting words of encouragement like that from someone that I love.
But I could look back. I shouldn’t. Lot’s wife looked back, and it did not turn out well for her.
If I never had a military commitment, my career in a small petrochemical company was skyrocketing, and my doctoral dissertation research was half complete, at least the experimentation was already done. I had all of the writing and citations to go. When I left the military, my old department at the chemical company was dissolved. I had no job to go back to, but my research had been making money for the company.
But after the army, I had a long string of “the bosses from hell,” with one or two exceptions. I got several of the bad bosses promoted, but each forgot who contributed to their promotion (like Joseph while in prison), bosses filled with their own hubris, thinking that they got there on their own steam.
I wrote recently about being out of work for an entire year. If any of the job opportunities, or early interviews, had turned into a job, who knows what might have happened.
But the problem of asking “what if…” when looking backward is that the “what if…” did not happen. God put me in this place at this time.
Why? The Billy Graham story says it better than I could say it. God is shaping me down here, so that I will fit in up there.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.