Following God into the im-possible
“Your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it,’ when you turn to the right or the left (Isa. 30:21).”
Today, I feel led to share a very personal story with you. And as I do, I feel my vulnerability.
It came to me again over the weekend. We were spending time with friends, sharing our journeys, our stories, and in the telling of this particular piece, I saw how much it blessed and strengthened their hearts in the hearing. Just as it did our own in the telling.
It got me to thinking. Perhaps there’s one of you-all that needs the comfort and the truth that’s contained in this part of our history.
As I jump in, I want to state clearly that I am not interested in casting blame or making accusations. That is not my focus or intent, which are, rather, what GOD did in us and through us and then FOR us. And all of that, far more than what people did TO us. Here goes.
Mr. Schrock and I were raised in a religious system. There was much in it that was good, but there were some big, significant components that were not. It was a system that required adherence to a list of rules; literally, printed lists in black and white of entertainment taboos, Sabbath activities/taboos, clothing requirements/taboos, etc., upon all of which was based one’s membership and good standing in the congregation. Salvation by faith in Jesus Christ was, of course, required and taught, but still, that list of rules.
Anyway. After we were married and had one of our sons, we moved away to a different town, different state so that Mr. Schrock could go to college. He earned a degree in accounting, a far different field from the factory jobs he had always had. And the blue-collar man entered the white-collar world.
After some time in that world, it became clear that the firm he was with would not provide what he needed to support our family. Once tax season was over, his hours and salary declined. Steeply, and we struggled to make two ends meet.
He looked and looked and looked for another job. And interview after interview after really good interview in his plain suit, he would be turned away, declined. At last, one interviewer had the guts to say, “I can’t tell if you’re being trendy (at the time, you could buy straight-cut suits in the store) or if you’re making a religious statement.”
We prayed and sought God’s face. We sought counsel from our leaders. We took our time. “Please!” I remember asking God repeatedly, “If we are headed down a dangerous road, close the door!”
To make a very long and painful story short, and so as not to dredge up things that ought to stay buried, the wearing of a necktie as a uniform for the new job that God provided (for it was the only one that opened up) sparked a great controversy in the church. And this conscientious, super-sensitive rule follower and firstborn girl found herself at the center of an uproar. So very hard for a people pleaser, I can tell you.
What happened next was devastating. For right on the heels of this tempest, my husband lost his job. Fired for “incompetence.” We were stunned. Dumbfounded. Crushed, for never had there been any indication to that point that his performance was less than satisfactory.
I’m sure you can guess what folks said. “See what happens…?”
(Years later, we learned that it was human interference that led to his dismissal, and a non-Christian boss, afraid of a religious discrimination lawsuit, abruptly terminated his employment. But God is never limited by the ferocity of the opposition.)
Now, the firing came right.in.the.middle of buying and selling houses. It was the worst possible time to lose a job, human-ly speaking. (But when has God ever cared about what looked impossible? About how things looked to His humans?)
For three months, Mr. Schrock was unemployed. In a time when manufacturing was booming, he simply could not get a job. Nowhere. Nothing. Knocking, knocking, knocking on doors, everywhere, anywhere, but nothing opened up.
It was a time of great loss, not just financially, but relationally. We felt rejection in a way heretofore unknown, and it stung like fire.
Then one day, the telephone rang, and a company he had never heard of, was calling, requesting an interview. He took the interview, got the job, and–this is a part I want you to catch…
It offered better pay and better benefits than the job that he had lost.
And we gave thanks.
The capstone on this particular chapter came a couple months into the new job. For one day, the receptionist called back to his desk to say, “Could you come up front? Mr. So-and-so is here to see you.”
He left his desk and went out to find a perfect stranger standing there. Who introduced himself, shook his hand, and said about three sentences. “I’m __, the guy they hired to replace you (at the job you lost). I just wanted to tell you, you must’ve had some job offer to make you leave…
“Because your work papers were perfect.” And he left.
What a tender, loving gesture from a tender, mercy-full Father. For after guiding one of His own through the furnace, He sent a messenger with a word of hope that re-stored such a wounded place in his soul.
To this day, I am not sure if it was truly a human, or if it was an angel sent by God. What I do know is that when my husband tells the story, he always says, “It was like God said to me, ‘Grant, there is nothing wrong with you. This was just My way of leading you on to the next thing.’”
See what happens when you cast your lot in obedience? When you give your allegiance, first, to Christ? When you trust Him and obey?
Not once did we go hungry. Not once did a bill go unpaid. Every need was met and provided, and we now put down this stone for a monument: “For this God is our God forever and ever. He will guide us to the end (Ps. 48:14).”
God was faith-full to us then. God is faith-full to us now, and we know that God will be faith-full to us all the way to the end.
He is worthy of our trust.