Month: March 2014

When I Was a Cable Guy, I Discovered True Joy

Two months from getting married I discovered the job I was hoping to get was not going to happen. I had this whole plan worked out. I was going to work at my college for a couple of years so then I could get my masters degree for free. Sixteen years later and I am “masterless”. I know that is probably not a word. So, my brother-in-law had just got this job as a supervisor for a cable company and he offered me a job as one of his installers. I know what you are all thinking, “This guy is crazy! You never take a job working for a family member and on top of that, a cable guy?” Almost straight out of the movies.

I went to “cable guy school” to get my certificate as an installer and complete my pole-climbing training. The pole-climbing thing was actually pretty awesome, once I got over my fear of heights. I really did not have a choice in the matter because I just got married and had nothing else lined up. One of the guys in my class actually did not make it. The thought of it alone can freak you out. The only thing suspending you in the air is two metal spikes that go into the pole only about a half-inch.

I met a lot of interesting people while I was installing cable service and disconnecting service for those who did not pay their bill. Probably the most interesting situation I came across was in a very low income part of town. Most of the time, as you can imagine, that is where our disconnections happened, but this one was actually an install. I pull up, grab a cable box and all my tools to do the job, not really thinking much about where I am.

As I begin my work I begin to feel that something is just not right about this situation. Not in a scary sort of way but in a more… depressing way. I was becoming acutely aware of the living situation of the people I was serving. I had seen plenty of unkept houses before. Some people just don’t like to clean or organize, but this, this, was very different. It was not about cleanliness, it was about the well-fare and unhealthy living environment. I am sure it had never been vacuumed, mopped, or swept. There were numerous kids running around who probably had not had a bath in weeks and clothes on that were just as bad. Who knows when the last time was that they had a decent meal? There was a hole in one of the exterior walls about the size of one of those large foursquare balls.

I could not believe that people would do that. Drop $80 on and install for cable and not even feed their kids, fix the hole in the wall, or something else. The least they could have done was waited for one of our free install offers. I actually began to get angry about the situation.  Everything inside me wanted to just walk out, not do the job, and tell them to fix the whole in the wall, buy some clothes, buy food and clean up their life.  Instead I had to do my job and I left dumbfounded. “God, why do people do that?” I asked. I was so angry and broken inside at the same time.

But, you know what I learned? What is the difference between them and that huge house that I was just at?

You can have everything, but still have nothing.  You can have nothing and want everything.

Or better yet, what is the difference between them and me or between you and them?

We all try to fill that hole in our home and in our hearts with joys other than the ultimate joy, God’s joy. Their’s was just out in the open. Ours we hide it, or justify it. We miss the abundant life Jesus came to give us because we allow the cares of this world to distract us away from the deep unconditional love the Father has waiting for us.

Jesus said, “As the Father has love me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my Father’s commands, you will remain in HIS love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:9-11 Emphasis mine)

HIS LOVE = COMPLETE JOY!

Our place in this world is not defined by the job we do.  It is not defined by how much we accomplish.  It is even not defined by how much we do for God.  We must remember that there is nothing we can do to earn grace.  But what about the Father’s commands?  Jesus told us the greatest commandment is to love God completely with all we have.  Our place in this world is simply this… Remain in HIS Love.  In that love we find true Joy and contentment.  And like the prophet Jeremiah if we try to keep God’s word, his wonders, and his love to ourselves we will grow weary of holding it in.  “Indeed I cannot!”  It will burn inside you like a fire deep in your bones.  Once we experience the true joy that comes from God alone we share the burden of Christ to give the most life-giving message of hope the world will ever know.

I Really Need a Ride Home

There have been moments in my life were I cannot really explain why, or how I just knew I was supposed to do something.  Of course, it was God who was asking me to do that something.  These moments are the out of the ordinary kind and there have not been that many of them.

Now to understand me a little more you need to realize that I can be a bit of a cynical, sarcastic, jerk!  I have a tendency to discount the supernatural, probably because of my history with it.  I love the fact that I have a Pentecostal background, but I was also really hurt by it.  When I was young I always felt this pressure to receive the “gift of speaking in tongues” because then I could somehow be “closer” to God.  I have seen people “slain in the spirit”, “speak in tongues”, “interpretations”, “healings”, and many other things.  Some I believe to be legitimate, others I am not so sure.  I believe God uses all the gifts of the spirit today.  Experiencing all these things have made me who I am today so I am grateful for it all.  It caused me to really searched the bible hard to find answers and I questioned God about it constantly.

All that to say… when I feel like God is asking me to do something I wrestle with it for quite a while.  It is kind of hard to explain what is going on inside me besides the fact that my heart begins to race and I get sick to my stomach.  In fact, the more I fight it the more I realize that I need to do what God is placing on my heart.

I was in college and I am not really sure what time it was other than the fact that it was late.  I started to feel that God was asking me to go for a drive because He wanted to talk to me or show me something.

How weird is that?

So, immediately I started to question and fight it.  You can imagine all the thoughts going through my head.  Why can’t you just tell me or show me right here?  Why do I need to go for a drive?  Where am I supposed to go?

Ok the beach.  But why the beach?  What am I supposed to do when I get there?  I am not jumping in the water or anything.

Then these words just hit me like a thud to the heart.

Trust me.  Now why did He have to pull out the trust me card?

Are you serious? I trust you, but this is crazy!  Go for a drive to the beach!  That’s it?

Fine, whatever!

I get in my truck and start heading towards the beach.  I am trying to do all the things I think God wants me to do.  I turn off my music.  I am quiet for a while.  I pray.  I try to listen.

I wait…  Nothing.

Ok so maybe He will speak to me when I get to the beach.  I get there.

I wait…  Nothing.

Great!  You had me come down here for…  What?  I am really trying God.

I continue to drive around waiting for whatever it is He wants to tell me or show.  At this point I am thinking to myself I am crazy.

Then out of nowhere this lady starts waving frantically at me.  I am thinking to my self there is no way I am stopping, but she does seem pretty distraught.  God this is not why you brought me down here.  There is now way.  Did I mention she seemed really distraught?  So, I reach over and roll down my window to see what she has to say.  Of course, she wants a ride home.

Now let me pause for a moment and say this.  Every thought went through my mind of why I should not give her a ride home.  I don’t know her, she could be crazy, you never give someone a ride home, especially some of the opposite gender, and a myriad of other thoughts as you can only imagine.  Against all that I was taught, against all I thought I knew to believe was the right thing to do, against the rational thing to do, I end up giving her a ride home. I know it just seems stupid and I am not in any way recommending you drive around the beach and see if someone waves you down to give them a ride home.

Remember what I said at the beginning of this chapter?  I am a cynical sarcastic jerk and I have a real hard time just accepting things like this, but it was one of those rare moments that for the strangest of reasons I was supposed to give this person a ride home.  And what happens next… is pretty amazing.

I am thinking to myself, the only way to make this drive sane and safe is to figure out the fastest way to let this lady know I am a Christian.

She gets in my truck, starts ranting on about how her friends are jerks and then asks me something to the effect of what I am doing down there.

My quick thoughts were, do I tell her and freak her out?  Sure why not!  After all, this is already weird.  So I tell her a much shorter version of what I just told you.  To my surprise she didn’t freak out at all.  She began to tell me about her life and how it was a bit a mess.  She told me how her marriage wasn’t doing well and she used to go to church then stopped.  By the time I drop her off, she thanked me for the ride and let me know she was going to start going back church.  I never really knew what came of this.  I guess I learned something very simple yet profound.

It is better to obey than to sacrifice.