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)


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.


  1. Steve says:

    True, true! Rest (Hebrews)… Contentment (I Tim)… Satisfaction (Eccl) with HIS LOVE TOWARD US gives great JOY. I love your keen eyes on this Tony!


  2. PapaDon Sprenger says:

    Good insights Tony, so right on !


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