So I’m sitting here at my computer in Orrville, Ohio, finishing up the last twenty minutes of my lunch break and wondering, like I have so many times in the past few months, where this strange journey is taking me. At the end of February, I made a painful decision to leave the seminary that I had been attending for what I thought was only going to be a quarter. My wife has had some serious medical issues and I was simply not sure if I could go on in school full-time without providing meaningful income to my family. It turns out, I was more than right.
Leaving the seminary created a ripple effect that I had not anticipated. Because I was no longer a student, student loans could not cover my rent. My wife exhausted all of her short-term disability and we had to COBRA her health care. All of a sudden, I had over $1100 a month going out and not near enough income to cover it all.
I felt punched in the stomach. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me and I was left in the air waiting to fall flat on my butt. My wife’s stepfather stepped in and offered us some much assistance in living with them and helping me some with finances and setting up a budget. I had secretly vowed never to move in with them. I mean, really, who wants to live with their in-laws? My wife contends that we had no choice. I reminded her that we always have a choice, but sometimes the options that you have make it very obvious the route that you should choose. So here I sit, working for Smuckers in a position that was not even on the radar two months ago. I still wonder where all of this is going to take me. It has legitimately left me looking at the sky asking God why. I think that many people think that questioning God is wrong. I am not one of those. Questioning God is not the issue. It is when your faith is so weak that you no longer trust in God. To pray to God and ask Him what He is doing is simply not wrong. It is a product of our humanity.
Almost every morning when I get in the shower and that hot water hits my back, I begin to think about the day and what it might bring. Sometimes I am quiet and just let the water run down my back. Sometimes I get vocal, questioning what in the world is going on. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I question my calling, question what on earth I am doing. I confess, sometimes I worry. I mean, after all, when you look at this messed-up situation from a human perspective, there is a lot to worry about. Job security, making enough to pay the bills, forming a budget, making enough money that I am no longer living with my in-laws, Kandice’s health, our marriage, my health, my stress, the war in Iraq, deaths in the families of friends, politics, religion, Christianity…I could go on and on. I guess when all the conjecturing is through, you come down to only one issue: Where do you place your faith?
If I place my faith in anything but God, I am just simply wrong. The whole thing would be pointless then, wouldn’t it? Most of these things I cannot control even if I wanted to. I guess I really do not have to worry after all. Despite what some would believe, even former pastors of mine, God is in control…of everything. Did it ever occur to you that nothing ever occurred to God? It’s not an easy belief, is it? To think that God knew that almost 3,000 people would die on 9/11 and He seemed to do nothing about it is hard, isn’t it? To think that thousands lost their life from a tsunami and God seemed to do nothing is hard. You often want to ask just what in the world is going on?
I offer no answers, no conjecturing, no speculation, only some wise words from the Apostle Paul: “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?”
As always, especially after every shower I take and prayer I make, I am left with no further answers that the ones I started with.