“We’ve decided to make a change; we are going to go in a different direction”.
And with those words it was pretty much all over. As of 4:30 pm Monday afternoon I was officially among the ranks of the unemployed. The company I had been with for the last few years was making some changes and I was part of the change. All that was left was to pack my office and shut the door behind me on the way out.
The rest of the storm that was Monday is a bit of a blur, first me telling the news to my wife and then the two of us telling our three kids in the first and possibly last “official Phinney family meeting” we will ever have. Texting my pastor on the way home and asking for prayer as well ongoing texts and emails with some now former coworkers who I wanted to hear the news from me and not some sterile company email the following day, the kind of emails I used to write and always knew they raised more questions than they ever answered. Then later that night the phone call to my parents to talk with my dad and overhearing parts of my wife’s similar call with her mother. How do you explain to your parents that you just lost your job? One thing I do remember from Monday night, aside from the rock solid support and faith from my wife and family, is one of the text messages from my pastor Scot that said “while this may have been a surprise to you, it was not to God”.
Not a surprise to God.
I needed to hear that and be reminded that this was part of the plan, maybe not how I would have scripted it, but I’m not the writer. In fact, this whole week has been one example after another about God’s will in our lives. Like your opinion of the weather, it’s only a storm if you decide to call it one.
The events of this week really started on Sunday in the adult study class at our church I have the privilege to facilitate. We are discussing John Ortberg’s amazing book If You Want to Walk on Water You Have to Get Out of the Boat. If you have not read it I highly recommend it. Our discussion on Sunday morning was about using the gifts God has given you and having the faith to step out of the boat and onto the water like Peter did. To become water walkers. Our study class was followed by a worship message from our pastor that continued to reinforce the message of being bold and stepping out for God’s purpose. Sunday afternoon my wife and I went for a walk and ended up at the beach at the lake near our house for a long talk about our lives and how we both are feeling that God is laying it on our hearts to reach out for him. For me the call is related to church planting and ministry. It was amazing to see how we each were reaching the same thoughts and conclusions independent of each other. Our agreement was solid evidence that we were clearly on the right path and God was working in both our hearts and minds.
Then came Monday.
Even in the challenge that was Monday night for our family the recurring theme was not one of panic or crisis mentality. Rather it was one of faith and trust that while difficult and clearly different for our family, the sky was not falling, the world was not ending, we would survive intact and come out stronger for it. Stronger together. One interesting side note; somewhere in the middle of Monday night while my family and I were dealing with the fall-out from my sudden job loss, A Million Points of Grace received its 1,000th follower. Even in the storms of life and chaos we see, God always is at work.
Tuesday arrived and my wife received her daily emailed verse of the day from Air 1 Radio:
“He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding then close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young”. Isaiah 40:11 (New Living Translation)
The right verse at the right time.
On Wednesday morning one of the daily devotions that are emailed me had the following as the subject verse.
“And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done.” Matthew 21:21 (The Amplified Bible)
The right verse at the right time.
Are you seeing the pattern yet?
This week it’s been easy to think that our problems are monumental and insurmountable, and while they are significant, they are not overwhelming. Our family budget has undergone a radical liposuction to be sure but we are not underwater. Our God is in control. The same God that is our shepherd and will hold us close to his heart also is the God that has empowered us with the ability to move mountains into the sea on command. In the natural our week has been rather crappy, alright it’s been really, really, REALLY crappy, but in the supernatural it has God’s fingerprints all over it and is leading us in directions we never would have dreamed off. God’s doing a new thing with our family and new things while sometimes a bit frightening are cool.
Instead of me spending this week telling God how big my problem was, I have been telling my problem how big my God is.
So what is next for me? Where this leads my family and I do not know. Our call to service is louder now than ever. The task of job hunting in this economy is a challenge and we pray it is a short-term search. I am greatly appreciative of your prayers in support of myself and my family.
Like Peter my family and I have stepped out of the boat and onto the water. We have become water walkers.
And from out here on the water the weather is just fine.