Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lose your Job? God Has Other Plans

Fr. Dale Matson

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (Exodus 20:9, NASB)

The late seventies in the Midwest were a difficult period with a deep recession not experienced in other areas of the U.S. I was a journeyman plumber, heavy equipment operator and soil tester. These were skills that I presumed would always be in demand. The general contractor I worked for usually laid us off in the winter because the severe cold of Wisconsin winters sent concrete-like frost deep into the ground. We had a saying in construction. “We eat steak in the summer and soup in the winter (maybe)”. Because of the recession, residential building nearly came to a standstill and I was not called back from layoff one spring. I had my family in our Ford Fiesta parked outside while I asked my boss for any job available including working in the lumber yard. He simply said there was no work and that I should look elsewhere. I was devastated and angry. Is this what being a new Christian is about God?

I had not finished my bachelor’s degree in the sixty's because I had been drafted out of college my senior year for the Army. The past winter during my final layoff I began a degree completion program and had completed a distance learning course in developmental psychology. When we returned home after my talk with my boss, there was an envelope in the mail box with my final paper and course grade. The writing on my paper from the professor said, “This is the finest paper I have ever read by an undergraduate.” It was an Epiphany for me. God was closing one door and opening another. I believe as it states in Romans, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (8:28, NASB). Another friend from church said to me when I informed him that I no longer had a job, “God must have other plans”.

I am not attempting to preach a prosperity gospel here but I believe that a life dedicated to God will be directed by God. At the time I believed God was quickening a past interest in psychology which was my initial major in college. It was a difficult major and I had convinced myself at the time that I did not have what it takes to become a psychologist. Following not being called back from layoff, I took a job as a psychiatric technician at the county hospital. It was an entry level position at less than one third of what I made in construction. It was starting over but so was my baptism as an adult two years earlier. There was some financial help for veterans but the GI Bill had expired for me. I set my heart on finishing what had been started and found myself to be older than many of my professors. I still had self doubts and the critical voice in my head had to be silenced with “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, NASB).

I eventually wound up directing a graduate training program for returning educational professionals in School Psychology and School Counseling. They too were at a crossroads in their lives. How wonderful it was to hear each story and to welcome them into preparation for a new professional life. I was now a professor at a Christian university with a graduate school mission statement which included, “We are here to extend the Kingdom of God.” As soon as the program prospects understood that God had brought them by crisis to this crossroads, they too saw the unseen hand of God opening a new door and closing an old one. Amen


Dale Matson said...

This is a photograph of me (with the shirt) and Erv D. We were installing a new septic system at a Scout Camp near Mukwonago WI. This was taken in about 1977. I loved the work.

Tom Brisson said...

Very encouraging post...I've prayed a lot about vocation and have taken whatever jobs turned up -- I spent one Christmas season as a Santa at a mall! Best Christmas I ever had.

What I've learned is that whatever I'm doing for a living, my real vocation is to love people.