Thursday, August 16, 2012

Working As Unto The Lord

Have you ever had one of those days when everything you did seemed to go wrong?  Sure you have –probably many times over the years.  But did you ever have a string of years, not just a day, but years when everything you touched somehow resulted in blessing upon blessing?

Just around the time Janice, Michelle and I moved from the Sudbury area to Elliot Lake, I had been reading the story of Joseph, son of Jacob.  Carlyle B. Haynes had entitled his book: God Sent a Man.  It made such an impact on my life; I was never the same again!  If I were to sum up its message to me, it would be this: The more fully a person surrenders their lives to God in service to Him, the more fully He will use that person to His glory and bless all others within the circle of his influence.  Like Joseph, even the worst experiences will result in unexpected good.  Everything you touch, as it were, will miraculously turn to gold.

I remember Hermel and I walking into the offices of County Contracting, a construction company.  Another Adventist gentleman had worked for them and just recently left for New Mexico.  He had left a key with Hermel to return to this contractor and we decided to use it as a way of introducing ourselves and asking for a job.  Being nothing more than unskilled labourers, we were prepared to do the most menial tasks if necessary.  And so it was that we were hired and sent to a location in town where they were building townhouses.  The general foreman immediately put us to work digging a rather large ditch for conduit pipes.  We had it in our minds that whatever work we were given to do, it would be as unto the Lord.  As such, we wanted it to be perfect.  We didn’t bother with coffee breaks; lunch would be satisfactory enough.  I remember the foreman coming by to check on how we were doing and telling us to slow down as we would wear out.  It had an opposite effect and only managed to increase our determination to be the best we could be.

We worked long hours for a mere $4.25 per hour.  Keep in mind that Hermel had just left a mining job that paid huge salaries and thousand dollar bonuses each month.  The courage it must have taken to make this switch in his life could only have been brought about by God.  I, on the other hand, was making big money in comparison to what I had just left behind.  We felt like we had just struck gold.

One day, we decided it was time to ask for a raise.  The foreman agreed and gave us a 50 cent increase in pay.  About a week later, he approached us and asked if we had had a raise since coming to work for him.  We looked at each other with what must have appeared as confused expressions on our faces and assured him that he had just given us a raise a few short days past.  He quickly responded that he would be giving us another raise; and so he did.  In the five years that I worked for this company, we were never refused a raise.  It seemed that whatever we set out to do, however humble the task, God blessed us.  Before long, we were placed in charge of crews doing whatever was required.  We learned much about the construction business, how to operate various heavy equipment machinery, lead a team of men, basic carpentry, and above all else, how to work hard and efficiently.

The best part of this experience usually happened in the evenings when Hermel and I would go out on the town knocking on doors and conducting religious surveys.  I often would feel uncomfortable about meeting strangers and talking to them about religion, but Hermel would keep insisting that we do it.  After urging me to join him, we would arrive at someone’s door and he would knock, take a step backwards and then say, “OK, you talk because you’re better at it than I am.”  That always went over well in my mind.  But somehow, the Lord blessed.  

Before long, we were about a dozen or so meeting for church.  What was really neat was the fact that everyone met for Sabbath School and Worship Services without exception.  Everyone was invited to someone’s home for lunch or inviting someone to their place.  Everyone showed up for prayer meeting.  And even for Ingathering, (soliciting funds for people who suffered through some disaster ie: flood, earthquake, etc.) all would show up to do their part.  When the Conference eventually heard of us and told us that they would be sending us a pastor to help out, we were happy for the news, but did not feel that this would necessarily change the course we were on.  We were prepared to do the Lord’s work—pastor or no pastor. 

When I think of our churches today and our dependence on pastors, I am saddened at our helplessness if a pastor isn’t at the helm doing most of the work.  Congregations in many parts of the world are growing by leaps and bounds because the members are doing the work while the pastors’ responsibilities are primarily of a training nature.  I suspect that if our members were to adopt a similar model, the impact of our witness would be quite noticeable.

Getting back to the construction business, something that I felt was rather odd was the day the owner asked me to come in his office.  He had made arrangements for me to meet with himself and his office manager.  He then announced that he wanted to pay to send me to school to acquire an education on the construction business.  I was totally blown away by his generosity!  I had no idea this was even an option.  In any case, I had for some time been thinking that I didn’t want to do this for the rest of my life.  I wanted to somehow work more directly for the Lord in areas of direct evangelism.  The ‘self-supporting’ world was also becoming a great attraction to me.  A stint at Woodland Park sounded very good and I hoped that there might be room for us there.  Just around that time I called Frank to see what the possibilities might be.

Hence, a move in the very near future was about to be realized.

And the journey continues…  Part VII  

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