March 11, 2014
As I arrived at my destination, I found a public telephone and called the offices of the man I had hoped might help me get my life in order. I was not prepared for the answer. As President of the college, it was graduation day and after the commencement exercises, he and his wife were leaving on vacation and would not return for at least three weeks.
At first, I was stunned, but there had to be an answer and I sat down to review the possibilities. One of the real problems I faced was that I was almost broke. It was them I recalled that we had passed a "labor" office on our way in and I discovered it was not that far away. It was still morning and I felt there would be a possibility of finding a job, today. It didn't take me long to get there, register and find a seat, hoping, not yet praying, there would be a job. Hours passed, it was approaching 2 PM when the phone rang. The dispatcher looked my way and asked if I could count. "Certainly, yes I can!" With that I was on my way. In a few minutes, I was introduced to a man who had a problem. "I have to take take inventory and have the results on my boss's desk by Friday. Do you think we can do that? "Yes!"
Come Friday, he signed my work ticket, indicating 40 hours of work performed and handed me $20, saying, "Thanks, you don't know It, but you just saved my job!"
I was about to have the most fascinating experience I have ever known. After cashing my voucher, I was headed for the YMCA where I heard I could find lodgings. Passing a cocktail lounge, I thought to myself, "You have worked hard, earned your keep. It would be good to celebrate with a beer." Guess what! I tried to open the door and it seemed to be locked, even though I could hear people talking and laughing on the other side. There was nothing I could do but walk away. And then I noticed two couples coming my way, laughing and enjoying themselves and watched as they turned to go into the lounge and they walked right in. "Why could they go in and I could not?" I tried again. It was still locked - to me. I walked away and thought to myself, ..."perhaps, my life was changing." I decided to see if this was true.
Obviously, it was as I found myself all alone in a city I had never even visited. All I needed now was to find a good church. There were two Methodist churches nearby and I called both. One responded with a recitation of the schedule for Sunday services and the other, by a young girl who seemed to be more interested in me that any schedule. Learning that I thought of myself as a Christian, she warmly invited me to the 8 AM service, "You are going to love this one."
She was right. The people greeted me as warmly as the girl had suggested would happen and it was to become my "home away from home" for the next two years. I was not only welcomed there, it seemed I was as welcomed by every place I turned to for employment. For years, I had struggled to find a job that really appealed to me. Here I was to find several. And I would find more friends than I had ever met in my years since leaving the service.
I was about to discover, my problems were typical. We tend to look on a job as a task to perform, but I was beginning to learn, jobs are opportunities to serve others, no more, no less. If you are employed where you are needed and do what you can do to the best of your abilities, it is no longer just a job but an opportunity to become all you were destined to become.
Eventually, I was lured away to Dallas, TX, where I had discovered an opportunity to serve a man who had become a paraplegic and was operating a business in which I knew I could excel. I was wrong. It was not the employment opportunity, but the way he treated those assigned to help him. For the first time in my life, I found a person who not only failed to appreciate the gifts he had received, he was not appreciative of almost all efforts to simply help himself. It was a tough place to work, but it led me to a friend who came to my aid as I walked out.
He had noticed my disciplines. "On time and at work, consistently," those were his words as he told me of a part-time job he had been ignoring and thought I might be the person to bring it to life. It would become the opportunity of my life time.
His prime business was newspaper advertising and he was working with a number of different papers and magazine. My job was to work with his clients to build their businesses, beyond the results of the advertising, to working with one another so that they might offer more than the printed word. It took a lot of imagination in many cases, but since I represented an established entity, most of our customers were eager to listen and buy into our proposals. The beauty of our offer was that most of our plans did not require investments, so we were able to pay ourselves handsome dividends.
My personal obligation was the support of my children and since I no longer trusted their Mother, I employed a lawyer to deal with the payments. When my deposits with him reached a point where I could pay more, he used the excess to add to investments he made for his firm. It worked well.
Just when I was thinking of opening a business related to the efforts we were already making, we were offered a lot of money to sell our interests. When my share was far more than I had imagined, I asked my lawyer to talk with the California agency governing child support and learned that I could advance enough to pay for my requirements until they reached age 18. We discovered the figures were equal to each other; my contribution would be slightly more than my obligations and so, a deal was made.
With that, I had nothing to do, nowhere to go, and prayed, asking God, "What would you have me do?"
It did not happen immediately, but His answer was clear to me, "Go, be with My people."
What did that mean? I kept reviewing the people I had known over the years, but my mind kept drawing me back to the Labor agencies I had operated in California. "Why," I used to ask myself, "could a person sink to such a level that they believed they could not live without giving themselves to an agency that only paid the minimum wage, but we paid for their efforts, daily." It dawned on me that God's love for such people was no less than He extended to the richest in His kingdom. I decided to - Go, be with His people. With nothing more than a pair of jeans, a tee shirt, underwear, socks and loafers, plus my Bible in hand, I walked out of Dallas into a world seldom seen by most people. Oh, I forgot to add, I had less than two dollars in my pocket.
More, much more, later on...