When we last left our hero, he was wondering what was going to happen next.
I was without work. I thought I was going to realize the fulfillment of a long held dream of coaching college basketball. So, I sent out resumes and waited. I talked to every coach I knew. And I waited. The summer came and went and still no coaching job. In fact, there were no jobs at all on the horizon. We didn't feel free to move to another area because my parents and my wife's parents had moved here to be near us and they were in declining health and needed our help. The search continued. As all this was going on, we had to give our cocker spaniel to the pound because he was old and had too much wrong with him for us to afford to have him treated. It was not a fun summer. About a week after we gave our dog away, I was out on yet another job search. As I drove past the animal shelter, I lost it. I began to pray, cry, and yell at God. I even cussed (I know that shocks some of you, but that's the way it is). I told God that if I had anywhere else to go, I'd chuck this whole Christian thing. I realized that, like the disciples, I had nowhere else to go, that Jesus was the only one worth following.
In September of 2005, I was hired by a tour bus company to drive. I was glad because it would give me a chance to travel. As it turned out, the majority of the job consisted of leaving the house at 4:00 AM, driving to a National Guard camp eighty miles away, and shuttling troops back and forth from the camp to a nearby army base so they could be processed for active duty in Iraq. Most of the day was spent sitting on the bus and waiting for the soldiers to get their paperwork in order. I would usually arrive back home sometime after 10:00 PM. Because of this schedule, I usually only worked three days a week, so the income wasn't real good. The company also had no health insurance for their employees.
At first, I wondered what I had done wrong, wondered why God had "put me on the sidelines". I felt like I was in a desert. Sitting on the bus gave me plenty of opportunity to read, think, and pray. God began to teach me about trust and patience. He reminded me that he was the most important one in my life, and that my identity was in Jesus, not in being a teacher or coach. I began to rethink even more of my assumptions about God, church, and life. At the same time, God was teaching me increasingly to trust him. Jan and I saw God provide for us again and again.
In January 2006, I walked out of the desert. I was hired as a teacher's assistant in a self-contained special education class at a public middle school. The kids I work with all have learning disabilities, some more severe than others. Many of them are from low income families. Quite a change from the Christian schools previously worked in, although not as much as I would have thought. Kids are kids wherever you go.
Also in January, both my mom and my mother-in-law went into a nursing home. Jan's mom suffered a stroke, and my mom was suffering from advanced Alzhiemer's. Our ministry to our parents changed somewhat, as we were visiting our moms and essentially being there for our dads. It was hard to go into a place full of people who were essentially waiting to die and visit Mom, knowing that she would never leave in this life.
I'll give your eyes a rest and write more later.
From my opportunity to teach in our gathering this morning:
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