Today I Ponder – Ponderings

I’ve been considering this new category here on Selah Musings for some time now. I’ve often wanted to share things that really aren’t scriptural lessons or content but reflect living ‘The Way’ from my own unique perspective. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not suggesting that my life is anything other than typical. What you will read here isn’t always going to be ‘doing things right’. To the contrary, I do a lot of things wrong. I’m out of step with the Lord, more than I care to think about. I’m no different than you. I’m a sinner, who if not for the Grace of Jesus, would be doomed to eternal death.

Hopefully, there will be things that inspire you. There may be things that you can identify with. Then again, there may be things that just don’t add up to you. That’s not going to be a massive surprise to me, as seldom does everything add up to what, I think, it should.

The one consistent element that both you and I should see, is how God always figures into our lives. He is the Good Shepherd. He can and will take the lead for us, if we will only allow Him to. I don’t always do that. The core reason for ‘Ponderings’ is to reflect on events and try to see where things get out of kilter.

This new category on Selah Musings called Ponderings is intended to be a bit of the summery of the day, reflection of what transpired, what is in the works, what isn’t working and running the race. Be that well or not so much. I hope you enjoy and contribute.

It’s easy to become a member of Selah Musings. Being a member makes it easier to interact with the site. If you don’t choose to become a member, you can sign up for email notifications or in lieu of either, submit comments to articles here on Selah Musings.  I read each one, and where I can, I will be more than willing to respond.

Forgive me right now, please!  This posting is going to likely be the longest post in this section, moving forward. It needs to be more involved because, I’m not telling you about day or two, but setting the stage for the posts which will be followed up on later.

What’s going on

This has been quite a week. Last Friday was my last day on a job I’ve held for 3 years, after moving from HP Enterprise Services. I wouldn’t have left HP except for the fact that they wanted to have all of us folks that worked from our homes, start working out of their data centers.  That would have been fine under normal circumstances but for me, that would mean at least a two-state commute or relocating.  Since HP wasn’t footing the bill for moving, that left me with one choice; exit stage right.

Seems last Friday was yet another exit that had not been of my own choice. The company was winding down operations due to a contract loss, and I wasn’t alone getting my walking papers. We all were pounding the streets looking for new work.

The thing is, this time was different for me. The opportunity to move to Cahaba GBA from HP was pretty much handed to me.  Associates from my past employment with HP, had landed there and as what we might call ‘luck’ they were eager to try and draw me in to work with them again. You and I know that wasn’t luck, that was God’s providence and provisioning.

But this time, we knew back in September that our jobs were going away. Many left months ago as they found new opportunities that they eagerly took up.  As we ended February of this year, the staff had diminished to a fraction of those who were there before. February also saw all the ‘business operation groups departing as the contract transitioned over to the company it had been awarded to.

Unlike my transition before, this time though I had been trying and trying to find something, the opportunities just didn’t materialize. Could be age discrimination. Could have been my approach to a changed market place was stale after many years of continuous employment. Seemed that the way to get in front of companies was to use the path of least resistance; a recruiter.  ‘Back in my day’ we used to scoff at those ‘head hunters’.

This time even with a recruiter pitching my services, five months solid of submitting resumes, and rewriting cover letters, and doing all that was asked of me; had resulted in one interview with an actual company. They were duly impressed with my ‘qualifications’, however, they also thought that I would fill a different role within their organization better than the one I was interviewing for. The only problem with that was that none of ‘those positions’ were open anywhere near me.

So, this time, there was a lot of prayer. There was a lot of turning the outcome over to God. There was a lot of surrendering my chosen profession to whatever the will of what God might want for me. In return, there was unmistakable, peace and comfort that He was in control. A sense of peace that at times I found confusing, because the logical side of me (I am an engineer by discipline), was screaming that this was not the way to deal with the situation. But faith isn’t logical. If it were, it wouldn’t be faith at all. Trust is at times logical. If we have been across a bridge several dozen times, we build confidence and trust that that bridge is going to support us. There was both Faith and Trust involved. I had Faith that God would take care of my situation. I had trust as I walked out of the building last Friday that God would do what He always does, He is true to His word.

I filed for unemployment the afternoon after leaving the office. Other than that, the weekend was quiet. I applied for jobs that I saw which sounded like something that I might like or be capable of fulfilling. In that respect, last weekend was no different than the many weekends that came before then.

Self-Inflicted Confusion

Monday came and then Tuesday; I’m talking with my recruiters daily and at times several times a day now. I’m talking to Jesus even more. Thursday there was a conflict over one job opportunity, that honestly, was my own fault. Recruiter A had submitted me for a position with this company. Monday, recruiter B, was all excited about this job and asked to submit me as well. I had totally lost the fact that I had given permission to the first firm to represent me with this client.

It ended up that I had to ask recruiter B to withdraw their representation to the client on my behalf and allow recruiter A to move forward.

Low and behold as we are having our opening prayer for Bible Study Wednesday evening, my cell phone rings and I glanced and saw it was recruiter A calling. I answered it and softly told him right way, to hold for just a minute or two.

I was having a chuckle to myself as just after I told the guy that, I hear pastor asking God for direction and provision for me to find the job that He would have me be His witness in.  I’m holding the phone with the microphone unmuffled so I’m sure the recruiter is hearing this.

As soon as the prayer was over, I got up and walked out of the group to talk with my recruiter. “They want to see you tomorrow! Is 1 O’clock good for you?” I told him absolutely.  I was having some issues with my car but had planned on taking it into the dealership Thursday morning, but that shouldn’t prevent me from meeting with the client at one.

At the close of the Bible Study I informed the group about the nature of the phone call. We all were kibitzing about how fast THAT prayer was answered. I thought to myself, that wasn’t God’s knee jerk to the prayer that had just been put up for my benefit.  God knew that prayer was coming. He knew that He was already paving the way for His response to be sure and quick; again, an amazing God!

The Opportunity

Let me explain something about this job opportunity. When recruiter B told me about it I was like, ‘meh!’  It sounded like a developer role and I was just coming off that sort of gig and that wasn’t where I wanted to be. We’re talking me personally I didn’t want to be in another developer job with my nose to the monitor all day long, day in day out. I love coding, but I tend to be a people person. I really enjoy connecting with people. From what I could tell this had some ‘people time’ but was going to be heavy on the code side, so I wasn’t real excited.

Tuesday morning, I’m up for my devotions early, because my appointment at the dealership is at 8 AM. What I was taking the car in for was that it had a slow leak in the passenger side front tire, and had developed a interment stall, which I suspected was the engine flooding out for some reason. Every time this happened a strong smell of gas would become apparent. The car would sputter for a bit and then act normal. This was a bit unnerving when I was pulling out into heavy traffic because the first time it happened I about got hit. Metropolitan Birmingham, Alabama is not the place for your vehicle to randomly stop running as you pull into traffic.  It’s not like Atlanta, but we who live here are aware of the potential for calamity under these circumstances.

After waiting for a while, the service representative comes and finds me in the waiting room.  Informs me that the repairs required, are going to cost me almost are just about $40 shy of $800! You know that rock that lands in the pit of your stomach when you get news unexpected? I thought both the tire and the operational issue would be covered by the warranty. After all, this care is not very old and IS still under warranty.

But, as the tire leak was apparently a nail, which I was told was in the sidewall of the tire and couldn’t be repaired and the stalling was caused by wires which had been chewed on by a rodent of some sort, the warranty was out of the picture. The wires included both the pig tail and the leads for one of the oxygen sensors, both which the dealership was saying had to be replaced. Since it was ‘act of groundhog’ and not faulty equipment or wear and tear, I was on the hook.

They had to order parts, so we likely wouldn’t have them till the next day or Monday, so I need to get my ailing vehicle back to the house. Oh, and get to that interview at one this afternoon.

The car was even worse on the way to the house. I managed to get it down the road to an independent garage, where I thought that I might get a second opinion. After the gentleman behind the counter looked at the paperwork from the dealership, he tells me that he would have to get the parts from the dealer anyhow, and he doesn’t do tires, but if the nail is in the sidewall, I’m up a creek.

I got the car home and commandeered my wife’s vehicle to go for this interview, I now as nearly apoplectic about. Okay, the low end of that word. I was wondering why I was wasting my time with this job interview.

However, I got ready and headed off to the interview.

Never prequalify, what God is provisioning for you. I had done that.

I got to the interview over an hour early. I’d left in plenty of time because I wasn’t sure where the place was. I had just gotten the address from the recruiter that morning and had yet to look it up on any GPS app on my phone. The early arrival gave me an opportunity to pray. Pray I did. Long and in earnest, I prayed. First for God’s guidance in the matter of the car. Then we addressed my attitude about this interview.

For the car, I told the Lord that this was not something I could see us being able to afford at a time when my unemployment checks would amount to $265 a week before taxes were taken out. I could really use a little guidance here because, I don’t do my own auto service normally and this one was beyond my knowledge and experience.

Regarding the interview, I thanked God for this opportunity. No, seriously, the job that I was turning my nose up to, I thanked Him for; not being smart in any way. I was thankful that He was in control and had a plan for me. He had this, I know he did. I just wasn’t sure what ‘this’ was.

“Oh, and by the way Lord, I know you got the car debacle handled as well”. I turned both over to Him as I had so many times in the months before as I looked for work.  That faith and trust thing, was kicking back in, at full force. It felt good as the burden of this ‘performance’ was now on His shoulders. The car would be what it was, God would either minimize the costs or provide a means of covering the expenses.

The Interview

The absolute amazing thing, about when you’re centered in God’s will is just how good it feels. That isn’t to say that when we are in God’s will we will ‘always’ feel super, but often, when we are in God’s will and our circumstances seem like we should be in the dumps and cratering emotionally, we find ourselves way beyond joyful that we are in the place God wants us to be.

This was me before the interview. I was dancing on cloud nine! It didn’t matter if the interview bombed. It didn’t matter if my skill set offered nothing to the proposition. The only thing that matter was that I was doing what God wanted me to be doing at that moment. I was like, “Jesus, just let your light beam from me and let them know that I am different; I’m yours”. They might not know what that was all about, but I really wanted them to see me different for the sake of my Lord and Savior.

I talked with one of the leads for the position, and then the manager over the team. We over ran our time by about twenty minutes or so. Despite that, the manager wanted to walk me around the office to see the lay out. I was more than happy to do so.

As the interview has progressed, all my suppositions about what this job was about, melted away. It wasn’t anything like what I dreaded. It was something that excited me more and more because it tapped into the things that I did very well and enjoyed immensely from prior jobs.

As soon as I left the interview, I called the recruiter and left him a message that I thought that the interview had gone extremely well and for him to call me and I would tell him all about it.

With that, I drove home.

Back At The Ranch

I came through the door and told my wife that I thought that the interview had gone extremely well, then up the stairs I went to change my clothes. I’d gotten my shirt and pants off and my cell phone started ringing. I glanced at it and saw it was my recruiter. A little awkward but he didn’t know I was in my underwear, so I answered.

“They want you to start April 2nd. Ken, I’m not kidding, they want you April 2nd.”

I’m not sure if I chuckled in the middle of his words and that is why he assured me he wasn’t kidding, but I was bubbling over with joy at this point.  We talked a bit about the start date and insurance.

Because they wanted me to start on April 2nd I wouldn’t have coverage till May 1st. If we could get me in two days earlier, I would have insurance April 1st. Since my current insurance ended on the last day of March, I asked if it would be at all possible for me to start sometime in March, so I had continuous coverage.  He said he would see and get back with me, but congratulations.

I hung up the phone and tossed on some clothes and went down to the living room to inform my wife about the good news.

It wasn’t an hour later, that the recruiter called me back to tell me that they didn’t see a problem with getting me on-boarded in March. BINGO!!! Thank you, LORD!

Back To The Automotive Issue

Immediately after I had gotten the ‘Bad News’ from the dealership, I had posted my disappointment on my Facebook feed. I had been having conversations with friends about this issue, and possible resolutions. On of my friends from Church mentioned the garage that he uses, and recommended I have a talk with them about the car.

I wasn’t real hopeful, because I had already been told by one independent garage that had a stellar reputation, that the dealership was pretty much spot on. But I took the advice to heart, and while mulling it around what my next move would be, I check with a local auto parts store, discovered that ‘these parts’ were not ‘dealer only’ items. To top that off, it appeared that the aftermarket parts were about half of what the dealership was quoting me.

I went to bed Thursday night, thinking that I would call the shop that was recommended to me, in the morning and go from there. Feeling like God was moving again on my behalf and just excited for what He’d done, and what He was doing.

Friday morning came, and I did what I had planned on doing. I call the shop and asked for the owner by name, which had been given to me by my brother in the Lord, that recommended the place. He wasn’t in, so I told the person that had answered the phone, that I would call back.

Waited for about 30 minutes and thought, this was silly. Why not just call and tell them to have the owner call me when he gets back?  When I did, it was the owner that answered the phone!

I told him what was going on, and that I was hoping that he would be able to narrow the costs with aftermarket parts from what the dealer had quoted. Of course, he wanted to see the car, and I was already prepared to deliver it to him to look it over. So, I told him we’d be there in a while with the car.

We dropped left it and headed back to the house.

Later Friday evening, Odie calls and informs me that the tire ‘was not’ punctured in the sidewall. It was in the tread. It was repairable. In fact, had been repaired already.  As for the pig tail, it was repairable, and was repaired as well. However, the leads on the oxygen sensor were too short to facilitate repairs on it, so it would indeed have to be replace. He had ordered the parts and the car should be ready Monday.

I don’t have the total bill for this yet but from the sounds of it we are looking at about 25-30% of what was quoted by the dealer.  Again, more praise for a God who is concerned about the petty things!

Pondering This…

Faith has no value until we put it into action. We can say we trust God and His ultimate provision over us, but it is when that trust is invested in our actions and we exercise that faith that, we allow Him to do what he always does for us.

It was true in this situation, but it would have also been true if I would have had to pay the full price quoted by the dealership, and the employer would have routed me out of the building on a rail.  His will, our obedience to it, that is where the joy and peace abide for us. Regardless of the storm that rages about us.

God is good, all the time!

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