MY VERY NEXT THING by Stan Rarden

 HOPE AND CHANGE in God’s kingdom it’s different! At times during my working career, in the very back of my mind the thought would pop up, “What would I do if this job went away?” I would respond casually, almost indifferently, “I’ll never be out of work for too long. I’m good at many things, and I know so many people that I could probably go from one gig to another without too much trouble.” This proved to be less true than I’d hoped. Out of work, and after a few months of searching for new work and getting nowhere, I began to feel hopelessly stuck in the horrible NOW, with no foreseeable hope of a bright future. Every minute spent looking for work was painfully futile, and every minute spent doing anything else felt hugely irresponsible. For me, this was the no-win situation of all time. Change was needed here, obviously. When change finally came, though, it wasn’t at all what I thought it was going to be. I thought my situation needed changing, but instead, I got a change in the way I looked at my situation. Instead of fear that I’d never find work again (with the dread and depression that comes with that), I started to see that God has plenty of things He needs me to be doing right now, and some of them don’t look very much like a job search.

Of course, a few mindset adjustments needed to happen, such as:

• “It’s not irresponsible or lazy to use my time for things other than looking for work, as long as I’m doing what God tells me to do right this minute.”

• “I am not fearful about money, or income, or provision. God has all that well in hand for me.”

Without these other two adjustments, there’s no way this would have worked for me. But in the process of changing (which didn’t happen overnight) I remembered wishing, when I was a 9-to-5er, that I could just take a day or two (or a week or two) off every now and then, and go volunteer at the church, or work around the house, or take my wife on a trip, or just spend some solitary time writing, reading the Bible and hanging out with God. But I never could find a good time to do this. I was always too busy. You know. You’ve been there, no doubt.

But I eventually realized that now there was nothing stopping me from doing all those things, and a hundred others. These “other things” — working in the yard, cleaning the gutters, or whatever – WERE His workplace for me at the moment. I could spend the day fixing all that stuff that’s been piling up on my workbench, or changing the oil in the car, or going to the doctor, dentist and chiropractor in the same week. We could go in search of fall color in the mountains. God gave me the gift of time, the peace to enjoy it, and the grace to feel productive while doing it. I’ve come to realize that with every task he gives me, he is equipping me, training me and setting me up for my next assignment in the workplace.

So in my new-found downtime (which isn’t really downtime at all), I’ve spent a season volunteering full-time at my church, I’ve done several pro-bono projects for local charities, and I was even able to help several families with home moves and other chores. And as a totally unforeseen bonus, since my mind hasn’t been consumed with worry and doubt about how I’d get by, I’ve become more effective as a volunteer. I’ve become a better witness to others about the love and grace of God, and about how His promises are true, because I’ve been experiencing them. There’s a certain “realness” about taking God up on His promises, and finding out that they are totally true, that definitely communicates peace and confidence to others who are in the same situation… at least I hope there is, for those of you who are reading this right now and are deciding whether to see if God’s Word is true in Philippians 4:19, “…my God shall supply all your need according to His riches by Christ Jesus.”

Don’t get me wrong. This wasn’t an easy change… it was a difficult one. Shame, fear of lack and fear of failure, didn’t go quietly. And I’d be a liar if I didn’t’ tell you that those things still come calling on a regular basis, to see if I’ve left the door open a crack so they can climb back in. But “change” is only good if you don’t change back to what you’ve changed from. For me, the ability to keep condemning thoughts out comes from proclaiming God’s goodness to whomever I’m with, be it another volunteer or someone I just meet on the street.

No, I don’t have a job at the moment. No, I haven’t drawn a paycheck in a while. But God has given me “all sufficiency in all things so that I might abound to every good work,” (2Cor 10:8) and He’s proved it. Testimony like this makes it impossible to feel like a failure… as long as you believe it. But that’s really the way it is with every Word of God, isn’t it?

5 Comments on “MY VERY NEXT THING by Stan Rarden”

  1. Who are you, man? Are you some kind of prophetic freak sent to read me like a book! I am so there in the same space. Instead of writing yet another cover letter, I’m going to sign up to volunteer teaching kids to read and fill out the volunteer application for the museum. Thank you for being so transparent. The fear and shame of unemployment are a constant nemesis. However, no matter how many times I beat myself up over what was, God, KEEPS sending me an encouraging ram in the bush. Last night’s Bible class, all of the sermons in church and now you and this piece is giving me the peace of God. I’m going to run my errands and enjoy my day without guilt. I will meditate on Romans 12:2 which speaks of renewing the mind to prove the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. Thank you SO much, and to God be ALL the glory!

    1. It is amazing how God speaks to us, isn’t it? Sounds like He is really working to increase your trust of Him and His promises. It’s helpful to remember that God is about making us Christlike and deepening His relationship with us. He isn’t a fairy Godfather that will rescue us from challenges, He is a mighty God and loving Father who will walk us through them-blessing and strengthening us as we go. When our priorities become aligned with His amazing things begin to happen. So enter into His rest and enjoy the journey!

    2. Go ahead, blessed child of the Most High God! No fear, never, no way. Do kids of the King fear anything? No! How awesome that God is using you right now to get stuff done that has been waiting on JUST YOU to do it. Stay in touch. Can’t wait to hear your victory stories!

  2. I can see some of what you are saying, but how could I take all of that time off with a mortgage and bills due with no income coming in? How could I go to doctor, dentist and chiropractor in one day if I no longer have insurance. I would love to volunteer at church full time and help out at charities. I don’t want to be so negative but this just isn’t Possible for some. I thank God that you can do that Stan.

    1. You are correct. We each walk a different path. Some are retired and able to devote alot of time to volunteering. Some work long hours and can give alot of prayer time as they commute or do housework. God has a way for all of us to fulfill our destinies and He is prepared to richly bless those who choose to trust and obey Him.

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