Finding God in the Conflict of an Ordinary Life

Count it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, be should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:3-5 NIV 84

Some years ago, while serving as the Social Services Director at a large skilled nursing facility in Florida, there was a sudden “regime change.” The administrator who hired me had been replaced by another from corporate, who had the reputation for firing department heads beginning with the Social Services Director, whenever she was assigned to a new facility.  In spite of the fact, that I had never gotten less than a superior rating from our state inspections, I began to “catch the heat.”

It felt like our new administrator was attempting to bully me into firing myself. Frustrated and ready to quit, I resorted to seeking help from “the Wonderful Counselor.” Rising early one morning, I prayed, poured out my complaint to the Lord, when He seemed to say to me, “If I want you to remain in place doing your best and enduring the heat for me, would you be willing to do it?” To this day, I don’t know what possessed me, but I said, “Yes, Lord, I’ll stay until you move me and not one day sooner!”

Suddenly the weight of all the abuse and nit picking was lifted. I went to work that day with a totally different attitude. And then it happened! At about 11:00 AM, the phone rang in my office. It was Larry B., the administrator of a modest 50 bed ALF just down the road. Larry knew nothing about my circumstances, nor did I ever disclose them to him or anyone else. His first words were, “I’ll bet you are wondering why I’m calling?” Somehow, I knew the moment he asked, that I was about to be hired as his replacement.

God had an opportunity for me that I didn’t seek in any way, but it wouldn’t have been mine unless I was truly willing to serve Him anywhere He chose regardless of the difficulties. Oh, and by the way, that new administrator, who made life so miserable for her staff and me, she left for another position just one month later!

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Ed has had over 30 years of ministry experience, sixteen of them at Greenwoods Community Church in the southern Berkshires of Massachusetts. More recently he has fulfilled an extended transitional interim assignment for the Alliance Southeast of the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Leesburg, Florida. In addition, Ed has had nearly 13 years of experience in the field of geriatric healthcare. Ed’s is happily married to Lynn, having recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Lynn is a true partner in ministry, having served Greenwoods Community Church as its Children's Ministry Coordinator for over ten years. She is a decorator, colorist, instructor in furniture painting, and an artist in her own right. For over 20 years she had her own business, Whimsical Brushes, teaching and traveling throughout the Northeast. Lynn is also active as a women’s outreach speaker for Stonecroft Ministries in Florida. God has given Ed a burden to be a mentor pastor, developing leaders for the church in the 21st Century. One way in which he is fulfilling that calling is through Rockbridge Seminary, where he serves as an adjunct professor of Spiritual Formation. Ed has earned degrees from Cairn University (B.S. 1971), Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M. 1979), and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min. 2007). He has published several articles on the Spiritual Heritage of Litchfield County, Connecticut, and led several tours of sites associated with the Village Revivals that spawned the Second Great Awakening in New England. In his spare time, you are likely to find Ed at the piano or pecking out a blog on his blog page

2 thoughts on “Finding God in the Conflict of an Ordinary Life”

  1. I was involved in the ordinary task of running errands for my wife. I found myself several miles from home as the lunch hour approached, so I used the intersection of time and place to stop for lunch at a fast food fish shop that I enjoy.
    I placed my order with a young lady behind the counter. She told that my meal was $8.47. I had a $20 bill in my wallet, so I utilized that to pay for my meal. The young lady completed my transaction shorted me $5 change. I stood at the counter until the young lady turned around, and I said I handed you a $20. She quickly pulled an additional $5 bill from the cash drawer and handed it to me. She did not ask to see my receipt, but she knew exactly what I had been shorted.
    As I ate my meal I examined my receipt. I had handed the women a $20-dollar bill and she had entered $15 had been tendered. The young lady had made a premeditated effort to clip me for five bucks. She would simply slip the extra in her pocket while clearing her cash drawer. My conclusion was verified when counter traffic slowed. The young lady walked by me to bus a table. With receipt in hand, I look directly into the young lady’s eyes and she turned her head and eyes quickly away.
    What should I do? I settled on going to the counter when the young lady was alone and handing her the receipt with the $5 bill. My words were simply going to be, “If you needed the $5, all you had to do is ask.” But the lunch rush had arrived, so I departed without action.
    On the way home, I found myself in the turning lane of a major intersection. I looked at the corner and noted drivers were getting the shakedown by guys with five-gallon buckets. I could feel the desire to hang back percolating up in my heart. But this fellow’s eyes caught mine, and he homed in on me like a starving mosquito.
    I reached for a handful of change in my coin collecting ashtray. I heard the fellow say, “I knew you were a good Christian man and wanted to give.” Then the Holy Spirit said, ““If I needed the $5, you said all you had to do is ask.” Conviction and shame can make a man cry under the weight of a Godly whisper. I reached into my shirt pocket and dropped the $5 bill in the bucket.


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