So, Ben has been working for his dad's company, and enjoying his work...He feels good being a part of the family business, and likes knowing that he is helping the family, so to speak. He had been waiting to hear from a job with Aera energy, an oil company here in Ventura. It was taking them so long, though, and finally, Ben's dad just needed to know if Ben would stay or go. So, Ben made the decision to stay.
The next week, Aera called and offered Ben the job. Ouch. That hurt...but, right away, Ben said that he was not going to take the job because he had already made a commitment. So, that was fine, the decision was made.
Then, Ben's dad said that he was changing the health insurance, so Ben got all the paperwork, brought it home and we re-worked the budget with the new numbers. Uh-oh. I know, it sounds crazy, but yes, it made such a difference that we weren't going to make it. I don't mean, oh, it will be tight, not going to make it. I mean, no cable, no internet, cut our food budget $60 a month, and still can't afford diapers type of situation. Anyway, then the agony began. Ben talked to his dad, who was INCREDIBLY gracious and wonderful, but that didn't make it any easier on Ben because he didn't want to disappoint anyone or let them down.
Then, a few days into it, I had a little epiphany: if Aera had called a week earlier, it would have been easy, he would have taken the job. If the insurance situation had come up a week later, it wouldn't matter because he would have already past the deadline for accepting the job with Aera and it would be easy. But could it be, that instead of an easy decision, the point of all this was just so that we would seek God, desperately, diligently, relentlessly until we had an answer? Could it be, that over the last two years, we had let the thought creep into our theology that God didn't really care what we did as long as we were obedient, and our hearts were right (which is not completely wrong), but that He didn't really have a specific plan for us, and that He wouldn't speak to us?
Thus, began our pursuit....we cried, we prayed, we read God's Word (at the end of twelve hour work days) until we couldn't keep our eyes open. I know it sounds weird, but we LABORED over this decision. Seriously, at some points during this, I would have picked actual, child-birth labor over this. But we prayed, and we said that we needed to hear from God, and that we could no longer live with God's general but needed God's specific plan. We needed to hear God's voice.
Now, I am not saying that God opened heaven, and we heard him audibly tell us what to do. But he carried us through and this is what happened.
I had prayed that God would send some prospective workers, since that was a source of pressure, already being a bit short handed. There are two prospects, so we are continuing to pray that at least one of them will work out.
My friend Amber (THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!) said she would be praying for Ben's dad, that he would "release" Ben from his commitment more forcefully, so Ben would really know that it was okay. We had sought advice from a couple other sources...And within two hours of me talking to my friend Amber, Ben's dad called him and said just that, "I RELEASE YOU."
This by no means made the decision, but it helped.
We read much of God's Word, but didn't sense a specific direction, only encouragement:
"The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you." 1 Samuel 10:6-7
So, finally, Ben made the decision. He called Aera, and he was already a day late sending the acceptance letter, so he didn't even know if he could still have the job. And when he called, no one was there, he had to leave a message. But he sent the letter, and then called his dad. Anyway, his dad was so kind and so encouraging, and although sad to see him go, he even said it might work out better in the end for him. And some other details went according to the way we had prayed, and then Aera returned his call and said that they had actually been waiting to see if Ben would accept the job and that they were so please that he did!! And so, the Lord has acted mightily on our behalf.
To tell you the truth, at most points in all this, I didn't even care what Ben decided, I just wanted to be done with the decision. And yet, the agony, that is what is the most exciting thing to me in all of this. GOD IS NEAR TO US!! GOD DESIRES TO SPEAK TO US!!! It is my responsibility to know my Shepherd's voice, but you better believe I am ready to get to know it for sure!!!! And if God is near to us, if God speaks to us, and if God has a specific plan for us (WHICH HE DOES!!!) then life has meaning, then there is boundless amounts of hope and joy even IN THIS LIFE!!! GOD IS NOT IMPERSONAL!
Oh, so about the job....
I am not exactly sure what Ben will be doing, except making sure those oil-pumping machines off the side of the freeway work. But he will work seven 12 hour days, then have 7 days off. Then he will work seven 12 hour night shifts (6pm to 6am) and have seven days off. Our insurance is great, and he will have a pension and 401K. I am not really even sure what all of that is...but, they also have some educational incentives, and I thought, hey, 7 days off is perfect for trying to finish that degree he's been talking about....or surfing, or studying God's word and laboring with me over the next decision we face. Only next time, we will even start off in a better place, because we know and believe that He will speak to us, and He does have a specific plan for us.
P.S. Interestingly enough, my Wednesday night Bible Study, which started about 3 hours after Ben made his decision is about Discerning God's Voice. I CAN'T WAIT!!!
Please pray for us, with moving soon, and the change in jobs, and Ben's new schedule...we can't wait to see what God will do!