For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV
Jeremiah 29:11 is my favorite verse, and a verse that God has shown to be true in so many ways. I don’t recall if it was one of the verses I clung to in my early years, or one I clung to when I was struggling in the darkness, but it certainly has been a verse near and dear to my heart for many years now. I can say, with absolute certainty, that God is alive, that He is moving in my life, and that He has a hope for my life. This isn’t just a belief. It isn’t just faith. It is truth that I have personally experienced, and continue to experience to this day.
I rededicated my life to the Lord on July 4, 1996, and I can honestly say that after that date, my life changed forever. Sure, I was still working the dead-end job of security. I still had all the speedbumps that I put into my life in regards to my education that would hinder me. Yes, even the depression was still there in my mind. These things looked bleak and hopeless before that fateful night, but now, I had given it to God and moved out of His way.
There was a kiosk in the mall of a company known as “Internet in a Mall.” They were a small Internet Service Provider that I decided to sign up with for my Internet service. I was still living with my parents at the time, but I had my own phone line and my own computer. I would talk to the employees there quite regularly, and when I had problems with the service, I talked to them about it. They could tell that I knew a lot about computers. One day, not long after I rededicated my life, one of the employees came up to me and handed me an application. “We’re opening a new location. You’re already hired. Just fill out this application to make it official.” I hadn’t even asked about it, the thought never even crossed my mind, yet here it was, being dropped into my lap like manna from heaven.
I worked for the company for a very short time, at the same time, I was still working security at the mall. In a very short time, I was promoted to assistant manager at that location. Things were looking good, until they weren’t. I was called one morning and told not to go in to work, that the company had just gone bankrupt. I was still working security at the time, so I wasn’t completely out of work. It still looked, though, like I was going to be stuck at a dead-end job. This time, though, I had something else going for me. I had a few months experience working for an ISP, which meant I could probably work for another ISP. I managed to find a small local one that was willing to hire me one day a week and for special events. It was a start, at least.
A short while after I was hired, things got more unstable at the mall. I knew I had to make a choice of whether or not to stay working security. Security, while it was a dead-end job, was still a safety net for me. I was barely working at the ISP, and security had been stable. That same weekend, I was attending a Promise Keepers event in Los Angeles. I remember going to the event and praying on the way there. “Lord, I know I need to leave my security job, but I’m only working part time for the ISP. Please give me a sign that I’m making the right decision.” I didn’t know what the sign would be, or even if I would get a sign. I just put my fleece before the Lord and sought an answer. I had already made the decision, and even if I had no answer, I was going to go forward, trusting in the Lord.
The Lord answered very loudly and clearly. Those who don’t believe might stand on coincidence, but for it to happen the exact same day, the exact answer I was seeking, is about as much of a coincidence as monkeys typing War and Peace. While I was at the Promise Keepers event, I had received a voice mail message. When I listened to it, it was one of the owners of the ISP offering me a full time position starting the very next day. I hadn’t even put in the notice to quit the job with security, nor had I reached out to the ISP to see about getting hired full-time. I had only prayed, asking the Lord to confirm that I was making the right choice. I was in tears with joy. The Lord had answered my question and had shown me the way to go.
I put in my two week notice at the mall and accepted the full-time position at the ISP. The ISP was right around the corner from my church, so on my lunch break, I often went to the church bookstore/café. When I wasn’t on a call for work, I, like everyone at the office, was allowed to work on our own projects. My project was “Door to Christ.” It was a web site where I would share the Gospel, much like my goal for Reflections. At the café, I would do research, take notes, and bring those notes back to put onto the web site when I had a chance.
While I was working at the ISP, I started becoming more involved at church. I was going to home Bible studies and a college and career Bible study. After a while, I decided it was time for me to start serving in Ministry. I thought a good place to start was as a decision follow-up counselor on Sunday evenings. Praying with those who just accepted the Lord and setting them onto the right path, as others had done for me a year before. In addition, I thought I would join the Children’s Ministry as a teacher for grade school. The Lord had other plans, and He put me in with four-year old children. It was soon after, that I discovered they had a shortage of four-year old teachers on Sunday evenings. I knew the Lord was calling me to help fill that shortage, so I stepped back from the follow-up counseling and chose to teach the children in the morning and in the evening. It was an incredible blessing and one I never once regretted.
They say that all good things come to an end. That may be true for those who aren’t with the Lord, but my experience has always been quite different. I had been working at the ISP for a year and a half, all while serving the Lord in various ways. Then, suddenly, after returning from the church café, I was called into the manager’s office and was told I was being fired. The reason was something to do with how I handled phone calls. There was one manager, not my direct manager, who was gnostic and always complained about how I was on the phone, but would never tell me what I was doing wrong or how to correct it. Apparently, she had complained to my manager and the owners as well, and ultimately, they decided to let me go for that reason. Everything seemed to be crashing around me, and I left the office in tears. I went to the church for prayer and by the end of the prayer, I was filled with the peace of God. I had no job, but I knew that I would be ok, that God would provide.
I was still living with my parents at this time, so I went home, not crying but rejoicing. My mother couldn’t believe it and was worried about my job options. I wasn’t, though. I knew that there was another ISP I could apply to and would undoubtedly get hired. They had purchased the ISP that went bankrupt, and between the two ISPs, I had about 2 years of experience. I didn’t want to apply there right away, though, as I didn’t want another phone support job. So, instead, I tried to get hired at an orphanage for disabled children. When that didn’t work out, due to education and experience, I applied to the larger ISP and, as suspected, I was hired. I was only out of work for two weeks.
When I was hired, I had put down a condition of wanting Sundays free for church. I was told that company policy was all new hires had to work weekends, but after six months, can switch off weekends if an opening is available. I would still be able to go to church Sunday morning and still teach in the morning, but evenings had to stop. Trusting the Lord, I accepted and reluctantly informed the Ministry that I had to leave Sunday evenings. Again, the Lord had moved in unexpected ways. In less than three months, I was offered a shift that freed up my Sundays completely, and I was able to return to teaching the four-year old children on Sunday evenings.
Two years prior to this time, I was working a dead-end job at security with no hope of anything better. Now, I was working call-center technical-support for a nationwide ISP. I was serving the children in the church, and walking with the Lord daily. It wasn’t always walking in a straight line, but I was walking forward. My schedule also allowed me to start in a new Ministry, as a counselor in the Junior High Ministry, working with 7th and 8th grade kids. It was an amazing time. During one of the summer retreats with the Junior High kids, I felt the Lord’s leading to be baptized with the Junior High kids that had also chosen to be baptized at that time.
With everything going on, the Lord continued to show His faithfulness through that time. After working at the ISP for six months, I was offered a new job. I went to a home Bible Study at the house of a man who owned a small business he ran out of his house. We had gotten to know each other through the Bible Study. He knew about my work at the different ISPs, and my work with the children. He knew of my computer experience and needed someone to do IT for his home office, as well as help with sales. He had even talked to the owner of the ISP that fired me and was told “We made a mistake firing Jason.” As a result, I was able to move away from the ISP into an actual hybrid IT/sales position with a Christian Brother.
Coincidence! Luck! Happenstance! There’s no such thing. The only explanation that makes any sense is that there is a God, and that He is giving me a future and a hope, like He promised. The company I worked for now, working for my Christian Brother, sold software to the mortgage industry. It was the #1 selling software at the time, and sales calls were simple. I just answered the phone and took the orders. The people calling in already wanted to purchase. At the same time, I was the sole IT person for the office. Looking back, I probably wasn’t the best choice, due to my lack of experience, but it gave me experience I desperately needed. On top of that, I was sent to take extension courses in VisualBasic 6, ASP, ASP.NET 1.0, and VB.NET 1.0, which he paid for to prepare me for a time if I ever stopped working for him. At that time, I couldn’t imagine not working for him, because he was a generous, fair and honest employer who was also a true friend. Of course, the Lord had other plans, and like all that had gone before, He has shown himself faithful, giving me a future I could never have expected.
to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:26 NKJV