Many years ago, an important client of the firm where I worked began complaining about how I was opposing proposals before the Kennewick City Council that benefited his organization. My boss gave me a choice of resigning from City Council or quitting my job.
This was not an easy decision. I felt an obligation to the voters who elected me. I prayed a lot to know what God wanted me to do, and ultimately I refused to quit the council, and my boss fired me.
I had been playing with an idea for launching a new magazine and quickly invested $10,000 in publishing the first edition and in purchasing equipment and supplies. But after one month I realized that breaking into the black would not be a short-term possibility, and I was already overextended.
I began praying much harder, kneeling in my office for about an hour every day, pleading for inspiration. One Thursday morning I was on my knees again when I had a very clear impression that everything was going to be OK and my financial situation would be resolved by the following Monday. It was specific and strong enough that I recorded it in my journal.
The next day I was contacted by a competitor of my former employer who was interested in hiring me. I met with the CEO over the weekend, and, emboldened by my Thursday morning inspiration, I told the company president that I had run up some debt starting the new magazine, and if she wanted to hire me, her company would have to buy the magazine from me for $10,000. It would be up to them whether to continue the magazine or to kill it.
On Monday morning I had a new job and a check for $10,000.
About 13 years later I was at another financial crossroad, having again tried to launch a new publication from scratch in a very competitive marketplace. Again I went to the Lord in deep and earnest prayer. This time I fasted for two days before withdrawing to a very quiet, spiritual location, prepared to stay there as long as necessary to get an answer.
About three hours later I was overwhelmed by the Lord’s spirit of love and peace. But this time the inspiration I felt was very different. Again I wrote down the message in my journal, which was, essentially: “I am not a vending machine where you plug in coins and get exactly what you want. Your business is not important in the long run. What is important is what you are feeling right now: communion with me. Oneness with me is the only goal that matters now or in the eternities.”
I felt reprimanded for using God as a vending machine, but it was the sweetest reprimand I have ever received.
Soon I sold my publications while supporting my family on a part-time consulting contract. I began working hard to complete my Ph.D and finished it a year sooner than I ever thought possible.
Then I was contacted by a university that asked me to join them in Kazakhstan. I felt strongly that it was what the Lord had in mind from the beginning.
Nine years later, I’m at another crossroad, and I’ve been on my knees again, asking God to do with me as he wishes and remembering Christ’s great intercessory prayer (John 17:17-26), “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”
I’m far from a perfect man, but I have a perfect testimony that the Lord loves us. And no matter where this twisting road leads us, we should travel it in communion with God because that’s all that really matters.
Ken Harvey is a Tri-Citian about to begin a new job as a professor of communications at Xiamen University Malaysia. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.