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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sometimes Following, Means Waiting.

      It seems I spent the first half of my life running from the Lord and the second half waiting on the Lord.  It was not that the Lord had changed what or how he was doing things.  It was that I finally started to understand what he was doing and how he does things.  If you follow him long enough you will find you can take His Word to the bank.  What it says will happen, will happen.  The verse that you reap what you sow is so true.  As we live longer and look back over the course of our life we will see all the mistakes we made coming back to us.  The times we mistreated people or did things wrong will become clear to us as the same thing happens to us, our family or our children.  It is not that it is unfair, it is what we have sown too.  We may think we got away with it, but suddenly we see the same things, we did to others, happening to our children or loved ones.

      In another verse it says we are to put our shoulder to the plow and never look back.  Once we become saved we are supposed to walk away from our former habits and lifestyles.  It may not be all at once but we should be striving to walk closer to the Lord.  We are to keep our eyes focused on him.  There is something else we need to know about plowing that may open our eyes a bit. The reason we are not to look back is that our old habits may cause us to waiver as we go.  When you plow you do not plow in a straight line forever.  Just like the seasons you plow in circles and eventually come back to where you started.  This is when we start to see the errors of  our ways.  Most of us tend to use our past lives to show how far we have come.  It is not that we are proud of our mistakes. It is just that we can see where we made mistakes as we come around the course again.  This time maybe we can straighten some of the errors we made in the past.  Once we are saved we need to pray for crop failure on all the bad seed we sowed.  Then start planting new seed.

    One of my major problems as I learned to walk with the Lord was my desire to apply what I learned.  When I learned one little thing I would take off with a zeal thinking I had it all figured out.  Then I would get carried away.  When I finally looked around I would discover the Lord made a turn several blocks back.  Guess who had missed all the points in between.  My wife often told me I  used the truth like a club.  She was right.  Sometimes a little tack would have gone much farther in getting my point across.  The person I was talking to usually already knew the truth.  My goal was to show them the benefit of walking in the light of that truth. Usually my past was the point that made the connection.  It was simple to show them from my own experience why changing was to their advantage.  The nice thing about that is that it can be done with conviction.  I could explain the price of not walking in a straight line.  Even if I never looked back the past is still there.  The neat part of it is that the Lord will take the bad things in our lives and change them from a sin to a testimony.

    The transition from being carried away with zeal to waiting on the Lord did not happen over night. In fact it took many years.  It was when I started seeing answered prayers that took several years to come to full bloom that things started to change in my life.  It was a transition from zeal, to planting my heals and saying I am not moving till I know the Lord is in it.

    For me that transition began when I finally decided to quit fighting God and surrender.  I learned to drive a truck in Vietnam, while running from God.  Then when I left the Army I tried everything in my power to open the door to drive and it would not open.  I finished college, started a business, went bankrupt and finally when I got to the bottom asked God to show me the way out of the mess I had made of my life.  As I had no money I started by tithing my time in studying the Bible.  I spent 2 1/2 hours a day studying His Word.  At first it was easy, I was unemployed and could not find a job.  Finally I started going door to door looking for a job and finally got a job at a moving company.  They put me in the warehouse doing inventory and repacking crates for storage or for shipping.  After a few months my boss asked me if I could drive a truck as one of the driver's called in sick.  One thing led to another and soon I was driving full time for basically minimum wage.  Several months later the door opened to get an over the road trucking job.  Which I was sure was what I wanted.

    The first job I got was for a union company and I stayed there for three years.  It was a two hour drive one way every time I went to work.  Then I would be gone two or three weeks at a time.  While the pay was better it was not great.  Finally a chance to get a job for a company closer to home opened up.  This job lasted about a year and then I quit in frustration.  A few years and a few jobs later I found myself sitting in the unemployment office.  My interview went something like this, "I don't care what kind of job you have as long as it is not a truck driving job."  A month or so later the counselor called me.  "I found a job I think you ought to at least check out."  Finally I gave in and went and checked it out.  It was everything I told the counselor I wanted.  Home every other day and decent pay.  All the jobs I had taken over the past five years or so paved the way to opening the door.  The employer was a Vietnam Vet like myself and we hit it off and I really did like the job.  The job lasted almost five years.  Then the day before Thanksgiving in 1993 I came in from my usual run to Alabama.  My boss met me at my truck and gave me some bad news.  Don't bother to come in Monday as they were closing the doors.  It was a shock, but we had kind of been expecting it due to things that had happened in the last few months.

   On the way home I had a talk with the Lord.  I thanked him for the job and told him I was not taking another job till I knew his hand was in it.  Thursday I gave a sincere Thanksgiving Day prayer and asked the Lord to keep and guide me in all I did.  Friday I went to the local junkyard to get some parts for my daughters car.  While there I ran into one of my old bosses.  I had hauled produce for him after leaving my first over the road job.  He asked what I was doing and I told him my story.  He said he would check around and see if any of his friends needed a driver.  That night I got a call and a job offer that seemed to good to be true.  I turned it down.  I told the caller I was going to wait and see what "The Lord wanted me to do"  Which probably made me sound like a nut case to him.  Well I got unemployment for about five months and things were not looking good.  Finally I said to the Lord.  "I thought I heard you and I believe you will provide a way, but I am not seeing it.  I think it may be time to go back to work."

     Shortly after "Our Talk" a situation arose that required me to take action.  I lived on a dead end road and there was one property past mine.  It was being logged off and the trucks coming to get loaded would fly by my driveway.  Finally I went to ask the person in charge to have his trucks slow down a little when passing my driveway for the safety of my grand kids and pets.  In the course of our conversation I mentioned I was a truck driver and that I understood his need to get things moved.  He offered me a job hauling logs and I told him I was not into that.  I preferred an over the road job.  He then offered me a job that exceeded my wildest dreams.  He said he would give me a truck.  That I could go where ever I wanted and run it like I owned it.  All I had to do was call him on Fridays and tell him how much he owed me and where to take the check.

    Suddenly a light came on.  This was the same offer I had been offered the day after Thanksgiving.  In the course of our conversation I realized he was the same one who had called me.  Finally I figured if the Good Lord bought him down here and put him virtually on my doorstep the Lord was definitely in it.  So I accepted the job and it all went fine for about six months.  He was good to his word and did what he said he would to, but he did not want to work on the truck and it was getting to where I did not trust it.  He offered to buy me a brand new one and even took me to the dealer.  However, I declined the offer and told him he did not want to do that.  If the Lord moved me I would quit and do something else and he would be left hanging.  Well about a month later I did quit, but not with out much soul searching.

    Sitting in a truck stop in St.Paul, MN a situation arose that made even me question my sanity.  The four years or so that I spent tithing my time to the Lord helped me to trust that God would give me direction.  The question was, was I open to receive it.  While sitting in the truck stop that day after my Bible reading I became convinced it was time for me to step out on my own and get my own truck.  I prayed about the matter.  Then I figured a way to test the matter.  I told God if he wanted me to take this step he should arrange for me to go to the truck dealership across the street.  If it was his will he would make it happen or open the door for it. Then I let the matter go.  After finishing breakfast I called my boss and asked where he wanted me to leave my truck so he could change the oil in it.  It was one of the maintenance things he did not hesitate to do.  Well to make a long story short, he said he and his wife were going to be out of town over the weekend and for me to get the oil changed out on the road.   Something that had not happened in the six months I had been working for him.  After I got off the phone I asked the waitress where you signed up to get your truck serviced.  At the fuel desk or the shops out back of the truck stop.  She informed me the shops in the back were a private company and that the truck stop had no garage.  Most drivers got there work done at the shop across the street.  Yes at the truck dealership.  Then I saw it.  On the fence next to the gate was a sign for an oil change special at just $79.95.  While I did not normally get it done I did know that normally the price was between $109 and $129 dollars.  So it saved my boss money, supposedly.

    After paying for breakfast I went to the dealership's garage and signed up to get my oil changed.  There was a 3 to 4 hour waiting list.  While I did not want to wait the mechanic informed me later in the day the line would be much longer.  So I signed up.  The waiting time was spent looking at trucks.  Finally I found a 1973 W900 Kenworth with a coffin sleeper, no air conditioning and no power steering.  It was very Plain Jane as trucks go.  After some time I spoke to a salesman and told him I would like the truck and that all I had for a down payment was $1500 which was all I had in savings.  The salesman informed me that they did not usually finance trucks over five years old.    He said they usually sold trucks like this one to farmers for cash.  Then he gave me an application and said to go ahead and fill it out.  It would not hurt to try.  So I did and basically forgot about it.  He was sure it would not go through.  After my bosses truck was ready I headed home, but not before they had to do about a $400 repair job.  They found one of the battery cables had rubbed bare and was arcing on the frame rail near the fuel tank.  A very dangerous situation.  I had been occasionally smelling something like burning wiring.  Now I knew what was causing it.  Had I not gone to the shop I might not have made it home.  I thanked the Lord for his intervention and my boss cursed the Lord when he found out how much it cost him.  The things that happened gave me peace with what I had done.  It was not the first nor the last time my life was saved by taking a matter to the Lord and doing what I felt he moved me to do.

     About three days later my wife called me.  She was highly irate.  She said she had received a phone call.  It had something to do with me buying a truck and she wanted to know why she had never heard anything about it.  I explained to her that the dealer had told me it would not probably happen.  Well it did and I had seven days to get up to St. Paul and pickup my truck.  That weekend I went home cleaned out my truck and took it to my boss.  He was not happy with me over the lack of notice, but as I told him.  When he hired me I warned him I might quit without notice and I had.

   Left out one small part.  Before giving the down payment check to the dealer I had taken it to my companies garage to get it checked out.  They normally did not put on trucks over five years old unless they inspected them first and made sure they were safe and road worthy.  The truck had passed. So I hitch-hiked to St. Paul and picked up the truck.  Went to my company office and waited for them to overnight me permits and paperwork.  Then I got my first load.  The load went to Pueblo, CO and delivered the following Monday.  When they gave me my cash advance for the load that was the start of my trucking career as an owner/operator.  That money was all the money I had to operate on.  For the next nine years that is how I operated.  What I had was the money in my pocket so to speak.  Yet I survived it till I had a heart attack which ended my career, but even in that there was a blessing.   You can read that in my testimony which is in a book I published on my blog in seven parts for free.  Part one of Further Down the Path is my 3/23/2012 blog post.   The book explains some things I learned from studying the Bible over the years.  If you read nothing else, read the last chapter as it explains how all the pieces fit together.

     This is the first story in what will eventually be a biography/testimony of my walk with the Lord.  Further Down the Path started out as this book, but I decided to separate the Bible Study from the biography and it went from 186 pages down to 44 pages.  Now it is my goal to share how the Lord has guided my steps over the years and some of the many times he has intervened on my behalf so I am even here to tell this story.

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