Friday, September 30, 2022

David & The Ark of the Covenant - August 2022 Journal Entry

 Our church is doing a Summer sermon series where different members share about 'This Verse Changed My Life.'  After the very first sermon, I considered which verse that might be for me, and immediately my mind went to 2 Samuel 6:14.  "...and David danced before the Lord with all his might..."  In fact, I've previously written a blog post (click here to read it) about why that verse impacts me so much.

The week after the first sermon in this series was shared, I couldn't get the idea of sharing about my own verse out of my head.  I texted the pastor to see if there would be a possibility of fitting me in the summer schedule.  It turned out that the schedule was full, but when the pastors found out which verse I wanted to share about, they wanted to squeeze me in.  I was pretty excited to be given 5-10 minutes to share in a service.  My shorter talk required me having to 'edit out' several interesting thoughts I had about David's relationship with God and God's heart for us.  I'll share those things in two blog posts - this one below, and this one I wrote earlier.

Bringing the Ark Home

In this previous post about the closing lines of Psalm 23, I talk about the value and importance a shepherd must put on a dwelling place to rest.  A shepherd back then would've spent all their time in the elements, keeping a watchful eye out for their sheep.  It was a 24/7 job with not a lot of comfort.  Coming back home to an actual dwelling with good shelter would be like a vacation for a shepherd. 

Should we be surprised then, when David's first priority after becoming king is to build a house for God?  Or, when God denies David that chance, David still does what he can to bring the Ark of the Covenant close to him and the protection of his home in Jerusalem?  Up to this point, the Ark had been on a rather nomadic (sometimes eventful - see 1 Samuel chapters 4-7) journey.  The shepherd in David wanted to put that past to rest - literally and figuratively.

Doing the Right Thing the Right Way

That's probably why he didn't stall very long after the tragedy of the death of Uzzah on his first try bringing the Ark into Jerusalem (see 2 Samuel 6).  Something like that would have definitely made me pause for a long time and question "Did I do the right thing?  Was it a mistake to move the Ark?"  I'm not sure David was even asking that question - I think he somehow knew in his shepherd's heart the getting the Ark to Jerusalem was the right thing to do.  So he started an investigation into "What did we do wrong?" and discovered that they weren't moving the Ark the correct way.

Interestingly, sandwiched around this story in 2 Samuel are a couple of stories where David is planning battles against enemies and the first questions he asks before doing anything are "Will God give us victory?  If so, what's the correct way to go about getting the victory?"  Unfortunately, he neglected apply this same line of questioning when moving the Ark.  

Where in my life did I do the right thing, but the wrong way?  Sigh.  I'm so thankful for grace and forgiveness because there are a litany of situations where I have managed this effortlessly.  Numerous times I haven't been a tactful communicator.  I tried to communicate the 'right thing' but unfortunately accomplished my goal in an insensitive manner and hurt/offended people.  Several times I've been onstage playing an instrument and either had to volume turned too high, the wrong sound patch configured, or played the wrong chord/notes and ended up creating an atmosphere of acute disharmony and cacophony.  Recently, I fell off my mountain bike while biking and braced my fall like I was landing on snow (as I skied for many years) instead of hard ground.  Oops.  The result?  A small pelvic fracture that makes it uncomfortable to sit weeks later.

I need to pause, reflect, and seek God's opinion before acting, speaking, and making weighty decisions.  

The Significance of the Ark

As I considered the significance of the Ark in this story, I was struck with the difference in what the Ark meant to David versus most other people at that time.  To David, the Ark signified the presence of God.  David wanted to build a physical temple to house the Ark.  He wanted it close to him, precious, protected. To the rest of the nation of Israel, it seemed to be more of a tool to be used to accomplish victory - the power of God.  It was a tool used in battle to try and assure victory.

Ark of the Covenant - God's presence or power?

Examining my own life, why do I seek and follow God?  Is it for His presence, or His power?  Definitely a sobering line of questioning.  I think the 'fruit' in my life - how do I react/respond to various circumstances - provides me with some answers.  When things go well, am I giving God the credit, thankfully rejoicing?  And when life is disappointing, am I blaming God, or happy that He's giving me an opportunity to become more patient and graceful (like Him)?  

David dances because his heart is in the right place.  He's thankfully rejoicing that the Ark is coming back to Jerusalem - home, close to him, and a place to rest.  It had lost its place as Israel's spiritual centre, but David, with God's help, was bringing it back.  Being a man after God's heart, he was ecstatic to see it coming back to its rightful place.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Career Change and Work in Calgary

Some Context...

Ewa and I knew that I would not be in the printing business the rest of my life.  The job at Webco in Leduc, Alberta was shift work, dangerous (lots of pinch points and heavy lifting) and many times I came home with my lunch uneaten because we worked straight through the day.  I was quite skinny and both Ewa and my Mom didn't like the way I looked.

But how to do a career change with two dependents and a house mortgage?  I didn't have a good answer to that question until my brother did a career change himself.  He always wanted to be a policeman and got a degree in criminology, but still wasn't hireable (at least at that time) because his eyesight wasn't good enough.  He decided to look for opportunities in a different career and discovered that he could transition to software development with a school in Calgary in 9 months.  When I saw the job offers he received when he finishing that school, you could've knocked me over with a feather.  I spoke to Ewa about it.  We prayed, and decided that I'd apply to the school and we'd see how things went.

God's Help

One of the minimum requirements of the school was a university/college degree, something I didn't have.  I was told I could alternatively write an essay to justify my case for applying without a degree to have that requirement waived.  With God's help, I accomplished that successfully. 

Then there was an exam requirement, which had to be written in person.  Again, with God's help I successfully got over that hurdle with apparently one of the highest scores they'd ever seen.

We sold our house in Edmonton and moved to Calgary so I could start school, using what we made on the house towards school tuition.  

I immensely enjoyed this new education, and worked hard to learn everything I could.  Unfortunately, two thirds of the way through the course, the school itself went bankrupt!  E&Y, the company that handled the bankruptcy, kept 3 of the 9 schools across Canada open and running so all the existing students could finish their schooling so long as they temporarily moved to those cities which still had schools open.  So I ended up wrapping up my schooling in Vancouver that fall and, with God's help, was awarded the 'School Spirit' award for my class.

Career change to software developer


Finding Work - God's Provision

 My schooling wrapped up in the fall of 2001, which was in the middle of the first major 'dot bomb' of the tech market.  No one wanted to invest money in software and technology after Nortel and other large .coms had gone belly-up that year.  Unlike my brother's easy road to work after school, I was did not find a full-time software job until 10 months later.  

Those were the longest 10 months of my life, with a 3 year old and a pregnant wife depending on me.  I questioned God, sometimes bitterly, during that time.  I struggled in my relationship with Him, my expectations of how He would/should provide, and issues I had with entitlement in that season.  It took me years to get over some of the feelings of abandonment and hurt I experienced.  That said, 10 months later, when it seemed there were no software jobs out there for unexperienced junior software developers, I got a phone call and an interview with a large software consulting firm in Calgary called CGI.  Here's an excerpt from my journal some time later...

Aug. 20, 2002

As of Aug. 12, I have been working with my new employer – CGI.  Again, it was totally a God thing how I got that job.  The human resources manager, Cara, saw my resume on workopolis.com where there are thousands of resumes.  She gave me a call in late June I think, and I had a ‘pre-interview’ with her about a week later.  ‘Pre-interview’ because she didn’t have a job position that she could hire me for at that point and time.  

She called back with the opportunity of a real interview for a real job.  Of all the crazy things, I misunderstood the directions for the location of the interview, and thought the office was downtown.  The interview was at 2:00 and at 1:53, I realized I was 60 blocks too far south.  So I called her and left a message to say that I would be late.  Twenty minutes later, I show up.  She appreciated that I left a message and the interview went well, except that I felt unorganized – I didn’t have my documentation that I thought I had, and I forgot to give her the references that I brought with me. 

Anyway, God gave me favour with her, because she kept my resume on the top of her Java pile, and around the end of July (I had already started working framing houses with Steve Sutherland by this time) she called me up to arrange a technical interview.  I made the arrangements talking on the cell phone in the roofing trusses of a house.  I found out I had the job soon after the technical interview and boy was I elated. 

Ewa thought it was interesting that I got this job pretty much the same way I got the job with Webco – they found me and called me, I didn’t call them.  It was a God thing.  I’m using totally the technologies and methodologies that I was hoping for. 

God's provision for us!   

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus
Philippians 4:19

Click here for more true stories of God working in my life

Friday, September 2, 2022

David - A Man After God's Heart - Aug 2022 Journal Entry

Our church is doing a Summer sermon series where different members share about 'This Verse Changed My Life.'  After the very first sermon, I considered which verse that might be for me, and immediately my mind went to 2 Samuel 6:14.  "...and David danced before the Lord with all his might..."  In fact, I've previously written a blog post (click here to read it) about why that verse impacts me so much.

The week after the first sermon in this series was shared, I couldn't get the idea of sharing about my own verse out of my head.  I texted the pastor to see if there would be a possibility of fitting me in the summer schedule.  It turned out that the schedule was full, but when the pastors found out which verse I wanted to share about, they wanted to squeeze me in.  I was pretty excited to be given 5-10 minutes to share in a service.  My shorter talk required me having to 'edit out' several interesting thoughts I had about David's relationship with God and God's heart for us.  I'll share those things in two blog posts - this one below, and the post at this link.

lamb, looking like he's ready to be a rascal and get lost

A Man After God's Heart

This whole thought process below stemmed from the question: 'What would motivate David to dance before the Lord with all his might?'  

Before David is introduced in the Bible, we find the prophet Samuel telling King Saul that God intends to have another person outside of Saul's family succeed him as the next king of Israel - a 'man after God's heart'.  1 Samuel 13:14.  

Samuel later finds David, overlooked by his family, watching the family's flock of sheep.  He anoints David as the next king and then leaves, and David drops back into obscurity until Goliath shows up.  At that point, something interesting happens.  We see David giving his 'battle resume' to King Saul, trying to convince the King to let him fight the giant. 

'But David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God."' (1 Samuel 17:34-36)

Growing up in British Columbia I was taught from an early age to avoid bears and lions (we had mountain lions).  And to never, never get between them and their food if you could help it.  What David talks about here with King Saul is a suicide mission.  He didn't use his slingshot to kill these predators - he used his hands!  Why would he take leave of good sense and save these lambs?  They weren't full grown and I'm sure there those weren't the only lambs in the flock - who would miss them?  Why does David care so much about a lamb, on more than one occasion?  

I think David loved his sheep.  Consider the 23rd Psalm - 'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...'  A person doesn't pen a poem like that without first hand knowledge, experience, and a love for his own sheep.  Love motivates people to do crazy things.  I believe David loved those little lambs and went after them because they were special to him.  They were his companions out on those fields, dear to him.

And God saw this!  I can see God saying 'Hey, look at this young fellow!  He's putting his life on the line going after that lion/bear to save his lamb!  Let's give him a little helping hand... he has a heart like mine.'  And when the dust and adrenaline had settled, David finds himself and his lamb still alive, and the lion/bear dead at his feet.  Time to celebrate!

'For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.'  2 Chronicles 16:9a

What was it that God recognized in David's heart?  Jesus said, 'Greater love has no man than this, than he lay down his life for his friends.'   Another time Jesus told three separate stories trying to help the pharisees see the heart of God:  

  1. The story of the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to find and save the lost sheep,
  2. The story of the widow and her lost coin, and 
  3. The story of the prodigal son.  
In each of these stories something precious was lost, subsequently found and restored to its place, and rejoicing followed...

And David Danced...

So what would make a fellow dance before the Lord with all his might.  Doing a little be of research I discovered that several Bible commentators think that men didn't traditionally dance in public in Israel at that time.  It wasn't done.  So what would make David do this? 

I don't think the story of David dancing before the Lord with all his might was David's first time dancing.  I believe he was comfortable dancing with all his might in public because he'd danced with all his might before, at least twice, privately, over the body of a carnivore that had to tried to steal his special, dear lambs.  I know if I had put my life on the line to rescue something so meaningful to me from a ferocious adversary and somehow claimed victory, I would definitely be celebrating!

And the same goes for the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  It was getting restored to its rightful place, close to David's house.  It had also been lost/stolen (by the Philistines) and also lost its place as Israel's spiritual centre, but David, with God's help, was bringing it back.  Being a man after God's heart, he rejoiced to see it coming back to its rightful place.

What Does This Mean to Me?

How do I apply what I learned here about both David, God, and their relationship to my life?  I think first and foremost, as I understand more of the heart of God and what He is like, my perspective of everything else changes.  This blog post by a friend (What is God Like by Phil Aud) talks about how important and foundational our understanding of what God is like is.  I'd like to believe that as God reveals Himself to me in meditations like the one above, I change - or rather, He changes me.  My heart softens and the desire grows inside me to emulate Him and His desires: Seek those who are lost, with Gods help find them and help them be restored, and rejoice along with them in their freedom!


The Names of God - Jehovah Shalom

Jehovah Shalom - God is my peace. Another verse that has been continually returning to my thoughts over the past year or so is Philippians 4...