Saturday, March 25, 2023

God's Provision With Work

God is Our Provider - Jehovah Jireh

In the post linked here I talk about how Abraham gave God the name of Jehovah Jireh because he had a profound circumstance in his life where he saw God providing for him.  In that post I include a couple of examples of how God reached down into my life and provided for me and us as a family.  In this post I'll share a couple more short stories of how God has provided for us.

In many cultures around the world, men are seen as the 'providers' of the household.  It was no different for me growing up, and so when I had a family I felt that same responsibility.  So it means a lot when God helps me and aligns my career so that I can stay working and provide for my family.  I see that as God's provision for us.  Here's a couple examples of that...

Career Change!

After working in the print/publishing industry through most of the 1990's, I could see that it was not a growth industry, and there were other career choices that I was more suited to and afforded more hope to make a decent living.  Background context for this career change can be found at this link.    In short, I quit my job as a printing pressman, and we moved our family to Calgary so I could get educated as a software developer.  We strongly believed God was in this decision to move and transition.

I started IT school in January 2001 and that spring saw the beginnings of the 'dot.bomb' era in the stock market.  Up to this point, investors had been bullish (enthusiastic) about investing in IT companies.  However several large IT companies had posted questionable numbers that spring (Nortel being the main Canadian example) and the bubble burst causing stocks to slide.  As a result many IT companies went into receivership...  including the IT school I was going to.  While our school was closed, the receiver kept the Vancouver school open.  They gave us a living allowance and had us finish school there.  Because of all this I knew the IT job market was going to be tough to get into for a 'newbie' like me.  I consequently tried to get a certification in Java programming while I was still in school.... and I failed that test.  I resolved to write the test again after school was done (and I had more time to study for it).  Upon finishing school, I studied for two weeks, wrote the test and passed.   God helped me press in and finish that goal.

Returning back home, I spent most of the next 10 months looking for work.  I called every software company in the yellow pages listings one by one, and asked for a job.  When I was turned down, I learned to ask if they knew of any other companies that were hiring.  I got a 2 month contract this way, but I completed it with no further opportunities.  We had been living off of our student credit line and in the end I had to take a job framing houses with a friend to make ends meet.  This felt terrible, kind of like a surrender.  However, after 4 weeks of framing houses, I got a call from a large IT consulting company who was interested in hiring me because of the Java certification I had persisted in obtaining after school. 

As badly as I wanted that java developer position, I managed to get lost driving to the interview.  (This was before the days of Google Maps)  Realizing I was going to be late, I phoned to let them know I was lost and confirmed the directions to the office.  Fortunately, I did well on the interview and they offered me the job.  God provided a great first job as a software developer for me when the industry was not hiring junior developers, and in spite of my fumbling tardiness to the first interview.  This opportunity was entirely God's favour and provision for us!

A Promise Kept

Having worked in the software industry for about 15 years, I had not had the opportunity to work at a software Start Up.  In 2016, that opportunity came across my path with some former co-workers.  I signed on as a contractor, and then 6 months later was encouraged to become an employee.   I would get paid substantially less as an employee, but I'd get stock.  I made a deal (really, a promise) with my wife that if and/or when our savings ran out in this employee situation, I would look for a contract position again.  

A couple years later, that's exactly what happened.  Our savings were nearly depleted as we'd supplemented our income from the start-up to keep paying all the bills.  It just so happened that within a week or two of our savings getting to a critical level, a fellow from a previous company I'd worked at contacted me with a well paid contract position.

I was a bit torn.  I really enjoyed working at the startup with my team, but I'd made a promise to my wife.  I asked God what to do, and He gave me a verse:  "You’ll go back to your old work of planting vineyards on the Samaritan hillsides, and sit back and enjoy the fruit—oh, how you’ll enjoy those harvests!" Jeremiah 31:5. Your old work?!  God didn't need to tell me anything else.  I realized then and there that this was His provision and direction for me.

software work - computer keyboard
Transitioning into that new position, I also realized that knowing God wanted me to make that move was crucial, as it was the encouragement I needed to stay there and persist in what we were doing.  I was part of a very small team with the responsibility to help set up a new discipline/department, and there were lots of challenges and things to learn.

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