Who Am I?  Part 16

The last “Who Am I?” article left off with Jill and the boys in Prince Edward Island (PEI), while I closed out my time of ministry in the Manitoba church.  Even though in my heart I did not believe that I was a failure, it still felt like I was one as I drove the U-Haul truck alone across Canada while pulling our car behind on a trailer bed.  I had experienced two poor church ministries in a row, and now I was heading east to no job, and an unclear future with respects to ministry or mission work.

Mile after mile I contemplated what had gone wrong, and what could have been done differently.  Things didn’t look good, and so I also wondered what else might go wrong.  Well, let me tell you.  In the early evening while driving alone on an empty highway in northern Ontario, I looked back in my side mirror and all of a sudden I saw flames coming out of the right side tire of the trailer.  I immediately pulled over and saw nothing except some loose sand to throw at the fire.

Somehow the brake on the trailer tire had seized up and I had been driving for miles with a locked tire without knowing it.  The rubber burst into flames and I stood there helplessly as I saw the tongues of the fire start to go up towards my car on top of the trailer bed.  YIKES!!  And wouldn’t you know it, a car came around the bend and it “just happened” to be a Forest Ranger in his jeep.  He put out the fire with his extinguisher and was able to help me change the tire and unlock the seized brake.  (Needless to say I got a new trailer from U-Haul at the next town.

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That was the most exciting thing that happened along the way, so I won’t bore you with the details of getting a leak in my truck radiator in New Brunswick, or how I had to stop every 10 miles or so to top up the rad, and that part of that required me to keep going down the steep road side ditch to fill my 2 Liter Coke bottle with the trickling ditch water.

I think the trip took me 5 days to get to PEI, but it felt like a month of doing hard labor.  In the two months that Jill and the boys had been back in PEI (where almost all of her living relatives were at the time), she had found a job at a senior care home, and the boys had been enrolled in a very good preschool day care.  They had set up a family routine without me, and I wondered at first where I even fit anymore, even within the family.

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I realize now that was my human mind speaking, plus I’m sure the Devil was having a great time dragging me down further and further into depression and self-incrimination.  But God would not have me stay in that place.  We had begun to attend a church there in Charlottetown, and there was a minister (Pastor Terry) who saw me, and us, not as failures in ministry, but as “wounded soldiers”.  He introduced us to the church in that way, and asked them to love us back into good spiritual health.

What a gift that church and that minister were to me and my family.  But I wanted to do my part of paying our monthly expenses, and so I asked God to guide me into a good job that could provide for us financially.  A possible Associate Pastor position came open, but God (through Pastor Terry) let me know I was not ready yet.  I tried to get other jobs that sounded good, and paid well, but nothing came of them either.

What God did provide in the end was definitely not something I would have chosen normally.  But the only job I could get at the time, was to be a general “clean-up boy” for a construction company doing renovations to a condo building.  At first, my pride got in the way as I felt embarrassed to tell people what I was doing.  But then I slowly came to realize that there were some real blessings to doing this job.

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In my youth, somehow I had picked up the work ethics of 1) work hard, and 2) work diligently to please your employer, and go the extra mile if that is what is necessary to get the job done well.  After about a month of cleaning up the rubbish when the construction people were done, my employer had noticed how good a job I was doing and he gave me a raise.  In fact, in the 10 months I worked with him, he gave me four pay raises.

This helped tremendously to provide for our family.  But there was an even better blessing that came to me.  The boss came to trust my work so much, that he gave me a number of tough final cleaning jobs like stripping and rewaxing 18 stairwells by hand while crawling up and down the stairs on your knees.  That job alone took six months to do.  But the new fast equipment could not do the same kind of job a person could do by hand alone.

And it was during these six months of crawling up and down stairs on my knees, that I was able to spend time alone in prayer with God.  I literally was on my knees before God.  And He spoke to me through this period about the importance of being a person of humility and integrity.  These were qualities I had not learned well before, or during my previous ministry positions.

How I thank God now that He truly humbled me during that year off from ministry work.  And by the time I was finished being the building janitor and clean-up boy, God was ready to send us forward into the next phase of our Christian lives and our ministry experiences.  Stay tuned, there are lots of good stories ahead.

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