As you guys know, this year has been a pretty tough one for the family. A lot of things have happened, some of which I can share and some of which I can`t. The one thing I can share with you guys and that I have done previously is that my company was liquidated in February. In fact, somebody told me that we were probably one of the first companies in South Africa to be affected by the Sub-Prime crisis in the States. Like I always say, if the USA sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold. In this case, our company got pneumonia and died.
Now, being out of a job is no fun place to be. I have always been pretty succesful in my career and things have come pretty easily. Blessed probably describes how lucky I have been. Promotions came pretty quickly and the money was good too.
Just to show you how lucky I was, consider this. The day after the company folded, I got a call from one of our main competitors and they offered me a job there and then. They promised me a whole lot of things and of course I took the job. Unfortunately it was a question of over-promise and under-deliver on their side. I stayed loyal to them for as long as I could but eventually I realised that it is not something that would be sustainable. The business plan was never gonna succeed. I ended up leaving.
So for the last few months I have been looking for work. That is not the best place to be in you`re a white South African male. You see, we have a thing here called BEE or Black Economic Empowerment. Companies have to employ black people to eradicate the inequalities of the past. What it comes down to is that white men are last on the pecking order when it comes to jobs. So, even though you might have the best credentials for a job, the fact that quotas have to be attained might mean that you lose out to a less qualified person. This is our society and I understand this completely.
This coupled with the bleak economic outlook worldwide has made the last few months a very tough time to be a jobseeker.
That brings me to my faith. I would be a liar if I said that my faith never waivered. I have had many a day, sometimes weeks at a time, where my faith ebbed away. Every prayer went unanswered, or so it seemed. Every time an opportunity came up, something happened and it was taken away. One example. I got a call from a previous company and they were getting ready to offer me a job, an awesome job at that. Something I would be really good at and that would have meant good things financially. Then, the day where they were to call me with the good news, the company`s Exco sat and made a decision that an immediate freeze was to be placed on all external appointments. I was devastated. I had prayed so hard and so long and basically begged for this job. God decided no. I could not understand it. So close but yet again an opportunity was taken away.
So on one of these days, where I was crying out for something, anything, I drove to Gordonsbay (which is about 10 minutes from here). I was on the way back when I noticed on my cars computer that the kilometers done on the tank of petrol was 341 and the distance I could still travel was 341. I thought that was quite a coincidence. I mean the distance left on the tank changes so much and so quickly, depending on the speed etc etc. Literally a minute later I drove past a little sign and I still don`t know what the purpose of this sign is but it just had 34 on it. A white 34 on a blue background. Was God talking to me?
Now I am a numbers guy. I am and have always been very good with numbers. So for me, I saw this as a bit of a sign. You do tend to hold onto the small things when you have nothing to hold onto anymore. So with Hillsong playing in the background, I had a feeling that God was using something I understand, numbers, to show me the way.
I raced home and immediately checked the Bible for clues. I checked for the 341st chapter of the Bible, page 341, every chapter 34:1 and so it went on. Nothing. Then I reckoned that I would get a call with good news at 3:40 or 3:41. Yet again a dead end. But the number 34 stuck in my head.
That was 2 months ago. A few opportunities have come and gone in that time. I have had good days and a lot of bad days. All the while I kept looking for 34 and the sign that I was so sure was around the corner.
That brings me to Monday, 24 November. I woke up and decided to read my Bible. I opened it up at Acts 13 and started reading. Then something caught my eye and I saw at the top of the next page, where it shows the last verse on the page, it said Acts 13:34. It said the following:
The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words: "I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David"
Immediately I knew that God was talking to me. I was expecting a call that day with feedback on a possible interview. Suddenly I knew that the interview was going to be confirmed. This happened later that day. The person who gave me the lead for this job is another Christian who has walked the same path as me during this year. He was also affected by the liquidation, maybe more than anybody else. I phoned him to tell him that I got the interview and when I put the phone down I noticed that the call was made at 3:40 pm.
So on Tuesday morning I read my Bible and opened up at Matthew 21. I looked up at the top of the next page and what dit it say? Matthew 21:34. It read:
When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
I have been using my Mom`s Bible since she passed away and it is full of her notes and markings. It`s one of my favourite and most special things on this earth. She marked Matthew 21:22 and it read:
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer
On Wednesday morning, I opened up the Bible to Matthew 6. Guess what was at the top of the next page? Matthew 6:34. It read:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Wednesday night, Hayley and I were in bed and I opened up my Bible at Acts 10. At the top of the next page it said Acts 10:32. I was a bit disappointed as I was expecting another miracle cos I had been spoiled! I read the chapter and when I turned the page my heart nearly stopped. So guess which verse was marked, by my Mom in pencil? Acts 10:34 and it read:
34 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
So yesterday I flew to Johannesburg for the interview. Before I left I took a card out of my Bread of Life box, which has promises from the Bible in. Well, the one I picked was Matthew 21:22, the same verse my Mom had highlighted and which I read on Tuesday night.
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer
As a final incident, while I was waiting for my rental car the tv caught my eye. It was some netball match (in which I have no interest whatsoever) but the one shot I saw the player wore the number 34.
Now I don`t know exactly what all this means. I am obviously on a journey with God and I really don`t know what He has planned for me. What I do know is that He is with me always and I do not need to worry or feel alone anymore. He has truly rejuvenated my faith.
I do not know if the interview I went to was THE one. I do however know that I don`t have to worry anymore. I can trust God cos He has made it clear to me that He is interested in my lfe and that He cares for me deeply.
What is your 34?
Ps. A Google search for 34 revealed Psalm 34, Praise for Deliverance from Trouble.
How much does our God rock?