And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
As a final postscript to my decision to leave Lenox and join World Vision, God gave me an extraordinary opportunity to glimpse the life I might have had. Ten years after I left, I returned. I was traveling in the Philadelphia area and e-mailed an old colleague at Lenox to ask him if I could drop by and say hello.
About a dozen old friends gathered in a conference room to “catch up” on all that had happened in the decade since I had left. I listened as they recounted a horrific tale of sadness and pain. Though Lenox had enjoyed record sales and profits in the first couple of years after I left, things started to unravel in the years that followed. In those ten short years, Lenox had a succession of five CEOs as the market contracted and sales and profits fell. They were forced to close five of their six US factories and lay off thousands of employees. Finally, they were divested by their parent company and merged into a smaller company.
When it was my turn to share, I told them of the amazing opportunity I’d had to travel the world, helping children and communities. I told them of a board of directors who prayed for me and a leadership team who had all taken huge cuts in pay to join what God was doing in the world. I shared what it felt like to get up each morning knowing that God was using me to make the world a better place. Hearing the excitement in my voice, one of my former colleagues blurted out: “It sounds like heaven. Do you have any job openings there?” Heaven, indeed; the kingdom of heaven, in fact. God had invited me into his vision for human thriving. He had invited me to the front lines of his revolution to change the world, and, thankfully, I had said yes.
As I look back on that decision now, I have the acute realization that I could have said no. Jesus wasn’t forcing me; he was inviting me. But first I had to lay down my old life for the new life that was behind the curtain, before I really knew what the curtain would reveal. I am quite sure that if I had said no, someone else would have been offered the incredible opportunity to partner with Jesus by serving at World Vision.
Two weeks after my reunion visit, Lenox declared bankruptcy. A few weeks after that, I received a letter saying that the Lenox executive pension I had been receiving for several years had been canceled. In case I had any remaining doubts, God was showing me with great finality that I should rely on him alone for my security.
Looking back on your path to where you are now, how have you seen God intervene? Has he given you glimpses of alternate paths you chose not to take?
Father, thank you for knowing and wanting and being what is best for me. Please help me remember to listen to you and trust your direction.