Thursday, 19 May 2016

New Beginnings

Since my last post in September things have become very different. In fact, my life seems almost unrecognisable to what it was and I'm happy to say, all for the right reasons.

Little did I know that not more than two months after my last entry on here, things would become so hard in my job that I felt I was heading for a serious emotional breakdown and all of my determination to stay in a job which was extremely challenging would be severely fractured. I guess, looking back on things now, it was meant to be that way in order for God to teach me more about relying on Him, but I can honestly say it was flipping hard to do so.

For one thing, the Northern Beaches of Sydney is not the cheapest area to live with a job, let alone without one. So without a steady income it would always be a massive up-hill struggle. And secondly, I had been feeling that my career would take a severe blow to go from project managing to carpentry in a matter of days. Why was this happening and also so close to Christmas? I mean, to me it looked really bleak.

But lastly, it was more about how I was feeling inside. I felt like I had lost direction, focus and drive, all of which I thought were the things still driving this crazy Australian adventure. Without these, how was I going to keep going?

In December I had two jobs, one I thought was my ideal job, working on a refurbishment of a Porsche Centre in Sydney. It seemed like the perfect 'reward' for all my hard efforts but in reality it was a shocking week and a half. If I were to sum it up, I would simply refer to that moment as a blip. Nothing more. The second job was working with a decking company. Again, probably one of the worst weeks ever but I guess it paid a weeks rent.

It was now nearly Christmas and we were out of money - literally had $7 in the bank and savings which would only cover the rent and nothing else. I had had a small interview with a property maintenance company and the guy had promised to employ me, but also agreed with me that to get over the previous month's catastrophic job flop I should not start until the new year. What were we as a family going to do? We had no money for Christmas presents and the kids had been amazing and we desperately wanted to treat them. So my wife and I did the one thing you can do in a situation like this - go shopping.

Armed with our $7 we went to a store to pick up some hooks which my wife wanted to get for some pictures. The only trouble was the picture hooks were $7.50 so it would mean I'd have to transfer money into her account from our rent savings. So, stood on a street corner with a rather desperate expression on my face I logged into our account (which I'd done about two hours before we left for the shops) to transfer the $0.50 required. But something had changed as I stared at the iPhone screen. The balance staring back at me was $4,000 more than it was two hours ago! WHAT? I looked again in case I had made a mistake, but I hadn't. Both our accounts were in credit by more than we'd had in any month at any point in the year when I was on a really good salary. I later found out it was because the tax office needed to make an adjustment based on my low earnings the year before and had finally got around to it!! God had provided BIG TIME.

When we realised what had happened it was the most amazing feeling. We knew in that short moment of time that regardless of circumstance, God would always continue to be our provider. And this time around He hadn't just given us a little, He had heaped blessings on us and we had one of the best Christmases as a family, ever. He is good all the time, right?

After our lovely Christmas I was due to start my job on January 5th. Weirdly though, I just couldn't sleep the night before my first day. My spirit was so uneasy with things and all I kept thinking about was whether I had made the right decision to work for this guy or not. By the end of the first day I knew I hadn't. It was yet another red herring and I couldn't believe it. Not only was the guy's company completely out of money, it had no vision and the guys working for him had no drive. It was bad. The owner also requested that in order for him to be insured I would need to apply for my carpentry licence. This would mean me spending $400 on something I didn't think I needed as I was going to be on salary. But then the big bombshell hit - "I won't be able to employ you for the first six months," he said.

What? So not only did he lie about the job but I would have to spend $400 with money which I was trying to save. But it's funny in a way, though. You see I was just saying about how God provided for us but again I was being tested to see if I had got this in my spirit, but I have to say that I failed. Just like Jesus' disciples when they were asked to feed the second hungry crowd and had forgotten how Jesus had provided for the first crowd, I was doing the same here - I had a disbelieving heart and had taken my eyes off the Provider.

Keen to keep working I went ahead and got my carpentry licence, as required, but the strangest thing happened when I walked out of the Office of Fair Trading with it. I felt to give up my job and trust God that He would come through for me instead of working for a company I now knew was trading illegally. I was going to do this God's way.

It's interesting the things you remember as a Christian, especially when you trust Him and let go. That afternoon, my wife and I experienced a supernatural peace like nothing we'd had for ages. It was so amazing and it will forever be there to remind me what what it feels like to trust God rather than fear circumstance. It's like I felt this complete reassurance that He would do something amazing. And, I'm glad to say, He did.

A week after this moment of letting go, and picking up a bit of casual carpentry work provided for by two amazing families in the church, I received a phone-call out of the blue asking me to attend an interview the next morning in the city for a job working within the facilities (maintenance) department at my local (10 minutes on a bicycle) Westfield mall. The strange thing was that I couldn't remember applying for the role and not only that, I had apparently applied back in November right at the end of my project management job. I curiously accepted and the next morning turned up at Sydney's main Westfield mall and breezed through the interview. It was like I was always meant to have been there. Sure enough the next day I received an email saying I had made it to the second interview at Warringah Mall. Again, the interview was like a dream and I was offered the job. A full-time, salaried position for Westfield. But the story doesn't end here, it gets better.

My wife asked me when I would get paid and I said it was monthly. We knew (or thought we did) that we'd have to find rent for four weeks as I would be paid a week after starting and then not until the following month. It was going to really stretch us but we just knew it would work out. Shortly after receiving confirmation of employment I was asked to go back into the city to sign my paper work. At this point the girl who had handed me the paperwork said, "just for your info, on Friday you will receive your first week's salary as well as three weeks in advance pay, so in effect you'll receive four weeks pay!"

If there was ever a look like that cartoon image of the jaw dropping to the floor, this was it. Not only had I been given a job but God had met our needs in spectacular fashion. But perhaps the funniest part of all of this was that Westfield had to pay me the highest rate of pay for my role because I had a carpentry licence! That means, if I hadn't have worked for the guy at the beginning of the year I probably wouldn't have been able to accept this job due to what the renumeration package would've been without it. Just wow.

Astounded by God's goodness and grace I can honestly say that these last few months have been amazing. There are so many things I could write down that He has done but I'd be here (and so would you be if you continued to read) forever. Sure, we have experienced a few financial mountains due to a smaller pay packet (for now) and have been hit by some big bills but we know that if God can provide the dream job after literally years of wrestling with bad jobs, then He can overcome all our issues for us and all we have to do is rest in Him. And to really hammer this point home, God has also provided for my wife a really great part time job at a secondary school which our son will be attending next year! So we are now both earning :)

Right now I feel like as a family we are finally on the cusp of something huge and we are starting to see fruit from that long time of pruning which I have to say was so very hard. When we didn't understand what God was doing, we tried to trust Him and focus on the fact that He has always known our future before we ever did.

I have heard it said many times before and now I actually believe it myself - if you look back over all the hard times you will always see where God has proved Himself to be a faithful and loving Father who intimately knows our every need.

I really hope this story has blessed and encouraged you as it has me.