Sue and I had a relaxing time at the Pastor/Spouse Retreat last week. We heard an excellent speaker, experienced fine fellowship, and ate good food. In a get-acquainted exercise we were asked to answer the question, “What is one thing about you that your congregation back home doesn’t know about you?” And I realized that there may be something about me that some of you don’t know. So this morning it is confession time.
Most of you know that Sue and I spent 15 years in Japan as missionaries. In 1981 when we returned to the U. S., we decided to live in Chicago one year. In some ways that was a wonderful year. We participated fully in a large congregation that accepted us and loved us. When I say fully, I mean Sunday school, choir, invitations to people’s homes and even as their paid janitors –because we had no job. What’s more the co-pastors were a husband and wife. He was also a public elementary school principal. They became role models for us. In that sense it was a wonderful year.
But in another sense it was a difficult year. I could not find a job. I sent out resumes all over the U.S., applying to colleges, universities and companies. I had not finished my Ph.D, yet, so colleges couldn’t use me. I had too much education for some jobs and those companies didn’t want me. “Over qualified,” they said. It was the subject of our prayers every day. In the meantime, one church member hired me to help him do odd jobs. Pastor Joe hired me at his elementary school as temporary janitor. And I taught some courses at the community college, but I could not find a permanent job. I was embarrassed, depressed, and discouraged.
I know that some of you have experienced those feelings. You have tried and tried to get a job and nothing opens up. You have filled out resumes. You have gone to all the right places. You have prayed about it. And you are tempted to give up or to take a job that is illegal or immoral. I know how that feels. I was getting desperate.
Finally, I decided to take things into my own hands. I thought there must be some employer out there who needs someone with my qualifications. They just don’t know about me. So I prepared an ad for the Chicago Tribune.
After all, I was fluent in Japanese. My training was in communication. And I almost had my Ph.D. I got half a dozen calls. The one I remember best was the one that went something like this. “We are a company that has clubs all over the world and we’d like to open some in Japan. Would you have any objections to working for Playboy?” Short conversation. Some of you didn’t know that. In some ways, I suppose it served me right.
We have come to the final message from II Samuel. If you have followed David’s experiences through this book you have seen that his life took a nose dive. He was anointed king over Israel, but he became a moral failure and a bad example. In his psalm in Chapter 22 he says, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer…” These words express his trust in God. He recognized how dependent he is upon God. But, unfortunately, in Chapter 24 he takes things into his own hands instead of depending on God.