He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
— Matthew 17:20
As I write this post, it is past seven months since losing Joelle to cancer. I’m in the second half of the season of firsts and the hardest day to endure was the first wedding anniversary without her. I have had a few mini tidal waves since, but I’ve managed to find a few things I like doing that seem like therapy. Believe it or not, one of them is barbecuing during sunsets. Don’t know what is about sunset barbecues, but I find them to have a calming nature to them. I have even managed to drag myself into the studio and work on some music. Perhaps , this is a part of Life 2.0 that I have yet to figure out. But I will admit that I am not crazy about this life at this time, mainly because I don’t have Joelle to share it with. I will admit, I find myself wanting to question God about it, because I just don’t get it. However, despite my anger and questioning, I find myself wanting to be closer to God. Honestly, here I am stuck in an emotional hurricane, and in many cases blaming God for it and I have often asked, “what kind of God are you, to let this happen?” And, as I kept my promise to Joelle in that I would not abandon God, and I would not quit the Bible study, I got my answer as to what kind of God He is: He is a loving God. The worst part of this is that I already knew the answer.
It’s not like Joelle and I never faced our share of hardships before. And in every hardship we faced, we never stopped trusting God. Even in our good times, we always felt God was behind those as well. I even remember times we stepped out in faith, such as the time I got fired from a dead-end job and Joelle telling me that she was pregnant with our fifth child. In our usual crazy selves, we said we would not wait for things to get better. We would have more children and make things better. This walk of faith was one of the best things to happen to us. Three days after we decided we would step out in faith, I get a call from EDS and my journey into a new career, and in many cases a new life, began. Mind you, that was a time when I knew Jesus and had faith, although it would be another three years before being totally lit on fire. But, yet, it was that mustard seed faith knowing that God loved us then that moved the mountains that we were facing.
I previously wrote of how I took a contract in Windsor in my last blog post, and the faith it took then. What I didn’t mention was how God pulled us through in the nineteen months that I had no real steady contract work. Let’s face it. We’re talking nineteen months of keeping a roof over our heads, food, electricity, and just the overall ability give our kids some kind of quality of life. Somehow, through the grace of God, all these things were met, either by the generosity of people, or small jobs writing music soundtracks for videos and short films. One particular soundtrack was for a play, called “Heaven’s Gates, Hell’s Flames”, and it taught me a lot about writing movie soundtracks, as well as audio production. Who would think in all this time being given small jobs, I was being taught at the same time? One example was the use of a distorted bass on a rock track. It just opened up my mind in music. But, aside from all of the musical skills that God was providing me, He provided me with the skill of having faith. And don’t think it wasn’t tested. I can still picture Joelle crying one night in the car, believing we were going to lose everything. She knew that I was doing everything I could to find work, but she still questioned why I wasn’t working. She would pray, but she felt her prayers weren’t being answered. A few days later, she looked at me and said, ” I don’t care if we wind up living in a tent as long as we’re together.” We surrendered it all to God. That seemed to be the day everything changed. I remember getting a paid ticket to the Promise Keeper’s conference. Our pastor saw me starting to have a breakdown and not only did he pray with me, he told me, “You have already seen God has brought you this far. How dare you to not have the faith that He will take you further than this?” Those words stuck with me even almost 14 years later. I remembered that Edwin McManus was speaking that year and he was talking about the biblical passages from his book “Seizing Your Divine Moment” and I became so inspired about it that I just had to read the book, which would have been somewhat of a first as I had not read a book in many years. In it, he talks about the many biblical queues that God provides David and Jonathan, especially with things that their enemies are yelling at them, to assure them the God is fighting their battles. It made me wonder if the same could happen to me. Believe it or not, I read another book that year, called “The Open Door”, by David Jeremiah. It was a similar idea of biblical queues that God provides, to show that he’s opening doors for us. Well, I don’t know what I did, but I decided to pray to God that if a job prospect says a certain group of words in a certain order, that would be my divine moment and open door. And, it’s not like I made it easy. I wish I can remember what I said, but I know I said something that assured me that God could do the same for me that He did for David and Jonathan. I’m not sure if God took it as a game or a challenge, or just wanted to show me that He was listening, because what happened next floored me. I received a call from a company in Windsor that was building automotive build and price kiosks for Chrysler and originally needed one Java developer and one Flash developer. When they spoke to me, they felt I could fill both roles. Then, all of a sudden, Amy, the HR person, out of nowhere said the phrase of words I told God. How the heck did she know that I was expecting these words? It’s not like I gave her any hints or any indication that I made this prayer deal with God. After I hung up the phone, I look up at Joelle in tears and said, “I think I am going to Windsor.” Of course, Joelle handled things far better than I did. She phoned her friend who owned an apartment block in Windsor which was walking distance from the shopping mall. Her response was, “there’ll be an apartment waiting for you when you get there.” Sure enough, I got the contract, and found myself in Windsor, but my faith would be further tested when I got there. My apartment was not ready when I started my contract there. I was basically living out of our van for over two weeks, relying on the grace of some friends taking me in at nights so I didn’t wind up freezing in the January nights. That’s when I started listening to a number of Christian artists that I listen to today. After all, the only good radio station was a Christian radio station in Detroit. Songs like “Walk By Faith” and “Child of Mine” became my anthems for getting through this time. Even when I got the apartment, I never stopped listening to these songs. Funny how God had to isolate me then from Joelle and the kids in order to work on me and start building my faith in what He’s doing. He also started building me up in other ways as I was still training in karate and had my weekly challenges from my Sensei, as I would be back in Guelph on the weekends. He pushed me towards my black belt and by the fall of that year, I was a black belt. That took not only faith in God, but believing that I could do it. They were both total leaps.
There is also my employment at BlackBerry. If that hasn’t been an exercise in faith throughout the years, I’m not sure what would be. Even leading up to working here was an exercise in faith outlined in The God I Know which I can only attribute to God’s hand in all of this. Even more attributable to having faith was the ability to weather all of the changes that BlackBerry has undergone. I can well remember Joelle feeling a sense of panic whenever layoffs occurred. I told her, “Wasn’t it God that brought us this far? If He chooses, He will carry us to new places. I’m not putting my faith in a company. ” I’d even be saying similar things to my coworkers. I knew God brought me there and God would bring me elsewhere should He choose.
Even now, I find God is keeping me stable. It’s definitely not by anything by my account. If anything, I’ve often had to deal with rounds of burnout and depression and it’s has been difficult. I admit that there are times when I wonder if God is listening. And then there are times looking at the cactus flower blooming in the kitchen window. That thing hasn’t bloomed like that before. I’m totally willing to believe that this is one way God is talking to me, letting me know He’s there. And I wouldn’t be surprised at all if He’s asking me the same question that my pastor asked me at the Promise Keeper’s conference:
“You’ve had the faith in Me to bring you this far. How dare you not to have the faith in Me to take you further?”