The Next Great Thing

Confessions of an Engineer

The Next Great Thing!

Reprint from October 2018

Be ever so aware that regardless of your surroundings, you are loved! That love brings hope, it secures trust. It focuses all things from the blur that spins around you in the whirlwind of chaos taking place about you.

We must learn to abide in His peace and comfort; exercising faith in His goodness and capability. Knowing fully despite everything to the contrary, He knows the outcome and can see past whatever appears before us. Even the things which we cannot imagine we could possibly go through.

He knows the way. He has our hand. He beats back the brambles with only a His intent to carry us further on our journey. He sees our destination, has plotted every contingency, to secure our position, and set us on the solid rock of our salvation, for His Glory!

We have only to wait and anticipate the next great thing He will do for us!

Read on…

I write these devotionals each day not so much out of duty but out of the desire to share the things that God has placed on my heart in my time in His Word.

For that reason, much of what I share with you is very personal and reflective of the things that God’s reminding me, teaching me about, or revealing to me for the first time.

I share that with you the reader, not for personal gain or gratification, but to share Christ Jesus and the experience that we share together as we anticipate with each and every breath the next great thing that God has in store for us.

Equivalence Equals Ambivalence

“Work as if everything
depends on you,
and pray as if everything
depends on God.”
[St. Augustine]

Unfortunately, we tend to get caught up in ourselves while attempting to exercise this formula. As popular as this phrase is too many of us, it seems that St. Augustine got it backward.

You see, this is what gets us in trouble in our walk with Jesus. We are not His equal and certainly not superior to Him or His will for us. So if we practice exactly as this phrase suggests,  we may get much accomplished, but we will not see what God’s accomplishing for us. We will miss the next big thing.

We are not equal in any way to Christ Jesus, therefore, the prayer portion of this phrase should come ahead of the work focus for us.  It should read and be practiced as “Pray as if everything depends on God, and work as if everything depends on you.”

If our expectation is that we must move the ball in order for the Lord to score a touchdown we are fools in our folly. He owns the ball, controls the wind, has provisioned the field we play on, and doesn’t just follow the rules, He is, the rules.

Our part in this field of play is to stand by and do what it is that He tells us to do and wait for the next big thing that He is going to do.

I don’t know a person who will tell you that their prayer life is so good that there simply isn’t anything more to pray about. Not anyone who understands who God is and who we are.

We threaten the blessings that He has in store for us when we position ourselves ahead of God’s plans. When we don’t wait for god, exerting our will and intent ahead of the leading of the Holy Spirit in each and everything in our lives, we place ourselves in front of the Lord.

Leaning

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (CSB)

We, I, seem to have a problem with that.

I try very hard to fight what I have come to understand is the biggest battle in my walk with Jesus.

We all have core functions from which all of our other attributes grow. Mine is the engineering function. I build things, fix them, make them work as they should, and find the solution to the issue.

I tend to be pretty good at it. That could be why I thrive on doing just exactly that, but let’s not get the sheep ahead of the shepherd. God’s fashioned me in this manner for His glory and nothing else.

But I think it is because of this core function built into me that I get myself in a pickle more often that I would like to admit. Show me a problem and before I’ve even fully gathered all the information there is a sequence of options streaming through my mind, just waiting for the best option to fall into place so we can get started on the resolution.

When I do this, I inherently isolate myself. Some other engineer types might try to correct me and say that it’s not isolation, but insulation. To combat this tendency I have had to learn to discipline myself to hold back initially and observe, study and contemplate the issues and all the parameters surrounding it before I begin turning screws and fashioning a solution.

If I don’t do this, I can alienate people unintentionally.

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 (CSB)

I didn’t do this yesterday and I paid for it last night.

In the same way, I can alienate God if I leap forward to take control of the things that He has placed before me.

And just a few verses later Paul says,

I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13 (CSB)

Which leads me to smile a bit because Paul sheds some insight into His core here. He’s that engineer at his core as well.  So, I’m not alone in this struggle. Paul says, “I am able to do all things” and yes, he says “through him who strengthens me”, but the phrasing leads me to believe that Paul suffered from this same tendency to get out over his skis as I do.

Paul maybe should have said, “Through the power of Christ working through me, I can do anything!”  Yes, it works inversely as Paul stated it, but for the simple minded like myself, it helps to keep things in their proper order lest I forget ‘Who’ comes first.

The Job Thing

Last night it got to me.

In the last couple of months as I have been on my job search, seeking out the will of the Lord for my vocational past time, I have done reasonably well at keeping cognizant of the fact that this is going to take a lot of hard work on my part, but ultimately, what I want and what must be the case is that Jesus be left in charge of the path forward.

He is the one that must lead me to this next opportunity because it is only through Him that I will succeed and it is only by His will in my life that I will prosper and be blessed by His complete provisioning of my needs.

Forget this engineer mentality that I have nestled away inside of me, He gets to show me the tasks and projects and I swing the hammer, it’s just how it goes. Or it is supposed to!

Last night it didn’t.

Last week the Lord dropped in my lap something that at first I questioned greatly because logistically, it seemed impossible on its face. (Do you see that engineer popping up his head immediately at the first sign of trouble?)

The job that my recruiter sent over to me, could easily be my ‘dream job’. The guy I’m working with at one of the firms that are representing me, brought up this opportunity working for an ‘unknown company’ up in Nashville, Tennessee.

Normally my first reaction would be ‘yeah, maybe if…’.

But given the fact that I’ve been out of work for two months now and have exhausted all of the financial reserves, this had some icing on it that really caught my attention, the employer wants someone ‘on-site working’ the 9th of November.

Not sure why that is the date they pinned to this, but it is. So, an impending start date fixed in time, says something is going to happen.

Reluctantly I began to look at it more closely and pray about it. The more I examined it, the more I realized that it really fit my profile quite well. The bulk of the responsibilities that were attributed to this job were well within my experience and in fact were things that I really enjoy accomplishing.

The few aspects that were not solid fits were things that would challenge me which I really need in my work and were things that I had little doubt that I could master as I ramped up to the task.

The impending start date would mean sooner rather than later, financial relief was coming if I were to get this job.

The Engineer in the Basement

As I mentioned, I pretty much have been able to restrain myself through this and keep my priorities in line with my understanding that God has this under His watchful control. I serve in a supporting role. I was good with that.

Then yesterday afternoon after I had prepared a five-page document requested by my recruiter to describe why precisely my skills and experience fit this position, my mind was triggered into logistics of the opportunity.

So, I thought I could check out some housing options in the area. Not permanent housing, but accommodations. I’d discussed strategy with my wife and had determined given the hurried time frame of this, that should I get this job that I would find weekday accommodations near the employer and stay in Nashville during the week, coming back to Alabaster Friday nights.

This would provide time for us to consider if we needed to move for this ‘long-term contract’ and if we did feel it necessary to move, buy us time to get the house in shape to prepare for a relocation to Tennessee.

What could it hurt for me to start gathering some information and looking around the area for possible accommodations and churches where I might attend a mid-week Bible Study?

It wouldn’t have hurt a thing if I hadn’t had my engineer hat on and fully intent on solving this riddle then and there.  I know. Foolish to even think about at this point, but I felt like it was something that I might be able to manage in a situation that I have felt I was unable to manage much of anything significant.

The more I researched, the more frustrated I became and by the time evening had come I was in a downward spiral, spinning out of control.

It wasn’t till I lay in bed last night that I realized what I’d done. I had neglected to put God first in this accommodation exercise and had gone out on my own. I hadn’t prayed about it, seeking God’s will, I hadn’t approached the issue attempting to understand what Jesus wanted me doing, it was something that I could grab and run with and I was running!

Confessions of an Engineer

I blew it.

Lord, I am so sorry that I ventured away from where you had me resting in your will. I let “the fixer” loose on the issue that I saw and didn’t consider, let alone come to you with a request for your assistance in the matter.

Let alone did I consider if it was your will that I start looking for accommodations yet or not.

Jesus, I’m sorry for this and ask your forgiveness. I’ll do my best to do better and put you ahead of my issues.       Amen! 

For all you other engineers at the core out there, please learn from my lesson.

God may not want me in this job. It’s entirely possible that that is the case. For me to expend excess energy to prepare for that eventuality is folly at this time.

All it did was cause me frustration, and panic. Oh and I bet the devil got a good laugh out of it too.

For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:32-34 (CSB)

Seek first the kingdom of God! You got me on that one Lord! I’ll abide and wait for “The Next Great Thing” you are wanting to accomplish for me.

**Update** It is now July 22nd, 2019. I have been on my new job located about 35 minutes from my home in Alabaster for a little over two months. The job in Tennessee fell apart due to insurance issues. God was faithful and I’m in a role now where i’m being utilized and challenged. People are great and the work is fun.

In the Grace of Jesus!
Kip…

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