God's Timing and Provision in My Life
God’s Timing and Provision in My Life
I was working at Harris Teeter in the Charlotte area, my first real job after getting fired from Chick-fil-A (another story, not that exciting). 17 years old, I had been there for a few months and discovered that it was incredibly boring. I usually only worked 4-5 hour shifts at a time, but they felt more like 10 hours. I assumed my only real option for full time work would be some sort of desk job. I wondered how I would possibly be able to sit behind a desk for 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week when I can barely handle standing in one spot for less than half that time.
A senior in high school, having pretty much no subjects that interested me, my career path wasn’t looking very promising. Science? Boring. History? Super boring. Math? Fine…until there were letters involved. The only thing that seemed to remotely interest me was cars. But there were no high school classes for that. The only experience I even had with cars was driving them and playing with my toy cars. At some point I found out that the community college I was taking classes at (doing dual-enrollment while still in high school) had a few automotive programs available. Specifically, they offered an associate’s degree in automotive repair for BMW. So, not even knowing how to do an oil change or having any idea of what that career would really consist of, I signed up.
Eventually, I completed the program and got hired working at Firestone for an internship. My plan was to work there for 4 months or so to complete my internship and get hired at a BMW dealership. So after many interviews and 2 years of working at Firestone, I finally received a job offer from a BMW dealership in Chapel Hill…to be their tire guy. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but it at least got me in the door.
In 2013, I accepted the job and moved to Durham, knowing no one. I just sort of thought I would join a church, make some friends, meet a girl, and get married. I found The Summit Church where I really enjoyed the preaching but found it a little difficult to meet people, especially given my very introverted personality. I joined a small group and then realized everyone in the group attended a different Summit campus than me. “Whatever, I tried, I’ll just stick with it.” A few months had gone by, and I was finding it difficult to connect. It was a great small group, but everyone there also attended UNC, which with my personality, again, I had a hard time “fitting in.”
My days consisted of work, Netflix, and sleep, except on weekends where I watched lots of sports, went to church, and watched more sports. I was pretty depressed. I wasn’t going anywhere in life. Monday night small group was the only time I interacted with anyone outside of work, so I decided to give it a few more chances. That was when this random guy in my small group named James Shafto asked me if I would be interested in joining “Dwell” (an intentional living community) and move to Chapel Tower apartments in an effort to reach a highly Muslim population. I didn’t know anything about Muslims. I’m super introverted. I’m on the verge of leaving this small group. The only thing I knew about Chapel Tower was that I drove through there looking for my first apartment and didn’t even get out of my car because I had already decided no. Also, I’ve never hung out with James outside of small group, plus I thought he was kind of weird to begin with. I asked him “When?” to sound interested. He said August.
August was the only reason the thought even stayed in my mind. That was when my current lease was up. I began to actually give it some real thought and seriously started to pray about it. I realized I was really ready for a change. I wanted to grow closer to God. I started to feel strongly that this is what I should do. There was also a part of me that just thought, “Screw it, I have nothing to lose.” I told James I would join. I later called my mom and was even more affirmed when she told me she had been praying that I would do something with my life (I can’t remember her exact words but that was the gist).
So I moved in with James, having literally no idea what I was doing. I was encouraged to attend this new church called “Waypoint” by a leader of Dwell because others involved would be attending. I had no intention of leaving Summit. The preaching was great, why would I leave? But, after more thought and prayer, I realized a much smaller church setting would probably be better for my non-outgoing self. I joined. Not far in, I was asked to help be part of the kid’s ministry. Thinking, “They must be really desperate,” I agreed.
Through Dwell, I met Nathan Walker who would be my future roommate and many others who are now some of my best friends. I quickly became close with both James and Nathan, but even before that, I found they were both very open about their own personal lives and struggles. I thought you were only supposed to share some minor issues to admit you weren’t perfect, not the worst ones. Eventually, I found myself opening up a lot more and found out that many of our problems were similar and that we could go through them together. I also started to view Muslims in a new way becoming good friends with our neighbors and obtaining a better view of people in general as humans, created in the Image of God regardless of any “status.”
Everything was great. Except I was still single. I had been discontent with being single for years. I prayed a mix of “Help me be content” and “Please give me a wife.” I read The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. I had never had a girlfriend before. I had honestly only been interested in a handful of women in my whole life. What are the odds I would ever meet someone where we actually both like each other? I thought it was pretty much impossible. Yet, somehow I didn’t think God was calling me to be single for the rest of my life. I don’t exactly know what it was (other than lots of prayer and support), but somehow, even with those nearly zero odds, God gave me peace. I finally became content after all those years. I was forced to completely trust Him with my future, and I actually did. I knew I would be ok even if that meant I never got married.
Amazingly, only a few months later near the end of 2016, I met Marlee…in the kid’s ministry of Waypoint. We got married just over a year later.
It is amazing to look back and see all the small things God has done to get me here. What if I didn’t realize how boring Harris Teeter was? What if I actually researched my career choice? (I recommend researching). What if I got hired earlier when I wanted to? What if my apartment lease would’ve ended even one month earlier? What if I ended up in a different Summit small group? What if I decided to stay at Summit? If any of those answers would’ve been different, I wouldn’t be where I am. Yet, in spite of all that, I still manage to relate to the Israelites and their complaining to Moses when things don’t happen fast enough. After all God has done, why is it still so difficult to trust Him sometimes?
I could finish this up by saying, “Trust God and He'll give you good stuff.” After all, Romans 8:28 does say, “He works all things together for good.” But Romans 8:29-30 says He also wants to conform me to His image, and I have been called for His purpose. God wants a relationship with me, and He wants to use me. Life won't always be easy, but I can look back and see all the ways He has been working, and, hopefully, learn to trust Him with my future.