My Messed Up "Good" Life

In brief: Unemployed, but why?  God had other plans for me; to set my vision straight on what the truer purpose in this time was for me to be. And so here begins my story, of my learning of that truer purpose, and my better life now, but realize that the best is yet to come…

Following the Easy Path

I’m a mess, and that’s for living the “good” life. Imagine that. Perhaps that’s another way of expressing the apostle Paul’s claim at he being the “chief of sinners” (See 1 Tim. 1:14-16). But I myself claiming to be “a mess,” I believe that as well can be a claim for all of humanity, since Genesis chapter three. But praise to God, in Jesus we are “cleaned up”—the dirt is gone, washed “whiter than snow” (see Psalm 51:6-8; Isaiah 1:18).

I’m not a farmer, but I’d seen in my growing up how a field is plowed. My dad would have a man come with a tractor to plow up a portion of the ground on our property where we could plant a vegetable garden. First, there was the turning up the ground and then tilling the soil, smoothing it out making the ground ready for planting. Perhaps that illustrates my years. I plowed the “good” life, not a “raunchy” lifestyle, as one such before the ground is smoothed out. Or perhaps better put, as a life without God may so reflect. Mine was of smooth soil throughout the years—following the easy path—free of any “clumps or uneven clods.”

But I’d never before realized more profoundly “my mess” than when I became unemployed.  Losing my last full-time job where I had worked for over eight years was not my doing, however; the company went out of business. My unemployment continued for nearly three years.

Then, it came to my attention that sometimes God might bring people—even incidents, I believe—into our lives to get us to realize where we belong and/or to realize what we ought to be doing. I was impressed with that from a Bible teaching on the life of David, via BBN’s Bible Institute[1] from a study by Dr. Richard Strauss[2].

I've grown up in Ohio, and I’ve been so blessed by God for having been born to parents who took their children (I’m the youngest of four) to church and Sunday school every week, and even to church camps. Thus, we’ve learned of the Bible and of Jesus all our lives. Even so, for some reason, I grew up inward; some people may call my inwardness as being “shy” or “bashful, or as others may suggest, an “introvert.”

Nevertheless, viewing it all from today's vantage point I don’t think of my introversion as ”shy”—just one not so talkative, not so outgoing.   Yet, reflecting on those early years now, however, I consider my introverted temperament a blessing.

Through my growing up days there were good family times; we enjoyed meals together and trips, vacations and holidays. Too, I’ve probably grown up normally as any child not immune to physical ailments, sicknesses, or injuries. Three such incidents particularly having scarred my flesh still “hang around” my memory, as well as on my flesh, perhaps as a reminder of God’s protective care.

We were not a family of great wealth. Although as well my own financial health has never been anything to brag about, yet for some reason that has not been too great of a concern to me. As has been impressed upon me in later years, as Jesus has said, I’m not to worry about everyday life—whether [I] have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and [my] body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25) And I’m not to fear those “clumpy cloddy days” that He promises will come. (See John 16:32-33; 17:14-15)

Drawing by Miriam Parrish

 And Jesus continued, “… Look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you [Charles] not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26; cf. Matthew 10:29-31; Luke 12:22-34)

Even though I’m one not having been born with a “silver spoon” in my mouth, I yet feel I’m the more fortunate (See James 1:9-11 NLT )—having been born instead with a double crown on my head.

When I was a child while visiting an amusement park with my family (near where we lived), I met a Native American. In noticing my double crown, he predicted that I would see two worlds some day. Yet, as a child, “busily” following that easy path, I hadn’t given too much thought to that prediction. But in later years I was reminded of that prediction again, and I realized there are indeed two very different worlds. Then, being confronted with the two worlds, at God’s appointed time, as if coming to a fork in the road, I had to decide for myself which world offered the better benefits.

[1] The Bible Broadcasting Network, Christian radio for the whole family, in 8 languages.

[2] Dr. Richard L. Strauss, senior pastor of Emmanuel Faith Community Church in Escondido, CA for 21 years died of multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow) September 11, 1993. B.A. Wheaton College, 1954; Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary, 1958; Th.D. Dallas Seminary, 1962; Served on U.S. Board of Directors of SIM International and member of the Board of Regents and Board of Incorporate Members at Dallas Theological Seminary.