For the next five years he worked in sales and then became a trainer for Dish Network. All the while, not feeling much deep fulfillment with his career. It all seemed rather directionless.
Fast forward another 11 years to now. He is a full time contract chaplain for two state prisons here in our city. He ministers to thousands of inmates in general population and on death row, and he preaches for a wonderful church that, comparatively speaking, treats the preachers the same as anyone else. There is very little of that negative stuff that he wanted to avoid back then. Wish granted.
Looking back, what we didn't know was that the five years he spent toiling in sales and training in secular jobs was not pointless after all. God had him there for a reason. Those jobs not only helped him to finely tune his speaking abilities (if you haven't heard him, the man can preach), but also taught him many invaluable skills on how to talk to people and get to the heart of what it is you want them to learn...a skill that is a necessity when counseling broken men on a daily basis.
Through his work in the prisons we have met many people who have changed the course of our lives forever. One man he baptized early on in his prison ministry impacted my husband spiritually in ways that can't really be quantified. The spiritual change that came about in him during those early years was embodied through his relationship with a young man in prison for aggravated burglary. They shared a love for the lost and both had an overwhelming desire to share the good news about Jesus to them. That passion bonded them as they worked together, my husband in the chapel and this young man in the prison yard. We actually gave our youngest son a middle name to honor that man and what it was that he represents in our lives. We are hopeful that he will be getting out of prison sometime this year.
There is another man that my husband baptized in prison. He was a gang member and after he was baptized slowly stepped away from that lifestyle. He was released and we didn't hear from him for a while. Then he called one day and became a member of our church. That man is now married to my sister and is still a faithful Christian. And what is NUTS is that when my husband was baptizing him all those years ago, neither of them had any clue that they would some day be brothers.
My husband and his dad weren't very close growing up. And he wasn't converted until he was probably 19 or so, so there wasn't a whole lot of mentoring that he received from older men, much less spiritual mentoring. So when a man who was old enough to be his father and was incarcerated with a 35 year sentence for aggravated murder became a spiritual mentor, God once again showed that you just never know how He uses circumstances to change you for the better. That man is being released from prison today after being down for 35 years. Tonight we are praying that the impact he makes on others outside of the walls of prison are half as meaningful as the one he made on my husband.
God will grant you the wishes of your heart (Psalm 37:4). But sometimes we just need to realize that the journey that we need to go on to get us there may be a long one that at times seems fruitless. God is always working - even when we feel like He is not. I truly believe that is why the Bible says that we should do everything as if we were doing it unto the Lord...because even in the mundane and unpleasant things we do in life, God can be using that to shape us and our circumstances into what He wants.
"Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary." Isaiah 40:31