I shifted uncomfortably in my seat as the worship team played their first song. This was our pastor’s last Sunday. He was taking an exciting new position as regional director of the denomination. I was happy for him, but his move had me thinking even more about my own career. What was God’s plan for my life? For Pastor Gary, the road ahead seemed crystal clear. Why couldn’t it be like that for me?
For nine months now I’d been wrestling with making a career change. The idea was to work with my wife, Rikki, in her small company, where she served as a court-appointed fiduciary for vulnerable clients, managing their legal, financial and medical decisions. I’d even talked to Pastor Gary about my struggle. “Sounds like we’re both moving into uncharted waters,” he’d told me. “Just follow God’s direction.”
The difference was, his promotion came with a pay increase. I was most likely looking at a major pay cut, possibly to zero. I’d be giving up a job as the chief financial officer of a large credit union, which came with a good salary and health benefits, and walking away from a firmly established 25-year career. I prayed every day for direction but heard nothing in return.
Now, in church with my wife beside me, the worship team continued to play as I fought to pay attention. I put my head in my hands. Depend on me for everything. I heard the words clearly and immediately looked up. Where had that come from?
I glanced at Rikki. Her head was bowed. “Rikki,” I whispered as I nudged her. “I think God just spoke to me. He told me to depend on him.”
Rikki nodded. “Sounds as if you need to make a decision.”
We’d been all over it together. I wasn’t usually indecisive. I was a numbers guy. I made decisions based on facts—return on investment, data, trend lines. My goal was to minimize the element of risk. Maybe that meant staying where I was. I’d seen plenty of businesses fail, and God wasn’t always there to pick up the pieces. How could I be sure I wasn’t throwing away my family’s future and a successful career for nothing?
Up on the stage, Pastor Gary read from Deuteronomy: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” Do that, he said, and everything will fall into place. “If only it were that simple,” I whispered to Rikki. My heart was in this, but my feet didn’t seem to know how to take a step forward. I just couldn’t make the leap.
On the way home from church we talked about how the whole thing had started. Rikki had been telling me about a client of hers, an elderly woman named Lucille Anderson. Before Rikki took her case, Lucille had lost thousands of dollars, a situation that could have been avoided with some sound financial planning. “I could help someone like Lucille,” I said again, still trying to convince myself. “Budgeting, expense analysis, investments—that’s what I do. I could make a real difference.”
It was hard to see how the work I did at the credit union benefited specific individuals. The job was more about ensuring the financial health of the credit union. With me focused on the clients’ financial affairs, Rikki would be freed up to concentrate on their medical, housing and health issues. Lucille’s name had come up frequently in our conversations as a real-life example of how I could be effective in this proposed new business venture.
For the rest of the day I thought about what I’d heard in church. Why couldn’t I have the faith of Pastor Gary? Why was it so hard for me to believe that I could depend on God for everything? My stomach was in knots. By 8 p.m. the cramps were so severe that Rikki rushed me to the ER. Doctors couldn’t find the problem. Pain medication gave me no relief. I was in agony.
At 2 a.m. I was still in the ER, curtains drawn around my bed. Rikki was asleep in a chair, but I couldn’t even sleep. A doctor came in to review my chart. “Your symptoms point to a bowel obstruction,” he said, “but it’s not showing up in the tests.”
A nurse poked her head around the curtain. “Doctor, Lucille is ready to be discharged to West Valley if you can sign off on her chart,” she said, and mentioned the name of an assisted-living facility I’d heard Rikki talking about.
“Is that Lucille Anderson, by any chance?” I asked.
Rikki opened her eyes. “What about Lucille?” she said groggily.
The doctor looked surprised. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m not at liberty to say.”
“If it’s Lucille Anderson, you can tell me,” Rikki said. “I’m her guardian.”
The doctor flipped through the chart. “Well, yes, I see that you are.” Then he pointed to the curtain. “Lucille is in the next bed.”
The doctor led Rikki to her. I lay back on the bed, stunned. The next bed? Only God could have arranged for the very woman who had sparked my interest in making a career change to be just feet away in my hour of need. What were the odds? I imagined a team of angels seeing to every detail and orchestrating the meeting. Now they would be dancing, clapping and laughing with the Lord. The message couldn’t have been clearer, and as soon as I embraced it, my stomach pain disappeared.
Lucille and I were both discharged that day. Rikki followed up with Lucille, and I drafted a letter of resignation to the credit union’s CEO. When I’d finished there wasn’t a twinge of fear or regret.
At first it wasn’t always easy financially, but we had savings to help and found ways to trim expenses. I focused on the warmth and satisfaction I got from working one-on-one with vulnerable clients, and from working in tandem with my wife. In time our business grew. I knew that God had me exactly where he wanted me.
Did you enjoy this story? Subscribe to Angels on Earth magazine.