Tired and dejected Gerald opened the door to his house and was instantly greeted by the out-of-control exuberance of his three dogs. He had barely taken a step through the threshold when he was nearly knocked off his feet by a hundred-and-thirty-two pounds of dog flesh flying through the air and landing on their intended target, his waist. He managed to withstand the flurry without falling back through the door but only by sheer determination and months of practice.
"Jake and Molly, get down!" he screamed. "Damn it! Will you two sit! No! Bad dogs! Down!"
"What's all the shouting about?" Judy asked as she walked into the foyer.
"These damn dogs nearly knock me over every night and I am tired of it," Gerald snapped. "Jake! I said. SIT!"
"Well you don't have to yell at me or at the dogs. They are just happy to see you."
Gerald pushed his way into the house, past the excited dogs and without so much as a glance towards Judy. He threw his briefcase onto a chair dropping his tired body into one of his own and grabbed his head with his hands. While Judy ushered the dogs out of the room the events of the last few days at work washed over him. Despair found a beachhead and a tidal wave of emotion struck his heart. Fear was at the doorstep and hopelessness but a stone throw away.
"Will you tell me what's wrong?" Judy asked as she returned to the room, picking up the briefcase and setting it into its customary position on the desk. "You have been impossible to live with this week. I am tired of walking on eggshells around here waiting for you to blow up at the slightest thing that may go wrong. Tell me what's going on."
"I need a drink."
"Is that all you ever have to say? 'I need a drink.' Have you found that those drinks do any good?
"Don't you get it? I lost it. The Brookings account," he yelled, slamming his fist into the chair. "They have pulled their entire portfolio."
"Brookings? Why would they do that? You have provided them everything they have ever asked of you and more. They couldn't possibly find anyone as dedicated to their needs as you. My God, it has been nearly two years since you have taken a single day away from that briefcase and all I ever hear is 'Brookings, Brookings, Brookings.' Do they realize how much we all have had to sacrifice around here while you worked to meet their demands?"
"Well, you won't have to sacrifice any longer. Their gone. It's official. And with them goes my job."
"What do you mean, Gerald? Hank didn't fire you over this, did he?"
Gerald just looked at his wife, tears on the edge of spilling over and hopelessness finally finding a secure hold on his heart. He started to say something but the words stuck in his throat. Instead, he looked into her eyes and revealed the truth that remained, in his mind, surreally implausible.
"How could he? You're his top agent? Certainly he knows the value you bring to the company?"
"I guess he can't afford me now that Brookings is gone. Besides, he blames me for losing them. He was furious. He told me that if I were really as invaluable as I think I am that I would have never lost the largest account the company has ever had. Then he told me to take my worthless, good for nothing butt out of his office and never come back."
"You're kidding? He talked like that to you? After twenty-two years of being his most dedicated employee, he just throws you out like deadwood using the language of a schoolyard bully?"
"There was more than that tame remark. He has been yelling at me all week since the news began to filter in that Brookings was bailing." Gerald slumped back into his chair. Hank's verbal assault was the least of his worries. No job; debt up to his ears; a sick and infirmed mother; two kids in college… The list feeding his hopelessness just kept growing. How could he handle everything without a source of income? Where could he find a new job? Twenty-two years and now he would have to start all over.
Judy came over to her defeated husband and placed a loving hand on his brow. Kneeling down to bring her face close to his, she whispered, "We'll be alright. You'll see."
"I don't see how," he muttered. "I put my entire life into that job. It always came first. We haven't had a vacation in years, the kids hardly know me, and I'm too old to learn a new profession. How are we going to pay the bills?"
"I really don't know but we will find a way. God will provide."
"God? You've got to be kidding. Why would God have anything to do with me? I've never given Him the time of day."
"Gerald. I know you have never listened to me but maybe now, now that you have to take a new look at your life, you will finally see what I have been trying to tell you for years. God loves you and He wants you to know Him. Turn to Him and He will provide you a light in the darkness."
"Just like that. Turn and say, Hi God, here I am, your loyal servant, and, poof, all my troubles will be gone."
"No. Your troubles will still be there. We will still have bills to pay and your mother will grow weaker until it is her time to be with Him."
"Then what's the point?"
"The point? Hope, love, peace, and joy. You have never found any of that in your life and you still have problems. Trust me… No, learn to trust God and He will lead you to still waters and green pastures.
"Well, that seems very unlikely. Last I heard, God wasn't signing too many paychecks."
"Paychecks?" Judy responded. "Maybe not, but nothing is impossible with God. What He does promise, what Jesus did for each of us, was to heal our wounds. When we take time out in our lives and turn to look Him full in the face we experience a love that will overcome anything we face in life."
"I'm not convinced that He cares one iota for me at this point. As far as I can see, the only thing I really need is that Scotch bottle we have on the shelf. Pour me a drink and make it strong."
"That's another choice. It's up to you." Judy rose to her feet and began to move from the room with a silent prayer on her heart. "Lord, reveal yourself to him and help him turn to you in this time of pain. Please help Him Lord. He needs you."
Loving Father: Life is real and with it comes so many opportunities to fail. We work hard at doing what is right but there are times when nothing we do seems to matter. Our burdens pile up against us and tidal waves of suffering wash into our lives. Hopelessness fills our hearts. Feelings of despair, guilt, and pain take control. Lord, how can we live this way? How can we persevere through the pain and the suffering? Where is your light of hope? Where are you? Send your love into our hearts. Reveal your glory. Show us your pathways to those greener pastures and still waters you promise to have available. Heal our wounds. Lift us out of the pit and into the light. This we pray, Lord, with the full and complete knowledge that Christ suffered and died so that we may live. Amen.
Yes, Lord. Amen and amen. Brother, your little story most definitely brings things into perspective. 'Tis a tough, tough world we live in. We just can't make it through without Him. If only we could all comprehend the fullness of His omnipotence in our lives. Then, perhaps we'd all turn with our whole hearts. Yes, dear Lord, expose Yourself to us all. In Jesus' most blessed Name. And amen.