A Dilemma with no Way Out
If the earth had suddenly opened up and swallowed me, my surprise could have been no greater than it was when the owner of the ranch made his announcement that the ranch had been sold. I was mute with shock.
He added, “You can stay here on the ranch for a month, Tony, until the new owner takes over. That should give you time to put your affairs in order.”
I couldn’t answer. I shook his hand. He left. Left, with my life shattered to pieces around me. I collapsed in the nearest chair. My future chopped off in a minute--after thirty years of working to make this cattle ranch a success.
When I finally crawled into bed that night, it wasn’t to sleep, it was to double up and, even though I fought against it, to sob until there were no more tears. How could I face what was ahead? It had been hard enough to lose my wife last year. Now this added loss crushed me. I was too old to get another administrator’s job. Even if I could get one, I knew my strength wasn’t up to starting all over again. I had no training for anything else.
Wild, sinful thoughts began swarming through my head. There was so much bitterness that I could almost taste it. And the anger was so strong I would have been afraid to see the owner again. How could I tell the truth to my boys? Maybe I could lie my way out of this and explain it in some other way. My pride suffered. The wildest thought of all was that I could take the coward’s way out—suicide.
Somehow I lived through the rest of the week without telling the boys. Then on Sunday I went to church as usual. Even the preacher didn’t know my problem so I knew he wasn’t directing his messge at me, but it seemed like it. His text was “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man…”
And how often does a thing like this happen to tempt a person? I questioned inside.
“but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able…”
But this is certainly beyond what I am able to bear! I clamored inside me.
“but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it.” He closed his Bible and proceeded with his message.
My mind couldn’t take in anymore. “That’s oversimplistic!” I protested inside “How can there be an escape route out of this? And it is certainly more than I can bear.”
That night at home, I put the problem before God. “Lord, if this word of yours is true, you’ll have to show me the way out. I certainly don’t see it. And I have all these temptations besieging me.” The thought of suicide came more and more often, mingled with bitterness and anger.
I knew the one month deadline to vacate the house was moving inexorably closer. Where would I go? My boys and their families lived in homes that certainly couldn’t accommodate another person. Without a salary, where could I live?
No escape route was in sight as the days moved on.
The boys discovered the truth. One day they drove up to the ranch. We sat in the dining room and drank iced tea and had chitchat for a while. Then Tom, my oldest son, said, “Dad, we have a proposition for you. After lots of checking around, we decided this area could use an agricultural supply store. Our plan is this. We’re mortgaging our homes to go into business. We would like you, with all your valuable experience, to be the manager. There is an apartment upstairs over the store, so you could live there. How about it?”
Again I was speechless. Such a wonderful escape route. Only the Lord could have engineered it. And how thankful I was that He did it before I yielded to the sinful ways to face the problem.
“I accept!” I answered. I could almost hear applause from heaven as angels listened in to this wonderful development. Doubtful as it had seemed, God’s word proved true.
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1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJ)
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