It was 1955, the year the appointment changed everything; the way he viewed his life, his family and his God. If he had the choice, would he alter anything? No, he wouldn’t want to change a thing! Even though it had brought much anguish in his life, it also carried with it a deeper knowledge of his Savior and a trust would last forever.
Robert was married to Mary long before that ominous day. They had 5 children ranging from 23 to 5 and he had found his life’s occupation; working with his hands as a carpenter. Robert enjoyed the hard and demanding work involved in building beautiful structures. He loved the smell of sawdust, the feel of the rough lumber as he cut just the right dimensions and the sound of a hammer pinging off a nail. There was nothing like watching a building take shape under his hands and He felt grateful to God that he could do what he loved most and provide for his family all at the same time.
But on that fateful day in May, doing what he loved best was brought into question and his faith in God was shaken to its core.
At first he noticed that he had a little trouble catching his breath, then came the pain down his arm. He put it off as long as he could but finally decided he needed to see a doctor. He couldn’t remember the last time he had gone to the doctor and he’d forgotten how humiliating those ugly gowns were. Oh, how he just wished it would all go away. He needed to get back to his work; he needed to provide for his family!
After the doctor thoroughly examined him and asked a vast amount of questions, he told him to get dressed and come to his office.
“I have good news and bad news, which would you like to hear first?” stated his doctor matter-of-factly after he had settled into a stiff-backed chair.
“Just give it to me straight, don’t beat around the bush! Robert replied.
“Well you are going to live! But you have a serious heart condition and you will never be able to work in construction again. It will kill you, if you do!”
“Doctor, you don’t understand, I’ve got 4 children at home and a son who is in seminary. I’ve got no choice but to work and construction is all I’ve ever known!”
“I’m so sorry but unfortunately, there is nothing I can do about that. Maybe, you should have your son come home from seminary to help support your family. . .”
Robert climbed into his old dilapidated pick-up truck, his mind in a fog. What was he going to do? How would he tell Mary? He could clearly see the worry written all over her face. He needed some time to think so He drove to his favorite spot and parked.
Robert put his head down on the steering wheel and pounded the dash board with his fists.
“Why have you done this?” Robert raged at God. “What am I supposed to do? Should I call Jim home from seminary to help support the family? We felt for sure Your call was on his heart – have You changed your mind?”
Robert felt a shaking deep within his soul, like an earthquake beginning to tremble. Who was this God that he was following? Was he so uncaring to rip the very thing that he loved most in this world from his grasp? He held nothing back in his anger toward God.
He had no idea how long he had sat in the truck wrestling with God. But in the end Robert came to the conclusion that he could either follow God even though he didn’t understand or he could turn and walk away. The choice was his to make. And that day in that grungy old pick-up truck Robert chose God, he chose to walk by faith and not by sight. He covenanted with God that if God would bless him in his work and provide for His family, He would trust Him and follow Him with all of his heart. And God did just that!
He worked well into his seventies doing what he loved most. His son finished seminary and went on to be a missionary, never knowing until many years later about the infamous appointment his dad had with God.
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