Parallels

1:17 PM

As my CBS Bible study has ended for the summer, I picked up a devotional that my mom gave me for Christmas one year: a Beth Moore 90 devotional on the life of John. I'm only a few days into it, but already God has stirred my heart with new things to think about.

Today's lesson in particular rang true with me. If you don't know the story of John, it began like this: He and his brother James were working in their fishing boat along side their dad, Zebedee. Out of the blue, up walks Jesus who speaks to them and says, "Come with me and I will make you become fishers of men." And they drop what they're doing. Leaving their dad and his hired servants behind in the boat, they wade ashore and leave their current life to follow Jesus and become his disciples.

This kind of behavior is quite common for Jesus. It seems his modus operandi is to stop by and ask us to follow Him on some path we'd previously not planned to take. And taking the path He offers means completely abandoning something we previous really enjoyed. And might have been good at. But John and his brother James went.

The recount of this incident in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John doesn't give us a breakdown of any emotions felt by James, John or their father, Zebedee, but it doesn't take much imagination to figure out what they must have felt. For starters, as Beth Moore points out in her devotional, it had to have been a blow for Zeb to see his two sons, the "& Sons" of his life's work, just hop the boat and take to solid ground with this Jesus fellow. What would happen to the business? Where would he find the same kind of help now that his two sons were gone? Here he had raised and groomed his sons to take over the family business and now without a backward glance, they were hitting the road with a stranger. How Zeb must have struggled with that!

And think about what James and John must have felt. No doubt they both believed deep down that to follow Jesus was exactly what they were supposed to do, without knowing why or how or the logistics of it all. They so deeply felt the call and had no choice but to respond. It was respond or die inside from ignoring that call. But it had to have registered with them that they were leaving their father, their boss, the man they loved and respected and who'd taught them his trade. They knew the expectations their father had for them and they, up to this point, had probably been A-ok with fulfilling those expectations.

But this Jesus guy....just changed everything.

This story is also mine. For 7 happy years, I worked as an employee of my Dad's company, DD&F Consulting Group. My dad was my boss, my friend, my confidante, my counselor, my role model. I loved working with him, learning from him, watching him wheel and deal, concentrate over the details of a potential deal, I loved being able to be his daughter in the workplace. I loved the challenge of working harder than everyone else to rise above the family thing. I loved learning what it was that he did and loving it too. I loved going to work every day. I loved the sense of ownership I had for the company...that someday it might be my "F" in the initials...and then one day...

This little thing called a daughter happened into my world and shortly thereafter came this voice that said, "Ashley, I want you to follow me down a different road. Stay home and be a mommy to this little child." And MAN, that call went deep and hit hard. It ate at me. My plan had always been to work. To stay where I was and, Lord willing, excel there! And I wasn't in a position to immediately abandon my job, but the call buzzed in my ears and ate at my heart daily. And then, one ordinary afternoon, God provided a miracle in the form of an enormous raise for my husband which so perfectly filled the financial gap my salary would have left. And at THAT point, there was no denying, no ignoring that call. It was time for me to jump ship and follow a new course.

But I did feel deeply what I was leaving. Not only the change of identity - I was now suddenly something other than a bank consultant proudly employed by my father! I was now also a stay-at-home mom who did NOT get a nice little paycheck every 2 weeks. But I was most definitely, MOST definitely, on the path Jesus had asked me to follow. No doubt about that.

While I rejoiced to be at home every day with my growing baby girl, seeing all her "firsts", I grieved because I was no longer daily spending time with my dad, working side by side with him. I worried about him, who would do what I did? Who could he trust like he trusted me? Who loved the company as much as he and I did? I had no illusions or delusions about being truly indispensable. None of us are, as much as we'd like to be. But I knew that it had to have been hard for my dad to see God ask this of me, knowing that it was the right thing, but also knowing that it meant a loss to him personally. Hopefully not just of a valued employee, but also the unique relationship we'd crafted over the years together.

God works in interesting ways. I have no idea why He puts people on paths that He obviously puts them on only to suddenly throw the switch mid-track and send you off in a different direction. I just know that He does. And that since His perspective is not as linear as mine, He can see the whole thing - front to back, beginning to end and all the criss-cross-y trails in the middle. And He just asks us to obey. To respond to His call.

I can say, looking back now over the past 3 years that my path has been good to me. God has blessed us with another child, continued to bless us financially and in so many other ways. And I know I'm where God has me - a fisher of men in my own way. And as to my Dad, well, God has enormously blessed his company. As the world of finance and banking has been hit with blow after blow, my dad and his company have been uniquely, supernaturally positioned to act immediately to help so many banks respond to this crisis. DD&F has been blessed over and over and continues to be, and I know that in part, it's because my Dad is faithful to God's call to him. He may not have understood why God asked me to leave, but He didn't put up a fight. And God has brought in the workers and the work, tenfold.

Praise be to the Lord for the ways He calls us. Praise be to Him for his timing, his methods and his provision. We know (I know) that all things work together for good to those who love Him and are CALLED according to His purpose. (Rom. 8:28)

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1 comments

  1. Ashley, this story - your story has impacted my life enormously in the last 3 years. I've told it to countless people, every time feeling more pride and more encouragement in the incredibly tangible way God spoke to you.

    I remember that woman. The one who didn't think she even wanted children. The one who was AMAZING at her job. The one who baffled me and inspired me all at the same time.

    Look at how far that woman has come. Look at how much more she has inspired and encouraged, all because she chose to obey.

    I love you. More than I could ever express.

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