Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hope for the Unemployed

I've been there before, just another number among the ranks of the unemployed.

Even without children depending on me for their daily bread, it was a frightening place to be, a valley of indecision where I questioned every decision I had made thus far in my life.

How did I get here?  Had I missed God's calling on my life?  Did I make a wrong turn somewhere?

But no matter how many times I replayed a lifetime of videos in my head, I always came to the same conclusion--I knew I had followed God's will to this place.  So why was I here?

Years later, I asked the same question when husband lost not merely his job but his career.  I continue to ask the same question when I see friends and family without a job not for just a few months, but for years.

Why, Lord?

The pages of Ezekiel give a glimpse of one man who lost much more than one job.  He lost it all.

Scripture reads, "Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God....the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and there the hand of the LORD came upon him" (Ez. 1:1-3).

In this short passage, we learn Ezekiel was a "priest" from the tribe of Levi, which had been set aside by God to serve Him forever in His holy place.

To serve in the temple was Ezekiel's career, something he would have been trained to do since birth.  This was also Ezekiel's birthright, since a Levite was not given a portion of the promised land.  God was His portion.

But there was no temple to serve in.  It had been destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.  Even if there had been a temple to serve in, Ezekiel was a prisoner living in exile.

In what must have seemed like an instant, Ezekiel was left with no lands, no inheritance, no temple, no career, no avenue of service.  

The earlier Scripture also references the "thirtieth year," which many scholars believe to have been Ezekiel's age.  Such an interpretation would coincide with the Old Testament rules about Levites starting to serve in the temple "from thirty years and upward, even to fifty years old" (Num. 4:3).

One can just imagine how Ezekiel felt.  He had finally achieved the age he dreamed about his entire life--the age when he could stop learning about being a priest and start being a priest, when he could  stop watching others from the sidelines and start serving in his own right.

Now, though, he was displaced, jobless, career-less, a prisoner, homeless, and all with a wife to support in a foreign land.   But although Ezekiel may have thought he could no longer serve God, none of these human factors stopped God from using Ezekiel.

When all seemed lost, Jesus came to Ezekiel: "on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man....there was a radiance around Him. As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance.  Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face" (Ez. 1:26-28).

God had a job for Ezekiel to do, an avenue of service--not the career Ezekiel expected for himself, but one God set before him anyway.

Had Ezekiel been serving comfortably in Jerusalem, he may not have been as open to God's career-change from respected priest to hated prophet.

These words should bring hope to the many who have lost their jobs, who have lost their careers.

You are not forgotten to God.  He still has a plan for your future.

It may not be in the job field you trained in.  It may not even be in a field you've ever considered.  Yet, sometimes, it takes losing it all for Jesus to show Himself to us in His glory like He did with Ezekiel.

A drastic, less-than-desired change, yes, but oh the glory He reveals to those of us who keep looking up through the trial.

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