Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
As a student of history and as a leader, I have long admired Abraham Lincoln. He was an extraordinary yet common man whose accomplishments deserve every bit of the credit he has received. One quote of his has long stuck with me; a reminder of what to do when the world seems to be crashing down – an all too common occurrence for Lincoln. “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” We’ve all been there from time to time.
December 12, 2012 was one of those days that most people remember for the novelty of the date: 12/12/12. Any novelty the day possessed wore off for me early that afternoon as I sat working in my office. It was the Wednesday of finals week at Concordia, Ann Arbor. I had a few hours to get some grading done while I waited for an afternoon faculty meeting. Dr. Uden, the dean from the school of education at Concordia Wisconsin, was in town for the end of the semester. He scheduled a brief meeting with me for that afternoon. I sat in my office awaiting his arrival. He was late – a trademark of every meeting he held with us at CUAA. But I didn’t mind – I understood his overbooked schedule and I had plenty of work to do as I waited. He finally arrived, apologized for being late and got right to the point.
We appreciate the work you have done for the university, but it has been decided that the university will not be renewing your contract.
To type this even now brings back the wave of emotions that hit me in that moment. I had never been fired before, so I found myself trying to wrap my mind around what was happening. I had done my job to the best of my abilities. I had never received a negative review from anyone who had observed me. The only explanation I was given was that I had never taught in a high school setting. My twelve years of experience as a middle school teacher (considered secondary by both the state of Michigan and Wisconsin) didn’t matter. My experience and performance in the position didn’t matter. A nearly twenty year relationship with my alma mater didn’t matter. I didn’t matter.
Since that day, I have done my best to look forward to what God has in store for me, all the while keeping up a front that would not lead others to believe that anything was wrong – that the merger of CUAA with CUW was going fine and that the future was nothing but bright. Maybe it is, but I’ve learned that some lights only illuminate those things at which they’re pointed. I have kept quiet, trusting in two basic truths.
1. CUW spent a great deal of money to acquire CUAA, so they can hire whomever they want to do my job.
2. My trust is in the Lord. He is my hope, my strength and my future.
Over the past several months, I have searched to find what God has in store for me as I leave CUAA. Dozens of applications have led to only a handful of interviews and no job offers. So as I come to the end of my contract with no job and no strong leads, I once again must turn to the one and only place I can find reassurance for a very uncertain future. Moving forward, I find comfort in the words of Christ spoken in John 14:27.
On first glance, the promise of peace and the directive to not be afraid stands out. But what strikes a chord with me most is the sentence in between – “Not as the world gives do I give you.” By worldly standards, I can make a strong case for having been mistreated. Those closest to me can attest that I have had ups and downs that have left me puzzled and angry. But in spite of what I may perceive when comparing my situation with that of others, Christ reminds me that my situation is unique because His love for me is unique and deep enough to see me through this desert to the place He is leading. Until then, I will put my trust in Him.
Where else do I have to go?
Photo Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln