Part of the series, Game-Changers
It was, by far, the worst place I had ever worked.
It was worse than the car dealer (where I lasted only two weeks).
Worse than the department store ladies’ shoe department. Or selling vacuums in the store on the other end of the mall. Or any of the scores of temporary assignments I’ve had as a graphic designer.
Worse than any of the places that fired me.
It was a typesetting company. Which, at the time I was working there, was like being a buggy whip manufacturer in the 1920s. My job involved taking computer files sent to us by artists and advertising agencies and outputting them on film. They’d ship the film to a print shop where it would be used to make plates for printing presses.
But it wasn’t the work that made it so bad.
It was one of the owners. Whenever he was angry—which was often—he’d storm into the big production room where we all worked and scream at whoever he thought had screwed up.
Which, sometimes, was me.
No one ever knew when he was going to explode. Or who would be the next victim.
Every day I’d get up and drive to work, my stomach in knots.
Every day I’d pray for deliverance and wonder how I’d escape.
And every day was just as bad as the day before.
Until one day, on the 19th of a month I can’t remember, something broke the pattern in a way I never could have imagined and have never forgotten. It didn’t change the externals. The owner still made his regular trips into the production room to humiliate another of his employees. I still woke up every morning, my stomach in knots, wondering how I was going to escape.
But something very important had changed inside me.
Refuge in a cool, dark room
The film we produced from the computer files was output into largish cassettes which were then unloaded inside a dark room and spooled into a chemical processor. All of which was my responsibility. The last part of which was done in almost total darkness.
Here’s the funny thing: That room became my refuge. I loved going in there. It was cool, dark—and totally isolated from whatever was raging just outside in the production room.
One day, as I was feeding some film into the processor, a thought occurred to me. A verse, actually. If God is light and in him is no darkness—then why has a cool, dark room become my refuge?
And then I heard it.
“Because even in the darkness I am light.”
Instantly, there was an inner warmth—a feeling of safety—there in that cool, dark room. And then I had to go back into the blindingly bright production room.
Soon, though, came lunch, which was typically taken in the front seat of my car, followed by Bible reading. Which was cool, because I had taken up somebody’s suggestion to read through the whole book of Psalms, five chapters a day, for 30 days. Day 1 would be Psalm 1, followed by Psalms 31, 61, 91, and 121. Day 2 would be Psalm 2 and so forth.
This was the 19th—I can’t remember the month—and I began by reading Psalm 19. Then 49 and 79 and 109.
And then Psalm 139:
1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
. . .
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
“for darkness is as light to you”
The Lord and I then had a wonderful visit where he told me not to quit until I’d been fired. That it was okay. That he had made provision. And he told me to work hard, learn everything I could about Macintosh computers, networks—all the equipment I was using in that place—and to master QuarkXpress, the new page layout software we’d just started using.
I did what I was told and, sure enough, just a few weeks later I was fired. Just a few weeks after that I was hired by one of the divisions at Tandy Corporation as a copy writer. And because this division was about to computerize its art department and because I knew more than they did about Macintosh computers, networking, and page layout software, they offered to pay me more and then put me in charge of purchasing the equipment and training the artists. All of which I did.
Is that not cool?
Think about it…
- What are your stories about hearing God (and doing what he says)?
- Why do you suppose “Game-Changers” is in the title to this post?