WHEN GOD SMILES
This last Sunday evening, I gave my testimony of the day I was born again at my church.
It wasn’t the first time.
Probably, I have told the story a couple of hundred times…I never tire of the story because, with every telling, a new layer of the presence of God emerges.
But, this time, after I finished, after the service, as someone was talking to Wendy and I, I discovered something obvious that I had never realized before.
The story contains my fall from “the good person” I considered myself to be.
You see, I was working for Dr Pepper in a job as route salesman. I loved my job. I was good at it. I stole from the company, got caught, got fired.
I took any job I could find.
My dad helped me get a job at Skaggs Albertson’s in Garland working on the night stock crew. After a couple weeks on the job, I had to take the required lie detector test. I had left out the fact on my employment application that I had worked for Dr Pepper and that I had been fired for stealing. I told the truth on the lie detector test. I was fired that day…I think I hit the bottom.
I managed to eventually get a job in a factory because of some cousins who worked there.
During this stint, I applied for a job with Pepsi, was hired, and was back to the route sales job that I loved.
I was good enough to be one of the top salesmen in the company, even having an article written about me in the national PepsiCo magazine…picture and everything.
But one day, I was a little short on finances to pay some bills, I changed a few tickets at one of my stores. A few days later, I thought I had been found out. As I was leaving the store after taking the changed ticket to the office, I heard the office lady call the back room guy to the office…the guy that always checked me in.
As I drove back to the plant, fear gripped me. I knew I would probably be fired when I got back to the plant.
I remember that prayer that day: “Oh, God, I did it again…I am so sorry…please don’t let me get fired again…I will do anything…I will give my life to You.”
At the plant nothing happened. Nothing happened.
Eventually, I got the route I had always wanted, Garland, the stores all around the place that I lived. Top salesman three of the five years there.
I got back into church.
Started teaching a high school Sunday School class.
I came across, in the second Sunday of teaching, the scripture that said “You must be born again!”
I didn’t have a clue what that meant.
The next day, Monday, March 8, 1978, I got to work depressed (Monday blues?), drove to my first stop depressed.
Another prayer I remember as I drove down Centerville Road in Garland: “Oh, God…why am I so depressed…if you go to church on Sunday, shouldn’t you feel good on Monday?…………And…….what does it mean to be born again?”
I walked into my first stop, afraid to talk to anyone because I felt like I would fall apart. Head down, I noticed a pile of dirt the floor crew had swept to the back dock. Right on top in the center of the pile a folded paper with the words “HAVE YOU BEEN BORN AGAIN?” I picked it up and put it in my pocket.
As I walked across the back aisle of the store, I almost tripped on another pile of swept up floor trash, and, right on top in the center of that pile was a folded piece of paper with the words “WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BORN AGAIN?” I put it in my pocket.
When I got back to my truck I read both of those little papers and, at the end of each was a prayer that I prayed out loud.
When I looked up, there was a sense of elation, Joy, newness. Something had changed…I was completely different. The depression was gone.
My heart had been changed. God met me that day and gave me a brand new life…the highest point of my life to that day.
Oh…and the smile of God?
Remember the store where I hit bottom…Skaggs Albertsons?
That was the very store where my new life began.