Several years ago I immigrated to Israel from the US without much of a plan as to what I’d do when I got here. I was very young, innocent and idealistic back then, and looking back on it I can say without embarrassment that I was also very foolish and reckless. It’s apparent that God was taking care of me because it’s for sure that I wasn’t taking very good care of myself and it’s not even the tiniest bit of an exaggeration to say that it’s a miracle I survived, much less found success and happiness.
Shortly after arriving here and following a series of events that, again looking back on it, defy non-miraculous explanation, I got a job working the night shift in Tel Aviv. It was one of the worst jobs I’d ever had, but I was desperate at the time, having little money and being just a half-step away from being homeless (i.e. I was sleeping on the couch of a friend who made it clear that this was a temporary situation while everything I owned in the entire world fit easily into a backpack which I carried around with me all day and used as a pillow to sleep on at night.)
I really didn’t want to stay there, but aside from my desperate need for a steady income so I could climb out of the deep pit I was in, there were things going on at that job which I strongly felt were in the interests of the Kingdom. In my heart I knew that God had placed me there for a reason and I needed to stay and tough it out.
But I didn’t want to.
Happily, there was someone to explain things to me in terms even I couldn’t refuse to yield to.
One day, a friend of mine said he was going to take a trip up to the Galilee region and invited me to come with him. I jumped at the chance to take a break from my dreary routine. The trip was planned for four days including a Saturday, and as it happened on that Saturday we were with some other people neither of us knew very well who were planning to attend Carmel Assembly, a local Israeli congregation in a Druze village near the traditional location where Elijah faced off against the prophets of Baal (1 Kings chapter 18).
That day, the message was given by pastor Peter Tsukahira, who preached a message on 2 Samuel 23:11-12, which says;
Now after him was Shammah the son of Agee a Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered into a troop where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the people fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it and struck the Philistines; and the Lord brought about a great victory.
To be very honest, I don’t remember much about that message aside from Peter’s point that Shammah had stood his ground and defended the field of lentils from the Philistine attack because God had given his family that field and God expected him to take care of it, defend it and cultivate it. There were other fields where he could grow lentils, and maybe it would even be easier to cultivate lentils in those other fields and he might not even have to fight the Philistines for the privilege. But he wouldn’t be obedient to God if he did that.
I looked up at the ceiling of Carmel Assembly and in my mind said “Okay God, I get it.”
A couple of days later, I got back to Tel Aviv and wrote an email to my mother with the subject line “Something about a bean field” in which I told her I’d stay at this crummy job and trust that God had a reason for me to stay there and that it would eventually lead to something I’d enjoy more.
Brothers and sisters, I am happy to be able to tell you that this is precisely what happened.
I stayed in that crummy job for another 14 months and it DID allow me, in a very modest way, to produce fruit for the Kingdom. It also led to my meeting people who, a few years later and through yet another series of events that could ONLY be miraculous, led me to the best job I ever had. These circumstances also led me to meet the woman who would be my wife and the mother of my children.
So I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this little story and I hope that it inspires you to find the place where God wants you, and when you find that place, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable it might be, I hope you have the strength and faith to stay there and fight for it, cultivate it and defend it. The rewards for doing so, in this life and the next, will be beyond imagination.