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Apr 27, 2021 08:00am
The 5 Phases of Darkness and Drought
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Four years ago, I entered an incredibly difficult season of drought that lasted until only a few months ago. Four years seems like an eternity when you’re (seemingly) stuck in a desolate wasteland with no hope. Here’s my journey in 5 major phases:

Phase 1 – I Stepped Into a Black Hole

It was 4 years ago when I took a job outside my hometown to provide better financial stability for my family. Little did I know that I was moving away based on (extremely) misleading expectations and what would become broken promises.

I was told I would receive ample support from headquarters. I was never told my bonus structure would completely go away, and I was never told that the way I performed would be evaluated entirely different from before. 

In short, I opened a restaurant franchise with having to hire 80 people to undergo $80,000/week in sales operation – and I did it alone. I had no support from headquarters or from the franchise owner. Every part of the operation was on my shoulders, crushing me under its weight.

I dealt with lawsuits, mass-firing, scheduling, cleaning, and building maintenance – EVERYTHING. It’s too much for any one person to handle. My wife and I added up my hours to see how much I was working. I was putting in at least 75 hours every week. I worked 6 days/week for 12 weeks straight. 

On Sundays, I would lay in a bathtub listening to music, only to rest my body for another (what felt like) slave-driven week. 

The end result? Obviously – burnout. I was losing ground and gaining speed. I had audits that were impossible to pass due to the overly strict metrics. I had employees that were impossible to satisfy due to the labor cuts.

If I made my team happy, headquarters was upset. If I made headquarters happy, then my team was upset. I was in a lose-lose position.

Before I took the job, I was told I was advancing, and this was a “great opportunity” for me. Reality – I was set up to fail in every way possible. Moving away like that and losing all my bonus earnings (up to $15,000/year) was upsetting (and I’m putting that very nicely). 

Phase 2 – I Saw a Light

After eight months of this, I decided to finish my bachelor’s degree and get out. I didn’t know if I could finish because my loan eligibility ran out, which meant I had to pay out-of-pocket for my senior year. At my school, that was about $12,000. In a Godsend, my mother paid for that year. Something like that is priceless.

I finished school in one year, at the end of 2018. Then the job hunt began.

Phase 3 – The Light Faded Out

Literally every single day for a full year straight, I was on Indeed.com and google trying to find a job that matched my skills. I was reaching out to everyone that I knew, trying to find an opportunity. Nothing came. No one responded with opportunities. Again hopelessness.

Phase 4 – In the Darkness, the Enemy Talked in My Ear

After doing that for over a year with no results, I was beyond frustrated. I felt stuck. I felt there was no way out. I began to have a lot of negative self-talk about myself. The enemy would tell me I was worthless, that no one wanted to hire me – that God didn’t want me in ministry (the job I was trying to find). He told me that I was pathetic for being so old without an education and that I waited too late to start building my career. He would say that I would never accomplish anything significant because everything significant takes decades to build. I’m getting old, and the sand in the hourglass is pouring faster and faster. 

Phase 5 – I struggled Through a Formidable Season of Drought

Many days my wife would pray for me before I went to work. My head resting on her shoulders, just listening to her plead to God that an opportunity would come and that things would become different. 

Then that moment came. My DREAM JOB opened, and I was the perfect candidate to fill the position. It was the church I had always dreamed of working at in the town that I loved the most! I had a GREAT report with the staff! And honestly, I knew I would get the job. ALL would be made right.

To my dismay, this opportunity came in the March of 2020 – the month that our state (Arkansas) shut down. 

They canceled the position to wait for COVID to pass. 

I would check their website every day to see when they would post the job. They never did. It’s been over a full year now, and they still haven’t posted the job. 

I had my hands on something I had wanted for over 7 years, and it was ripped from my hands because COVID hit. 

I struggled through 2020 like most people.

Through it all, Jesus was my living water

But through it all, I was never alone or without hope. 

I felt broken and defeated, but I wasn’t. 

I felt hopeless and stuck, but I wasn’t. 

I felt that my head was pinned to the pavement secured by my enemy’s foot. But Christ proved to be stronger. 

At the end of each day, I was able to rest in God’s promises that one day things would be better, even if I couldn’t see it (and I definitely didn’t see it). He provided a wife and child for me, a house to live in, and everything I could possibly need. Even though things were hard, I still had so much to be thankful for. 

Whatever you’re struggling with, God isn’t beyond healing for that struggle. Even though when we look around, all we can see is darkness. If we look past ourselves, we’ll find the grace of God reverberating through our lives, even though our lives might not look anything like we want them to. 

There’s grace to be shared every day, even in seasons of drought. And in those seasons, even though we can’t see that things might get better, they surely will as long as our trust is in Christ and we’re focused on the goals that God has for us.

If you’re wondering, things are radically different now. I was able to land a job with a Christian company that has given me a creative license for digital media – and it’s more awesome than I can express in words. I’m highly appreciated, and I’m given a lot of freedom in my work. As far as a ministry, my wife and I have started a house church that is growing in discipleship and service to the poor. We partner with a local ministry center that we’re actively involved in. To add to that, our house is currently on the market, and we’re moving back home.  I’m now in a win-win position. 

All has been made right.

At a moment’s notice, I stepped from what seemed like a desert – with only one step – right into a lush garden of blessing. And although my struggle lasted for years, I was never without hope or in total despair. I remained joyful with the life I have in Christ. My identity was never based on my employment or anything in this world. My hope was not taken from me. And through it all my eyes were on Christ, my living water in one of the hardest seasons of my life. 

Nourishing me, fueling me, and giving me the strength to press forward, Jesus was there the entire time – faithful to me, just as he promises.

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