Wednesday, February 27, 2013

God Is Working When We Are Not Looking - Eleanor Shepherd

           I prayed for three years, that my friend, Marie (not her real name) would find the right job.  Shortly after I met her, I was speaking to our pastor one day about the people in our congregation who were unemployed.  I had a list I worked through, praying for one of them each day. 

            At her suggestion I added Marie, who had not worked outside her home, since she had her children.  Now that youngest child was in school, she wanted to return to the work force. Marie was specific; she did not want to work, just for the sake of working.  Rather she wanted to work somewhere where it would make a difference in the lives of other people.  Her preference would be some kind of Christian non-profit. 

            Over the months as I faithfully kept praying for Marie, I wondered if my prayers were making any difference.  Despite all her efforts, nothing surfaced.  I had no idea her answer would touch me personally.

            In His time, the pieces of the puzzle were being put together, without the awareness of either of us.  One part introduced a role that played by my husband Glen. Early in 2012, as the CEO of a Christian non-profit organization the Board conducted a performance appraisal.  During discussions of this with the Board Chair, an obvious lack emerged.  Glen needed an executive assistant to function to the best of his ability.  However, no budget provision allowed the creation of this position. 

            I knew Glens frustration in trying to operate effectively without adequate support.   I was not surprised when he decided to consider another job offer that came a few months ago. Despite his discontent, I did not believe the time was right for him to leave the organization. Too many possibilities arising on the horizon would fulfill his dreams to make a difference.  We prayed for wisdom.

            A critical Board of Directors Meeting for Glens organization was approaching. A new Chair of the Board would be elected. As Glen was having dinner with Eric, (not his real name) one of the candidates for this position, Eric asked Glen if he was planning to stay with the organization.  This led to a deeper conversation about the job.  Glen felt he, could honestly share his feelings, concerns and uncertainty. As they talked, Glen grew more convinced about what he should do. At the end of the meal, He knew he should stay.  I was pleased when he called to tell me. 

            Eric affirmed the need for Glen to hire an executive assistant, and was convinced they would find the money for it. 

            Another piece of the puzzle confirmed the rightness of Glen's choice, two days later.  Glen was attending the Board meeting of the organization that offered him the job.  This Board also was electing a new Chair.  The other members of the Board concluded unanimously that Glen was the best person for the job.  Obviously, if he accepted this position, he could not take the offered job. He could not be on staff and on the Board at the same time.  When he got off the plane and shared this development with me, I sensed his peace about the choice he made. 

            Pieces were now falling in place quickly. The next day, Sunday, during the coffee time after the worship service, Glen bumped into Marie.  She asked him if there was any possibility of a job at his organization. He said he would love to hire but he regretted there was currently no funding available. 

            Monday morning, at the office, Glen was greeted by the unexpected resignation of his second in command.  Speaking with the Chair of the Board about it, Glen was advised to consider the possibility of restructuring the organization.  Perhaps this would generate funding to hire an executive assistant. 

            Glen began to seriously search for someone for executive assistant, beginning with staff already in place.  No obvious candidates emerged. What could he do?

            During that week, it just happened that Marie came in to do some work for the organization as a volunteer.  Leaving no stone unturned, Glen asked her for a copy of her résumé.  She had it with her.  When he read it over, he was delighted to discover how perfect a fit she was professionally.  Another piece of the puzzle fell into place. 

            As an extra bonus, the Director of Finance discovered a subsidy available from the Quebec government for women who were reentering the work force. Marie qualified to receive this.

           Through all of these seemingly unconnected events, not only was my prayer for Marie answered the career decisions of my husband were also confirmed.  I knew this was more than coincidence when the Director of Finance, whom I considered quite a hard-nosed accountant, commented to Glen, Obviously, God was in this!

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Peter Black said...

Wow! Thanks Eleanor.
That's quite a story -- the hidden-behind-the-scenes drama of the organizations and Glen's and Marie's lives. And just as much a part of it all are your prayers in relation to the purposes and will of God!
What a great encouragement for us to pray for one another in every dimension of our lives.

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thanks, Peter. You are such an encourager!!

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Thanks, Peter. You are such an encourager!!

Harry Read said...

How we thank God for the privilege of prayer and his creative providence. With every blessing to you and Glen.


Wendy Swan said...

how often we forget to bless the Unseen Hand at work in our lives...

Michelle Arthur said...

What an encouraging story, Eleanor! God definitely has the details all worked out and guides us step by step in His perfect timing. Love it!!

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