It is true there are seasons in life. Sometimes in between seasons, there is a crucial point where we need to push hard to get through. Mine was when I worked as an operational manager at a bread factory in Perth, Mills Bakery.
I had been working in Mills Bakery for 13 years. I was employee number four. I managed the operation of the factory from bread making to cash handling. I practically ran the place.
“Tim, are you going to the bank today?” Don the owner asked.
”It’s Friday so yes I am going,” I replied.
”Be careful we have much more cash this week.”
”Yes, I will, thanks, Don.”
Some customers preferred to pay in cash so once a week I would drag my feet to the bank to deposit it. I never liked making a bank deposit (hated it), but Don trusted no one else.
Well, it was my job, and Don was the boss.
“Hi Tim, a bit early today,” Shane from the bank greeted me.
“Ahh yes, I am leaving work early today,” I said.
“Cool, let me handle that,” he pointed to the briefcase I was holding.
“Yup, thanks Shane, we have a bit more today.”
“No problem at all.”
As I waited for Shane to count the cash I sat quietly and wondered how life would be if I were not working for Mills Bakery anymore. I always wanted to start my own business. I wanted to open a baking school for underprivileged wannabe bakers.
If only I could summon enough courage to make the jump. The truth was, I had worked there for so long I was afraid of losing my identity if I left.
A Bible verse came to mind in the middle of my daydreaming.
Matthew 6:27 “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Ok God, so I was worried, and that did not add an hour to my life. However, guess what, it did not take away an hour either, hah!
Oh look, maybe I did not have the guts, yet.
“Tim, all done,” Shane woke me up from my nap.
“Thanks, Shane,” I replied.
“It was a lot of cash Tim,” he said.
“I know, next time I’ll bring a bodyguard.”
I came home early from work that day because we had dinner with Peter and Esther, our elders from the church. My wife asked me to purchase some ingredients for her special fried beef. Of course, I threw a bottle of port into the shopping trolley for good measure.
“So what’s been happening at work, Tim?” Peter asked.
“Thank you for asking, Peter,” I said. “It’s busy as usual, but I have been getting this prompt in my heart.”
“Yes, about moving on with life, leaving Mills Bakery and start my own baking school.”
“That sounds like a big move. Have you been praying about it?”
“I know, that’s why I haven’t done anything yet. And yes, I have been praying, and I believe God puts these prompts in my heart .. but I’m still scared.”
“I’ll give you a verse, Tim. This might help.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
“Thank you, Peter, it does help.”
“Whatever it is that God is prompting you to do, it is to give you a future and a hope.”
“Hold on, what if I don’t listen?” I asked with my eyes wide open.
“In that case, do you remember the story about Jonah?”
“Yes, Jonah tried to run away. God sent a big fish to swallow him, and He let him stay inside there for three days.”
“You know what the interesting part is?” Peter asked with a big smile.
“Jonah did not know if he was going to come out at all from the fish belly.”
“Hmm, that’s true. God is always in control regardless of how bleak it looks from our perspective.”
“You’ve got it, my friend!”
The following week we had unusually large cash payments from a few customers. I could not fit them into the briefcase, but good old Don was kind enough to lend me his shoulder bag.
I parked my car and started walking toward the bank. It was rather late in the afternoon. The car park was almost empty too.
I had been going to the bank for more than ten years. Surely if anything terrible were to happen, it would have happened already?
I walked past another car, and I swear a shadow was following me.
I kept walking. The bank was not too far from the car, but it felt like forever.
And then it happened. My worst nightmare.
A guy with a mask pointed a gun at me.
I stopped. I knew what he was after. Should I run?
“Hand me the bag.”
“I SAID, HAND ME THE BAG!”
I just stood there.
The next few seconds were blurry. I heard a gunshot. I felt a sharp pain at my left chest.
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t feel my arms.
It was dark .. cold.
“Tim, you are awake,” my wife was standing beside me. Her eyes were red and watery. She looked like she had not slept for days.
“What happened?” I asked.
“You were shot, my dear.”
The shoulder bag saved my life (or rather the cash inside the bag). The bullet path was somehow inflected avoiding any vital organs. The doctor was amazed at my luck. God was truly in control.
My wife and some friends (including Don) came to visit me. They brought chocolate, cupcakes, fried noodle, roast chicken, magazine, and many other wonderful kinds of stuff to keep me entertained and well fed.
Lying in the hospital bed, I could not help starting to think about what could have happened. I could have been physically disabled. I could have died. I could have lost everything.
None of this happened. I was shot and I was still alive.
My mind drifted to my dream of opening a baking school, helping out underprivileged talented bakers who otherwise could not afford proper training.
Then it dawned on me. I had a second chance in life!
“Tim, how are you feeling?” Peter suddenly appeared next to me.
“Peter, I am feeling weak,” I said. “But .. different.”
“Hah!” Peter smiled.
“Well, I think God wants me to do something different.”
“Yes, and I have a feeling it’s not in Mills Bakery,” I said with a big smile.
“Keep going ..”
“I have been given another shot at life.”
I stopped there. I knew what I wanted to do but I could not say it.
Then I felt something warm at my left chest where the bullet went through.
And I said it.
… “I am ready to live my second life.”
“It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time.” — Samuel Johnson