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It ain’t because there is no work available. Let’s get that right out in front of everything else. All the world is screaming out for labor; look around you. Every Walgreens and McDonald’s is looking to pick up some extra help. If I were a video game character and I were playing through life as myself I would be picking up extra shifts in between job applications. I’d have a job in a week; a good job, one that my mother would be proud to tell her friends about. I’d still pick up shifts at McDonald’s; more money is better than less money, and there’s nothing wrong with those jobs.
Video game characters don’t get tired, not like real people do. I’d have an even better job a month after that. Not honestly mind you; I wouldn’t have given full value to that first employer, not enough to cover the costs of hiring and training me. Video game NPCs don’t fill out government paperwork. And they take it pretty well when you do things that’d seem skeezy to real people. But I’m not a video game character and I’m not moving up in the world.
I’d rather do almost anything in the world than go job hunting. Now, there are a great many things that are wrong with the job market but the thing I really can’t stand is the lying. No job description ever really describes the job you’ll be doing; “must be able to bend and lift 50 lbs. frequently” means “You’ll spend all night sweating to lug trailer hitches around, hating your life.” True story. But that’s at most half the equation. You have to lie to get a job. You have to stretch the truth on a resume. “I know how to use the SUM function in Excel” becomes “high level proficiency with Microsoft Office.” You lie on the job interview. And somehow we’re still surprised that no one’s happy with the job they’re doing.
And so I’ve been eating my seed corn. While working in the hard drive factory I built up a surplus of cash, and living fairly simply I haven’t yet worn it out. Thing is, I know how the game is played; I know what a tremendously bad idea living like that is. I’m a good conservative, mind you. Those that don’t work don’t eat, and I’ve never seen anything wrong with that. I figured when I got hungry enough I’d do something at least. In my darker musings ‘hungry’ wasn’t a metaphor.
Today though, I have a calling. Let me tell you a story. It begins yesterday morning, when I’m waking up and trying not to. Too awake to sleep, too tired to get up and do anything. I’m trying to shut down my spinning mind, and so I begin to pray. Praying is an excellent thing to do in those situations. Now, most of my prayers are of the “Lord, I want” variety, but when I’m feeling a little more formal I go through a checklist of things to talk to God about. First item on the list is Adoration; praise to the Lord. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it, praying alone with no guide, but I found I was rapidly running out of things to say. When you’re singing a song there’s the next line, and when the song’s done you’re done. But what do you do when you’ve got no hymnal?
What I do in those cases, I recount the Lord’s mighty deeds of the past. They’re good to remember, and you’ll find plenty of support for the idea in the Psalms even if you’re having trouble finding them in modern worship music. I’m not terribly poetic about it, though I try to be. “Oh Lord, remember that time you gave manna to the Israelites in the desert? And —
And I got stuck there. I couldn’t think of anything else. Okay, clear my mind and… nothing. Do it again; still stuck on manna. I should probably think through that story; God is trying to tell me something. Okay, Israelites in the desert, no food “why have you brought us out here to die?” manna on the rocks, they could gather enough for one day, but more than that and it’d spoil, except for the day before the sabbath when it’d last for two days, oh. They were living day to day dependent on God’s grace. Oh. Okay, that’s it.
Uh oh. Jumping back to video games, you ever run into a room, find medkits and ammo, and realize there’s a boss fight coming up? Yeah. The good Lord doesn’t often speak to me, so that probably means something hard is coming up. Great, I’ll just walk around with a feeling of impending doom all day. But I did keep that in mind, and the “Give us this day our daily bread” from the Lord’s prayer. And I thought about that, sitting outside the CVS. I had some prescriptions to pick up.
Thing is, I briefly have insurance, related to that trailer hitch thing I mentioned. But I didn’t do enough work to merit using the insurance. So do I buy the pills without insurance and take a hit to my dwindling resources, or do I do something I think is dishonest? I tabled the discussion and went in to buy Zyrtec. I have it prescribed for my allergies, and burn through it like California wilderness. Thirty pills to the bottle run out fairly quickly. I figured I’d pick up two. On the shelf there’s the normal bottles, and “Ten extra pills!” same price. There are exactly two of the bonus bottles in stock.
I laughed. When the Lord speaks to me it’s usually in the form of a joke. Not making light of a thing; laughter as an expression of joy. “What are you worried about? I’ve got this.” It’s all well and good to believe in manna on a desert hillside ages ago. I find it harder to stomach in corporate America, present day. And… right as I’m writing this I got a call asking for a little help on spreadsheet work. Friend of mine runs a small business, can use a little on-the-cheap automation. Whaddaya know.
Then this morning the other shoe dropped. Woke up early. Didn’t have to get up for another while yet. Clear head, warm bed, I lay there thinking for a while. My mind sped up. You know how people talk about getting in the zone? I was leaping from idea to inference to insight just like that. “The amount is irrelevant; a man who will kill for a million dollars will kill for five bucks if the circumstances are right.” I couldn’t have told you that yesterday. The most fundamental truths of reality can’t be comprehended by the human brain; it’s a limitation in the matter. Like a black hole, you can only make inferences by the way light bends around it. That’s why poetry works; when it’s good it reminds us of something we all know to be true but simply can’t grasp as human beings.
That’s all I have to do. Speak the Truth. That’s it. The Truth can be an immense and terrible thing, but I can do that. And for now, the place I need to do that is on Ricochet. The Lord is directing this operation, and He will move me as He needs me to move. No job applications, no government programs, The Lord has given me this calling, and the Lord will provide. I won’t even have to sell my Magic collection. You just wait and see.
(And if He doesn’t? What will you say when you’re starving? Well, I don’t know. I’ve never been in that dire situation before. I hope and I trust that I will still praise the Lord.)Published in