Proclaim His Glory! MINISTRIES
Ordinary Lives Transformed by Extraordinary Experiences with God
Taking the Plunge
Taking the Plunge
by Bryant L. Heflin
The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving
toward all he has made. Psalm 145:13
My pulse quickened as I crossed the gleaming marble floor of the spacious lobby and waited for the elevator. Ten years with the same Fortune-500 company and yet another corporate merger. Another reduction in force. The elevator door opened and I stepped inside while ticking through a mental checklist. Crisp suit. Power tie. Polished shoes. On time.
For eighteen years, I enjoyed my career in the laboratory technology field and my current position as a medical sales representative. But now—the travel, the hours, the pressure—were taking their toll on me, both mentally and physically.
I need direction, Lord! I prayed. Though well prepared for this crucial meeting, my heart sank into my gut as the elevator ascended to the fourteenth floor. A company-wide mandate required every employee to “re-interview” for their current position, forcing us to compete against employees of the “other” company for our own jobs.
My throat went dry as I walked down the hall to conference room B for an interview with the division’s new corporate executive. My career and future were in his hands.
“Hello Bill.” I smiled and extended my hand. “Great to meet you. I’m Bryant Heflin.”
The interview progressed smoothly, but in the back of my mind, I wrestled with rising concerns about my present occupation. Every time my company bought out another, there were changes. More products to learn. More territory to cover. More time on the road away from home. Despite all the perks, the lucrative salary, and the opportunity for advancement, my sales career was losing its luster. The corporate world was no longer for me. For the first time in my life, I felt overwhelmed by the pressure and the pace. For the first time in my life, I dreaded going to work.
Bill ‘hired’ me over my competition, assuring me of continued employment, but as the months passed, the downward spiral continued and I became more discouraged. Once again my territory was expanded. Once again my company asked me to consider a relocation, so I began seeking employment elsewhere. I had several great interviews for positions closer to home that required less travel, but the offers never came my way.
What is going on, God? I questioned. Do you still care about me?
As the months went by, I plodded on. Gradually, God reminded me of ‘the call’ He’d placed on my life as a college student, eighteen years earlier.
The time is—now, He spoke to my heart at last.
Lord, are You sure? I asked, sensing this was His direction for my life. If You want me in full time ministry, I’m willing to follow Your plan.
After a season of fasting and prayer, encouragement from my wife, and the counsel of Christian friends, I decided to prepare to attend seminary. My extensive business travel gave me the opportunity to visit several schools. There visits clearly confirmed God’s direction.
A seminary student with a family to support usually attends part time, but as I prayed and considered the stress that working and studying for several years part-time, I felt led to pursue my education full time.
Fortunately, many institutions offered distance learning, offering all the instruction through books, tapes, and the Internet. I soon narrowed my school choices, and made plans to quit my successful sales career. The money may have tempted some to stay, especially after the year I’d just completed. But I had no doubt God wanted me to leave my position and attend seminary full time.
This was exciting, but scary. Could we afford to live on savings alone while I attended full time? Could we afford to pay all our bills, replace my company car, pay for tuition and books, and purchase interim health insurance? It seemed like a real stretch, but God assured me He would take care of us.
Step out in faith, He urged.
It felt more like taking a plunge.
Once I finalized my decision, the Lord put His plan in motion.
After driving 45,000 miles per year for business and carting heavy equipment in and out of my van daily, I occasionally experienced a minor problem with my back. Routine physicals never revealed anything to be concerned about. Suddenly, my back pain flared up again, but this time it was different. The pain was severe and radiated down my leg.
A physical exam with an orthopedic specialist and a series of x-rays determined I suffered from a congenital back disorder. My doctor ordered physical therapy, pain medications, and immediately placed me on restrictions. “No lifting more than 15 pounds. No driving more than one hour per day,” he said. “Since this disorder is degenerative and irreversible, you’ll be under medical restrictions for the rest of your life.”
Stunned by this news, I handed the medical reports to my manager. The medical department quickly determined I was physically unable to perform my regular occupation and placed me on medical leave. Though shocked by the sudden turn of events, I felt relieved to discover that thanks to medical disability insurance, I would continue to receive full medical benefits, use of my company car, and 60 percent of my salary for up to 15 months.
Then a few days later, I received a 40 percent grant from my seminary, the highest award available. In less than one week, God provided me with a car, health insurance, 60 percent of my usual income, and significantly reduced my seminary bill! As I stepped out in faith to follow His will, God generously supplied our needs.
After fourteen months of full time study, I completed my seminary degree and began seeking a full time position in ministry. While on a camping trip to a local state park to get alone with God, study His Word and seek His direction; the Lord placed Dayton Christian Schools (DCS) on my mind. A few years earlier, I’d considered an opportunity with them to teach Bible. Now I felt led to pursue a position as Chaplain, ministering to students, teachers, and administrators. When I mentioned this to one of the principals, he was very excited.
“We’ve needed a Chaplain for years, Bryant,” my friend encouraged. “Please make an appointment to see the Superintendent. And tell him I sent you.” With his support, I pursued the leading God had impressed upon me.
When I shared my vision with the DCS superintendent, his face brightened with surprise and awe. He’d dreamed of initiating this type of position for twenty years. After several meetings and much prayer, I became the first Chaplain of Dayton Christian Schools.
Everything was falling right into place. My new position began one month before the end of my medical disability benefits with my employer. However, I soon discovered my new health insurance coverage would not begin until after a sixty-day wait period, leaving my family and me uninsured for thirty days.
What are we going to do now, Lord? I worried. With a wife, two kids, and a serious back disorder, having a lapse in coverage was a risk I could not afford. I looked into short-term coverage in case of major illness, but the cost for just one month was enormous. I decided to call my company to verify the dates.
“Our records indicate September 30th as your last day of service,” said the Human Resources assistant. “However, I see that September 30th is on a Sunday. This makes your last official day Monday, October 1st. Our insurance benefits will continue until the last day of the month of termination, October 31st.”
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“Oh yes, this is correct. I am sorry for the prior mistake.”
“Thank You, Lord!” I shouted as I hung up the phone. Our old coverage would expire October 31st at midnight, and our new coverage would begin exactly at 12:01 a.m. November 1st. God provided for our need right down to the very minute, and was in control of every detail!
I enjoyed the next two years as Chaplain of Dayton Christian Schools. God blessed me with many experiences and challenges that prepared me for another opportunity coming my way. Another step of faith would be required. Another plunge.
At the end of my second year with the school, I accepted a short-term position at our church to work as a ministerial assistant during the summer break. Shortly thereafter, the school announced that due to decreased enrollment and financial concerns, many positions were being eliminated—including mine.
When this news hit me, I was relieved to have temporary employment already lined up. Thank you, God, for providing once again! .
My search for a full time ministry position continued, but as the weeks and months went by, I was still waiting for God to open the right doors. However, as I prayed for direction, He began to reveal His plan. Over time, I sensed Him calling me to be a church planter and pastor a new work. I wasn’t sure I was capable. My family wasn’t sure they were willing.
We were hesitant, but God kept prompting our hearts. We met with a church planter and his wife. Then at lunch a few days later, I ran into an acquaintance, the local Director of Missions for the Southern Baptist Convention. Though unaware of my situation, he mentioned that they were looking to hire a few new church planters.”
My wife and I continued to pray.
After an interview with the local association of the SBC, I was encouraged to pursue the opportunity and undergo an in-depth evaluation used to determine if a candidate has the essential training and experience necessary to be a successful church planter. I passed the test with high scores.
After much prayer and fasting, my wife and I agreed I should follow the Lord’s calling into the pastoral ministry and begin planting a new church in our local area.
Today, I am the pastor of New Life Church, an SBC church plant in Dayton, Ohio. Looking back, I can clearly see God’s providential hand upon my life. Once I stepped out in faith and willingly followed, He generously supplied all my family and I needed during this lengthy career transition.
I believe God waited until I took that step of faith to follow Him unconditionally, before He poured out His blessings. It reminded me of when the children of Israel faced the Jordan River as they prepared to enter the “Promised Land”. The waters were at flood stage, running swift and deep. Though God instructed them to “cross over”, nothing happened until the priests plunged into the water. At once, the river parted and the Israelites walked across on dry ground.
I praise the Lord for providing me with the faith to trust Him, and the courage to “take the plunge”.
Let the LORD's people show him reverence, for those who honor him
will have all they need. Psalm 34:9 CEV
Almighty Father, with everlasting love You care for Your children and provide for those who trust in You. I thank You for caring so deeply for me and being faithful in all You have promised. With confidence and assurance, I follow You in every area of my life. Lord, You alone are worthy of all my praise. I love You and will proclaim Your mighty name forever! Amen.
Excerpt from Experiencing the Great I Am, by Bryant & Cindy Heflin, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Copyright © 2005, Bryant & Cindy Heflin, All rights reserved
This article may NOT be reprinted without written permission from the author. For reprint rights or comments/questions about this article, please contact the author.
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