Paul explains to Titus that the grace of God has appeared. The Greek word translated “appeared” gives us our modern word epiphany. We use it to describe a sudden and intense realization of truth. To a writer an epiphany is that sudden idea for a story or maybe a line of dialog you just couldn’t get yesterday when you were writing.
Brian Kiteley says in his book The 3pm Epiphany, our own minds build continual fabrications, elegant and simplified summaries of reality. The stories we write are made up of all sorts of bits of language and images, knowingly borrowed some of the time but most of the time unconsciously stolen. There are a lot of other people’s words and symbols in our writing, whether we want them or not.
We as Christians are called to have the mind of Christ and the Holy Spirit dwells within us, gently guiding, speaking and advising us, even praying when we are not able. Think of the great help we can get for our writing with God as our editor in chief, so to speak. That is why I love solid, Godly books written by Christian authors. While I was on my one month forced sabbatical I spent a great deal of the time reading my Bible and some really good teaching books.
When the Greeks spoke of an epiphany, they were referring to the breathtaking view of sunlight bursting in power over the edge of the world to illuminate the darkened earth. The grace of God, Paul tells us, brought light to our world after years of darkness. I borrowed that from the current book I am reading called Captured by Grace by David Jeremiah. I have had several epiphanies from that book and the others I have been pouring over lately. God has been ministering to me in these writings and showing me the pattern my life has been following in the last three years in particular.
Suddenly I see a perfect plan that has been playing out to put me where God wanted me to serve him best. I needed specific training and I could not have organized that myself because I didn’t even know what I was going to be doing. I thought I came here for one job but that was only part of my training. All of the training has had long hours and hard work in it but God has given me strength and good health to continue on. Many times I wanted to give up. I would cry out to God, “this is too hard, I can’t keep going.” His grace was sufficient to keep me moving forward and the hard patch would ease up, the problems disappear for a while.
My first job was in an Indigenous boarding school. That was the longest training because there was a lot to experience and learn. The girls were from 12-16, a good age to be open enough to share stories about culture and life in the communities. God gave me the grace to love them and treat them in a manner that was acceptable to them and I gained their trust quickly. I learned a great deal from the dozens of girls who went through my dorm and I was blessed by the opportunity to share with them, pray with them and help them to adjust to life in the white world. They came from many communities throughout the territory and other states. Some of them would say, “Miss you should come and work in our communities” and I’d say, “Well I don’t know what I’d do there and I’m the wrong color to just go there and live.” They’d laugh and try to figure a way to get me to their community.
My next job was in safe house with younger kids, boys and girls. I was skeptical about that since I’d never been comfortable with young kids and didn’t know what to do with them. Again God’s grace came in and it was no problem. Kids will pretty much show you how to treat them and what they like if you let them. Again I learned what I needed quickly and loved the kids despite their problems which made them go from fun to abusive in the blink of an eye. In this job I saw the damage done to very young kids by family use of drugs and alcohol, parents separated, in jail and sometimes dead. It was very hard work both physically and emotionally and always the potential for danger. The shifts went until 10 at night and then a drive home through a less favorable area but I never feared because God gave me an assurance that nothing would happen to me. In this job I learned what you could expect to find in some homes in the communities.
The next job was completely different and a whole new learning curve. I was a Housing Officer in charge of tenancy matters in a homeless complex. It was a new thing set up by the government to help indigenous people learn how to take care of their house and family. Many of the people had been living rough which means possibly out in the bush with a tarp for a roof, or on a mattress or blanket, outside a family member’s house which is too full for any more people. Overcrowding is the key word around here and our complex was to help out with that problem. In this job I worked with adults, singles and families and children of various ages from tiny babies to teens.
I had to learn office work; writing leases, property inspections, maintenance checks and helping the people understand what their responsibilities were. It was intense learning and very little training so it was me and God and the people who worked in government housing who I worked with closely and asked many questions of! I thought at long last, this was the job I’d stay at until I retired. Well if you read my previous blog you can see that whole story as to what happened to that dream. I really started questioning God on this job. I was so sure for so many reasons that this was the place He wanted me to the end of my work life. Now what made me think there was a time coming up in the near future when I would retire anyway? I guess from the time I was a young woman I always thought there would be a certain age when I’d retire and do what I wanted to do but God has other plans for me.
The last job was the hardest on me because of the accusations and the constant stress of the bullying and harassment. I cried a lot of tears, felt a lot of anger and confusion and felt abandoned by everyone in the company. When my month of sabbatical time came I was looking for answers and I launched into my books and even ordered a couple more for my Kindle. I read some very old books and some new ones and God spoke to me in different ways, showing me what was happening and how I should be reacting. I found that suffering drives us deeper. We find God at the broken places in our lives and there He can teach and encourage us. One of the writers stated at the end of a trial we will see that what we thought was an affliction and misfortune was in reality a blessing without which we would not have grown in faith.
So now, my new job is working for the government housing as a Remote Housing Support Officer. I now go out to those communities I’d learned about through the other jobs. And yes, I’ve already seen some of my lovely girls who are now a little older but still very happy to see me working in their communities. I’m working with families and I am familiar with their problems, their trials and worries. I understand when the husband is in jail and it is hard to pay the rent and I know how to help them. It took the other three jobs to train me for this one job. There is way more paper work on this job and long trips out to the communities with the likelihood of spending a week out there, away from home. This job pays more than any of the other jobs but that is not the best part. This job is not just paper work and money in my pocket. It is making life better for other people, helping them have a home and teaching them to take pride and respect in their home and family and themselves. It is what I came here for and I have as many years as God grants me to do the best job I can and take the love of Christ to these people along with their leases and their rent receipts.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:6-9
Scriptures like this are an epiphany to me when I read them and suddenly they shine light on what I am doing in my life right now that I never dreamed of a few years ago when I read the same verses.