Bigger is Not Always Better

Tonight I am leading a youth activity at my church called Bigger or Better. It’s a team-based game where you get into groups of 4-5 people, and head out into the surrounding neighborhoods in an attempt to trade your starting item for something bigger or better. This is one of my favorite games from my own youth days, and those in the group who have done it themselves have great stories to tell of it as well. The basic idea is you take what you have, go to a house, tell them what you’re doing, and see if they’ll make you a good trade. One guy made this pretty famous with his trades from a red paper clip to a house in 14 trades. I doubt we’ll come back with something that big tomorrow… but who knows. If I remember right, the last time we did it, one team came home with a working refrigerator and a drivable car. Not bad for a couple hours work.

Today I am also being made known of some big changes in my life. I’ve thought this day would come sometime, but it wasn’t until today that it became public and details started to come out. The biggest client of my business, Arelco Inc. (dba National Car Sales, National Car Rental, and other names) in Indianapolis, is being sold to it’s corporate parent, Enterprise Holdings (yes… National, Alamo, and Enterprise all roll up into the same corporation. Did you know that?). Huge news to all involved, including those of us who are “merely” vendors, if you want to get technical. My business, while small, burns through it’s share of cash in terms of payroll, insurance, hardware, and software. We are quite lean compared to most 3 person companies, I’m sure… but we still work hard for our living, that’s for sure. And as of today… over 60% of that money is up in the air. 75% – 80% if you count other business that could is related to this client.

As I mentioned, I’ve wondered when today would come. Actually, it’s probably been a long time coming, to be truthful. The owners of the company have spent most of their lives building this place, enduring good times and bad, and they’ve decided the time has come to let most of it go. I sat across the desk from one of the V.P.’s the other day hearing about it, and as I listened to some details, time tables, I was amazed. I wasn’t seeing dollar signs flying away. I wasn’t seeing hours disappear or question marks stamp themselves across every wall. And on the other hand, I wasn’t feeling some euphoric sense of peace that “passes all understanding.” This is reality. Change is a-coming… change is HERE.

What I did feel, was a tremendous sense of freedom. A weight being lifted off of my shoulders. A yoke that I have carried, in one shape or another, for 16 years.

I started working at Arelco / National when I was 16. I was hired as a summer intern working a few hours a week replacing broken network cards and modems (we seemed to be a magnet for lightning) and learning to program FoxPro. That progressed to regular high school employment. That progressed to a steady job through college, all the while developing passions for data-driven software development. When my boss started his own company, still primarily serving National, I went with him, eventually coming on full time. Eventually, in 2004, when he retired for health reasons, I was given the opportunity to start my own business and head out on my own, picking up a few other clients here and there along the way, as well as a lot of other work that came along with working for a franchise of a continent-wide corporation.

I felt like so much had been handed to me. And it had been. While I wouldn’t call it easy or posh, it was definately what we’d typically call a blessing. But was it… really? Was I special simply because I’d gone from $5.50 an hour to a lot more than that while still in college, and then having a company “dropped in my lap” when I was only 27 years old? In many ways… yes. God’s hand is all over it. But in other ways, as in many aspects of life, I took it for granted. I relied upon my own strength, my own driven-ness, and even the moments when things seemed to just drop into place… I don’t think I fully recognized how great I “had it.” (Queue Rodney Adkings, song, “I’ve Got it Good“)

But as I sat in that office a few days ago, realizing that something’s going to change, and possibly lots of somethings changing big-time, I realized that in many ways, I have bound myself to this reality. In some ways, that’s great. I have developed real relationship with real people who are doing real things with their lives. I support them, help them succeed, and help them survive. I have been mentored, counseled, and taught. And in reciprocation, I have committed much of “me.” And as the reality of this time has begun to sink in over the last year or so, I’ve realized that I didn’t know of a way out. That there really wasn’t one, at least not on the personal side. I was going to have to wait for God’s timing to release me from some of these personal commitments that I truly have been blessed with.

And now that time is here, or so it would seem. I may well continue working with many of these people, depending on where they and I go from here. I might also discover that God is doing more than simply making a drastic shift in where C2IT Consulting, Inc’s monthly hours and income come from. And instead of feeling burdened to force that change, to get it all under control, to come up with some big plan that will handle the unknowns… I feel a sense of release. Of complete. of finishing strong. And I relish that. I relish the peaceful nights’ sleep I have had this week. I love the conversations this has and will stir up between my wife and I. I anticipate the opportunities it’s going to give me to not only show that peace, but to live it out in front of others who may not have it or know where it comes from. I have learned over the last several years that fear of the unknown and uncertainty is not wrong. It’s not bad. It’s not a sign of weakness. Terror might be. Timidity might be. But not fear. I’ve learned that you can only be brave when you’ve experienced fear. You can only be truly courageous when you’ve thrown all your cards on the table and gone all in with God.

This week has been amazing. God has shown up in so many ways to remind me that he DOES have it under control. Those reminders haven’t come in terms of solutions to “problems,” but rather in memories, reassurances, and lives that I have become partnered with. He is, has been, and always will be Faithful and True. To use the words of a TobyMac song I’ve come to really like, “right here and now, I am all in.”

I feel I could write so much. I pray that this all “works out” in not just a manner that puts money in the bank and hours on the clock, but in a way that is a testimony to the steadfastness of my Creator. I not only want him to be pleased with and proud of me, but for it to be something that shows.

So after I walk into meetings and read documents about how things may be going away and changing this morning, I will go into my evening with a chance to share with the youth I’ve come to know and love of how trustworthy God really is. Not just when He’s got it all under control, but also when everything seems so out of control. When you don’t have a clue what’s next or how you’ll get from here to there, repair this relationship, or make it through this hard time.

I feel empty of words right now. I feel more will come. Answers will come, too. I’m curiously excited about what they are. And as I sit here and think about a verse that captures so much of this right now, I know exactly what it is:

In his heart a man plans his course,
       but the LORD determines his steps.
              Proverbs 16:9

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