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Monday, April 25, 2011

Tracing the Hand of God

I remember when I met the woman I planned to marry, I was cautious. I didn't want to rush into anything, you know? I mean, I wanted to marry the one that God intended me to marry. So I threw up obstacles. "God," I prayed, "I will ask her father if I may marry her. If he says 'No', I will not marry her." He didn't. But I had a bunch of them. In the time between asking and marrying I had a host of things that were designed more to prevent the marriage than to encourage it. And in every case I got the "go ahead". So, we married.

For us the honeymoon ended quickly. She was pregnant after a short time, and then, right on the heels of that announcement I was unfairly fired from my job. Now I had a pregnant wife and no income. I got work as a night watchman, but security work did not provide a livable income. I decided to try the Air Force. I took the ASVAB, the test to see if you have the basic requirements to get into the military. At the end of the test was a question and answer set that was not a pass/fail, but simply an opinion survey. What do you like? What don't you like? Would you like to work with computers? "Yes!" Have you ever fixed a toaster? "No!" Are you any good with languages? "Yes!" Do you like to work on stereos? "No!" I answered a variety of questions, but every single question involving electronics was a "No!"

When the results were in, they were happy to have me join. "You scored well. You can do anything ... except mechanical stuff." Fine with me. I just wanted some sort of job training that would give me a career. I looked through a variety of things and picked out accounting. I could do that quite well, I was sure. And it would give me a job on the outside -- my goal. "Okay, Mr. Smith," the reviewer told me, "we'll give you a job in accounting. Your opening will be in October." October? Wait, this was June and my wife was pregnant now and we were in need of help now. "What would I have to do to get in sooner than October?" I asked. "Well, you can come into the station here and wait every day. If someone can't get in to go to their assignment -- say, an injury or sickness or something -- and you're qualified to take their place, we will let you go in their place."

The next day I was waiting. It didn't take long for someone not to show up. A broken leg. "Well, Mr. Smith, it looks like you qualify for his job. You can go in today." What was his job? Open electronics. Of course, the one thing in which I had zero interest. But, I reminded myself that my goal was a career and electronics would be just that, so I took it. Once in training, I got my specific electronics assignment ("Open electronics" meant I could do anything from servicing instruments on aircraft to fixing radar sites.) I was going to be an Avionic Navigation Systems Specialist.

I've been in electronics ever since. It turned out that avionic navigation systems was the last field that allowed the full range of electronic maintenance. I worked on aircraft, black boxes, circuit boards, solid state devices, even vacuum tube systems. I learned all sorts of things that would not have otherwise presented themselves. Today I have more than 30 years in electronics. I not only found the work bearable; I found it enjoyable. I've been told I have a natural aptitude for troubleshooting. It was my early experience that got me the job in civilian life that allowed me to rise from test technician to test engineer. It included building, testing, troubleshooting, documenting, even programming. And I've enjoyed it all.

Some might call that a tremendous coincidence. I call it Providence. Some might say that I really got lucky. I call it the Hand of God. Some would say that I've been a fortunate fellow. I'd say I've been blessed. There have been times that I've been able to trace the hand of God in my life. It makes it all the easier, then, to trust Him when I cannot.

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