I was laid off from work. Now what?
Have you ever been laid off from work? Do you recall how it made you feel? Maybe you’ve been laid off more than once and you’ve chalked it up as just a part of life that you’ve become accustomed to. Maybe you’re a contractor and do contract work from time-to-time and you’ve never been able to ground yourself into some level of consistent employment. If you’ve experienced a lay-off or have found yourself doing intermittent work, I can now say that I know what it feels like.
In 2016 I was laid off from my place of employment and it was something that absolutely caught me by surprise. The unexpected shock and awe of the experience was something I couldn’t explain, yet it was something real and somewhat surreal. I couldn’t believe it was happening and I really didn’t know how I felt about it. My first thought to myself was what did I do to deserve this? My second thought to myself was what do I do now? But the third thought to myself was “God is in control and He’s preparing me for the next level”.
Once I was able to ground myself after the initial shock of it all, I immediately began to look at the situation as God’s providence rather than internalize the situation thinking that someone was out to get me which could cause expressions of anger, frustration, pity and blame. I recall feeling a peace about the situation and was very thankful that God saw fit to move me from one place of perceived stability to a place of wilderness, which ultimately birthed an intimacy with God I never knew before. It was this transition that caused me to see life from a different perspective. A perspective of God’s timing and faithfulness in the midst of an unknown future.
I was nine months unemployed. I never thought that I would be out of work for a considerable amount of time, but there I was, wondering if I would ever find work again. At least work that would be purposeful and allow me to use my gifts and talents. After sending out resume after resume, doors were closed and opportunities scarce. Yet, I knew that I would be okay if I just trusted God that He would open a door according to His will for my life.
During the 9 months of unemployment, I committed myself to a few things. A few things that I’ve always wanted to do, but couldn’t do it in a way that I wanted to because “life” always seemed to get in the way. So what did I want? I wanted to have uninterrupted quality time with God in prayer and the reading of His Word. I also wanted to become sensitive to God’s voice so that when He speaks, I would be able to tune-in to hear what He was saying to me. I simply wanted to go deeper in my relationship with Him. I wanted to experience God in a miraculous way and study His promises for my life. I wanted to know that God was real. Not just from a knowledge standpoint, but from an experiential standpoint, and that’s exactly what happened.
In the midst of my wilderness journey I committed myself to two activities.
In 2012, the Lord spoke to me in a dream. In the dream He told me that He wanted me to “Lift Men Up”. And today that’s exactly what I’m doing through Anthonyfisher.com. God has blessed me with the ability to communicate and connect with men. He’s also given me the ability to use technology and use my expression of design to birth my first online course. Six out of the nine months, I used what God had downloaded in my spirit to create the Brand of Man Leadership Mentorship Course.
I also committed myself to become more involved in the activities of church. In my wilderness season I knew that I needed to be in an environment that offered support, partnership, prayer and strength. I knew there was no better thing to do than to get involved in the men’s ministry at Wildwood Calvary Chapel. It was in my willingness to step out and get involved that God began to work in me. A work in me that not only produced fruit in my life, but also fruit in others. My involvement in the men’s ministry opened doors that only God could open. In six months, I was asked to lead a group of men in prayer and discuss insight from the Word of God. I was also invited to become a prayer elder and teach in the high school ministry. Six months later, I was asked and blessed with the opportunity to teach in the same men’s ministry which I was committed to be involved in. Today, I am one of a few men who teach the Word of God on rotation. I am truly blessed and honored that God is using me in this way. God’s dream for me and message to me to “lift men up” is happening today and I know it’s just the beginning of the work that God wants to continue to do in my life.
As I read the biblical stories of Joseph, Job, Moses, David, Abraham and Paul, I noticed that each of these men experienced the wilderness once or more in their life. And it’s clear that their wilderness experiences caused them to become humbled in the process. They also experienced delays in their promise, which developed spiritual character and dependency upon God for their promises to come to pass, which ultimately God used to shape them in a unique way for the work, purposes and calling they would fulfill in their life.
So what can we learn from losing a job and being in the wilderness? We can learn that God’s grace over our personal grind has more value and life altering implications than we could ever imagine. God is more intentional of His purposes for our lives than a job that can only satisfy minimal needs. We must remember that we serve a God who can open doors that no man can shut and provide in ways that are beyond our understanding. We can learn (with a proper perspective) that when we are stripped of everything; including our idols, conveniences and expectations, God is allowing this shift to take place and our response towards Him should be that of “Yes Lord, here I am. Speak! Your servant is listening”.
Okay, so what do we do?
In your wilderness and dry season of your life, recognize that God does not desire you to live in the desert forever. He desires to teach you a thing or two and wants you to draw closer to Him and become obedient to Him. In your desert, don’t complain about your current status and don’t fall back into something that’s familiar (like the Children of Israel did). Remember, the purpose of the desert is to move you from where you are to where God wants to take you. Surrender your thoughts, ideas, expectations and fears for His guidance, protection, peace and love.
“Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43: 18-19