Monday, March 31, 2014

Why go for second best?

If the Lord is the very best, why accept less than the very best.
When I was growing up money was very tight. It was a time of economic recession in the 1950s.
As a young Boy Scout when most other kids could afford to buy sponsored scout gear, I was reduced to making my own gear. My back pack frame was made from the ladder back of a wooden chair that hard been ready or its terminal trip to the refuse heap at our community trash dump. Don’t be mistaken, it got the job done because it allowed me to transport my canvas pack and support the gear it contained for hiking and camping. My camping gear was the remaining World War Two equipment my dad had brought home from the war: shelter halves and mess kit.
As I got older, this mindset stayed with me. Without affirmation from an often absent father, I lacked the confidence to believe that I was worthy of having quality material things.
I was always willing to accept second best.
In my senior year in high school, I had the opportunity on Career Day to visit California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. After hearing a lecture by Dr. Linus Pauling, I wanted to attend CalTech, but thought that my grades were probably not good enough, so I didn’t even try. Don’t get me wrong, I was not a bad student, pulling down Bs and a few As. Besides that, my parents could not afford to pay the tuition for me to go to CalTech.
I was a member of an Explorer aviation squadron during high school and loved to fly the sailplanes we had. I thought maybe I could try one of the service academies and get a college degree paid for by the government. I applied for an appointment to the Naval Academy and was only able to secure an alternate appointment, so I decided to register for Junior College. San Bernardino Junior College had an excellent aviation program, so I signed up for that. It was the best of times and my aviation instructor put me up for a scholarship competition just at the time I was ready to graduate with an Associate of Arts degree in Aeronautical Technology.
I was one of two people selected in the competition and won a full-ride scholarship to Northrop Institute of Technology to take a degree in Electronic Engineering. Now I had to make a decision. Did I want to take the scholarship and give up on my dream of becoming a Naval Aviator or did I want to take the Electronics degree? After some discussion with my fiancé, I decided to give up the Navy goal and go into Electronics; a booming career field at that time.
The Navy did not allow midshipmen to be married, so going to the Academy would have meant postponing our marriage for four years.
Most of my fellow classmates at Northrop took jobs in the electronics industry at some very good salaries. I decided to take the safe route and went to work for a telephone company in the small desert town where I had graduated from high school at far less salary than my fellow NIT graduates. I avoided taking the necessary written test to work at Pacific Bell because I didn’t have the confidence that I could pass it. Don’t get me wrong, the phone company job allowed us to move back to a familiar environment near where we had met and had gone to high school. It wasn’t the best, but it worked for me and my family.
I was not yet a Christian, although my wife and I attended church regularly.
After a couple of years at the phone company, they were bought out by another phone company and I began to look around for other work. My job in the Building Engineering department was not very exciting or overly challenging, despite the tremendous personal growth I experienced learning electrical engineering. I had really wanted to work with microwave engineering, but no jobs were available after I completed six-months as a Management Trainee. The local cement manufacturing company placed an advertisement for an electrical engineer. I interviewed for the job and got it.
After a few years working in the plant, I had moved around through several jobs: Electrical Engineer, Packing Foreman, Production Foreman and then Electrical and Instrument Foreman. While working as Electrical and Instrument Foreman the Plant Manager decided that I needed to gain more personal confidence and speaking ability and I signed up for a Dale Carnegie course entitled “Human Relations and Public Speaking.” During the fourteen week course I was able to find the confidence that has served me well to this day. Later I was promoted to Maintenance Management Supervisor in charge of all plant maintenance planning.
Just after the Dale Carnegie course, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and made Him Lord of my life.
I quickly learned that accepting a personal relationship with and serving God was moving me toward eschewing second best and going for the very best: God’s will!
As I look back to that time, I reflected on the fact that had I gone to the Naval Academy, I would likely have been sent to Vietnam and possibly have given my life there. God was watching out for me even when I did not know it!
In 1972, I was selected to move to the office of the Vice President of Operations as his assistant. While working at the local company headquarters I sensed a call to full time ministry and began to prepare myself with courses to qualify for the necessary church credentials to ultimately become a pastor of a church.
After being credentialed as a Christian Worker, the first level of credentials, I had changed jobs and was hired as a part-time Associate Pastor at a church in the new town we moved to. While serving that church, I was called to prepare to be a Navy Chaplain. Finally, the Lord had me where He wanted me in the Navy, not as a pilot but rather as a “sky pilot” (what some call a chaplain).
God’s plans are always the very best!
He always prepares us for the destination He intends for us and it is always the best. The pathway to the best takes us through second best at times, but always ends up with His best!
Don’t let anyone tell you to do what you can and then let God finish it for you. That is second best because you are the weak link in that chain.
The very best is experienced by doing what the Lord wants you to from the very beginning!
The world will try to draw you in to the second best. Scripture tells us that, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1Pet. 5:8 KJV). So there is a being or force working to divert us from positive endeavors. This being or force is identified as God’s enemy, the devil.

Don’t accept second best!