It’s not hard for me to find a few major points in my life, big decisions with multiple consequences. Some of those were good decisions, some, not so good. This morning, though, I’m thinking about what seemed like a very small one at the time. But it changed the entire course of my life.
It was the fall of 1975. I’d dropped out of college after my sophomore year and was working at Goodyear Tire & Rubber in Union City, Tennessee. Along with the wonderful perk of walking through the pungent pleasure of the Banbury mixing unit twice daily, the company offered tuition reimbursement. So, intending to become a mechanical engineer with Goodyear’s financial support, I enrolled in a drafting class and a trig class at UT-Martin. Either due to misreading or mis-remembering my schedule, I missed the first day of the trig class.
On the second day, the teacher began on page 67. Although I’d aced two algebra classes and a geometry class in high school and scored a 30 on the ACT-Math test, I didn’t understand anything that woman talked about that day.
Now, I could have found a math tutor, dug in hard for the next forty-eight hours and been caught up by the next class session. But what I did was walk straight from that classroom to the administration building and drop the class. The next semester, I quit my job, moved to Murray State University and began working on my Industrial Education degree. Instead of being an engineer, I became a shop teacher.
Now this isn’t another verse of “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me.” I am a teacher at heart and a craftsman by nature. I can’t imagine that being an engineer would have fit as well or have been as rewarding to me as education has been. But, I will never know.
What I do know is that one incident altered my life, changing my work, my associations, where I lived and, likely, the material standard of living for my family. What difference might have been if I’d chosen “challenge” instead of “surrender?” Regardless, I have a good life; I have been blessed.
More important than any of those realizations is the awareness that God is always at work, in the aftermath of my best decisions and of my worst ones. In all things, He is working for my good. Even when it is least apparent to me.