It was a perfect autumn day with brilliant sunshine, clear blue sky and a distinct chill in the air. I was in a celebratory mood as I hurried to meet a friend for lunch. It had been twenty-five years (to the day), that I began working as a lawyer and I felt a warm glow of satisfaction. However, even that didn’t account for the spring in my step, as I made my way across the city. I felt an undercurrent of excitement which usually accompanied a change in employment, but as I wasn’t interviewing at the time, I saw it as a premonition.
After we’d been seated at our table, I shared my thoughts with my friend and confided that I believed change was imminent. I’d been with my current company for a few years and knew I wouldn’t progress any further. As I still had plenty of drive and ambition, I was determined to find a role more aligned to my aspirations. However, despite a concerted search and promising meetings, none had translated into an offer, but I was convinced it was only a matter of time. Although I was light-hearted about it, I prophesied the arrival of a new position.
A few days later, I was in church for morning prayers, as was my daily practice before work. As I finished praying, God asked me to note a message. It was rare for me to hear God in this way and although initially reluctant, I took out my diary and noted the following: “Whatever invitation, offer, unfolding now arrives; you are not to have any concern, fear or worry. Pass it all to me, just as I have taught you. Go forward now, you are ready”. Although the message was clearly conveyed, I was confused by its tone of trepidation. I read it a number of times before concluding that I’d soon hear about a new position.
I left the church and walked to the office in a reflective mood. Once at my desk, I became absorbed in my work and had to tear myself away, for a meeting with my manager. As I arrived at the meeting room, I was startled to see HR were also present. A sense of unease washed over me as I took a seat, to hear the grim news that I was being made redundant. I listened in stunned silence and remembered little of the explanations, which followed.
Only a year ago, I’d been diagnosed with cancer and compared to that, this news wasn’t so terrifying. Nonetheless, I was shocked and returned to my desk in a bewildered state. I sat silently reflecting on the enormity of unfolding events. The significance of God’s message that morning kept my despair at bay, but nothing prevented the trickle of shame I felt at losing my job. I struggled to maintain my focus and made it to the end of the day, when I returned home to share the news with my family. Only then did I allow myself to succumb to the darkness, which had threatened all day.
Over the coming weeks, the pendulum of emotions swung wildly. There was undeniable relief at the prospect of departure, yet shame and humiliation that I was surplus to requirements. I grappled with the inevitable sense of failure and rejection at an outcome, which felt deeply personal. Suddenly, my safety net had disappeared and my options were limited. As much as I wanted to find a new job, I knew it would be an uphill task from a position of unemployment.
Work had always been a fundamental part of my identity. Although I was financially comfortable, work provided much needed intellectual stimulation and also accounted for much of my self-worth. I’d been raised with a Protestant work ethic and the thought of sitting idle for months (or longer) filled me with dread. As I struggled to reconcile conflicting emotions over my changing fortunes, God (once again) became my constant companion.
Only a year earlier, God had led me like a Trojan after a cancer diagnosis. Although treatment hadn’t been required, it had taken the best part of the year to transcend the fears, which enveloped me as I learnt to adapt to a life-changing event. It was also that year that I came to fully appreciate the magnitude of God’s love for me; an experience which transformed me back to the carefree soul, God had first created. Consequently, when redundancy loomed with its inevitable narrative of fear and failure, I turned to my trusted friend God and asked for His guidance.
Unsurprisingly, God was unequivocal that the redundancy was good news. He reminded me that although I regretted the manner of my departure (for reasons of ego and pride), I didn’t regret the departure itself. I couldn’t argue with that. However, I remained apprehensive that redundancy would carry a stigma, and hinder, if not derail my ambitions. Again, God took a different view and assured me I would return to a leadership position, but for now He asked me to rest, which meant not applying for new positions. As events had left me physically and emotionally exhausted, I happily packed my bags and set off on holiday.
After a few weeks of idyllic rest and restoration, I began to feel restless. Seeds of doubt began to trouble my days and I feared that if I didn’t take action (i.e. apply for new positions), I might never work again. I shared my concerns with God who remained immutable, reminding me my next role would arrive unsolicited and that I should relax. However, noting my agitation, God encouraged me to apply for positions, if it made me feel better and I immediately updated my resume and contacted headhunters.
To my dismay, my foray into the job market met with a lukewarm response, until suddenly, I was approached about an exciting new position. It was an unsolicited approach and the role was appealing at many levels, but there was a catch – it wasn’t a leadership role. I hesitated as I didn’t want to compromise my ambitions, but the headhunter was persuasive and I eventually agreed to a meeting. Events moved rapidly and it soon became clear I was the favoured candidate. I knew an offer was imminent, but I was still reluctant to accept a role which I considered to be a demotion, so I sought God’s guidance. I knew God would know what was in my best interests, whilst the false gods of pride and vanity may lead me astray. So, I prayed on it and by the time a formal offer arrived, God had made it clear that I should accept.
I was delighted to return to work and immediately noticed I had joined a great company. Without the burden of leadership, I revelled in my work, capitalising on the opportunity to develop technical expertise in a new field. I enjoyed myself to such an extent that I began to consider a long-term future with the company, until God swiftly intervened. He advised me that this role was an “interlude” and carefully sourced to facilitate a period of rest, after a brutal few years. God asked me not to get too comfortable because I’d be moving on, once I’d recuperated.
With that perspective, I enjoyed my position for the development it offered and my spell at that company came to represent the most carefree period of my working life. I was professionally fulfilled, but without the accompanying pressure and stress and departed eight months later, to accept an exceptional leadership role, which had suddenly become available.
After I’d resigned and with a week to serve on my notice period, I was walking through the city past a building site, when a workman walked past me, carrying a large road sign reading “Diversion Ends”. I burst out laughing, not just at God’s wicked sense of humour, but also at the perspective He was giving me about the detour we’d taken.
Now, when I reflect on my redundancy, I recognise it as a glorious opportunity. God asked me to trust Him and led me to a role, which was tailored to what I needed at that time in my life. I was sent to a company, which facilitated my healing and allowed me to recalibrate. Precisely one year after the redundancy, I took the reins of a role, which at that time, was the best I’d secured in my career. God had asked me to trust Him and just like the trapeze, when I let go, He reached out to catch me.