Journal entry 093011: A change of heart

It wasn’t the first time I prayed this prayer - the one asking God to change my heart. The first time of record would be in Spring 1980. But the resulting change from this particular round of praying was one of the most dramatic. I went back to work for someone else and I am happy about it. Who expected that?

I have been self-employed since 2004, and while I loved the freedom, the structure, the self-dependence, the adventure, and I certainly wasn’t looking forward to giving that up, I realized I had pretty much exhausted the opportunities available to my particular skillset. I knew a year ago I should make a change and consider re-entering the workforce. In fact, I promised Cyndi back in February that I would find something this calendar year.

One reason I was willing was because I wanted to improve our cash flow and to make Cyndi’s impending retirement less scary for her. She says most women worry about finances as often as most men think about sex. Well, that can be a lot. I was willing to go back to work so Cyndi wouldn’t be as nervous.

I also wanted to be able to help my parents financially as we go through their life transition of moving from completely independent living in Hobbs, NM, to a more assisted arrangement here in Midland. They certainly invested a lot in me through the years, and I look forward to returning the favor.

I suppose I also sensed it was time for a fundamental change in my daily life, as in adding more structure and discipline and all that, but I never would’ve said that out loud to anyone.

I knew that going back to work was the right thing to do, the grown-up thing to do, but I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t feel good about it at all. I didn’t want to spend my days sitting in someone else’s office at someone else’s desk on someone else’s schedule pouring over someone’s else’s projects following someone else’s procedures, all at the expense of my own heart. It sounded awful every time I considered it, and I was afraid if I did it I would end up a bitter and resentful old man. For the last ten years my heart has leaned into writing and teaching and I was afraid that going back to work for someone else would squash my efforts. How could I continue to teach other men about calling and purpose if I didn’t follow my own?

So my prayer all last spring and summer was, “God, this appears to be the right thing to do but it churns my stomach just thinking about it. I’m asking You to change my heart.”

And then this summer an unpredicted opportunity came up out of a conversation I wasn’t even part of, between my friend Brent and a new resident in our neighborhood, Ken, who happens to be an engineering manager with Apache Corporation, a large independent oil and gas producer. The next thing I knew I was mailing a resume and interviewing for a consulting engineering position. More surprisingly, I was happy about it. I considered it a fun opportunity to learn new things and meet new people and enlarge my circle. I was a changed man.

I started working in Apache’s office in Midland three weeks ago, on Monday, September 12th.

One day last week, over a Texas Burger, Mark asked if I had figured out how to squeeze in time to write, and I said, “I’m not sure, yet. I decided if God had brought this job opportunity I had to relax and expect Him to help me work out the rest of my schedule.”

Apparently I haven’t always lived that way, so loose with my plans and all, because Mark grinned at me and said, “Is this my friend Berry Simpson I’m talking to?”

In fact, I’ve enjoyed my brief three weeks at Apache. I like the people I’m working with and the work environment in their office, and I’m looking forward to an extended stay.

But I’m a different man than I was only six months ago. My heart has changed. It has God’s fingerprints all over it where He gently molded it into this new shape, so subtly I never noticed it happening on the fly.

It’s somewhat risky writing about answered prayer, though. What if this doesn’t work out? What if circumstances change? What if Apache decides having an old silverback engineer lurking around their well files is no longer in their best interests? What if I claim this as answered prayer only to see it disintegrate? I don’t want to embarrass God by having to issue a retraction.

However, it isn’t really this particular job that I’m most excited about, it’s the change in my own heart - subtle on the outside, huge on the inside, and more than obvious to me. Like I said in the opening, this isn’t the first time I’ve prayed for this, and it isn’t the first time God has changed my heart.

I hope you’ll pray this prayer the next time you have to do something you don’t want to do, or when you have a looming confrontation on your horizon. Maybe that’s one of the keys to being content in all things, allowing God to change your heart.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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