I remember being in college at the University of Illinois in 1986 and interviewing for prospective companies. Because my college had such a great engineering department (only ranked 2nd to MIT) most companies gladly came to our campus to do their initial interviews. We had a lottery system at U of I where you put your name in for the companies you want to interview. You were given 6 "cards" (2 A, 2 B and 2 C) and you used these cards to increase your odds of getting in. So if it was a company you really cared about you would use an A card. I reserved an A card for Intel that was scheduled to come to our campus in March. I put my card in and the next week found out I was on the list. I studied Intel all week to get ready. They were the one company I really wanted to work for. Then I was told Intel was not coming at all. They were not hiring in 1986 at all but instead were laying off as they got out of the DRAM business and refocused on the microprocessor business instead.
I was depressed.
I did end up getting two job offers that spring. The first offer was from Digital Corporation and the other was Data General. Both jobs were in Massachusetts and were only minutes away from each other. I took that job with Data General (DG) as they gave me a chance to work on computer design. I remember being on the phone telling my mom of my decision. I told her that I was still bummed that I never got my chance to interview with Intel (on the west coast). My mom's words were so profound and so prophetic I remember them to this very day.
"Well I guess God must have something in store for you out in Massachusetts as that is your only choice!"Like a bright orange and black "DETOUR" sign looming ahead, God was pointing me to the east coast. There was no choice in the matter. He was telling me: "You are going this way no matter what John!". God knew what he was doing. For one thing, I had a good friend who also took a job with DG as well and so I had a person to room with. But God had more than that in mind when he sent me out there.
About 2 weeks later after I moved to Framingham, I decided I needed to find a church. My first attempt at find a Lutheran Church was unprofitable as I got lost trying to find a church listed in Hudson. On my third week I decided to try a church listed in Acton. It was only about 15 minutes away and I felt I should be able to find it as it was right off a major route. I went to Mt. Calvary Lutheran church and instantly felt right at home. But God had more in mind for me than just a roommate and a home church to support me.
As I sat in the service I noticed a young lady with the most beautiful head of strawberry blonde hair a few rows ahead of me. I could not see her face at all, but as I sat there at the end of the service I heard these words in my head.
"You're going to marry that girl someday"I still remember looking around a bit trying to see who said that or where that came from. I met this lady at the end of the service and was instantly struck by her charm and beauty. I thought for sure she had to have a boy-friend or fiance waiting in the wings. Over the next year we became good friends and eventually started to date. We had a whirl-wind romance that swept us both off our feet and we were married in April of 1989.
Our first year of marriage was filled with ups and downs. In June, I lost my mother at the age of 57 to bone cancer. In October, Data General laid off 2000 people (out of 14,000) and I was without a job. That layoff was another good thing that happened to me for if I had not been laid off I would have missed an event that forever changed our lives. I was looking at the job ads in the newspaper when I saw Intel was coming to the Massachusetts to interview. I faxed in my resume and instantly got a call for an interview the next morning. I studied all day to get ready and did great. That evening we got a call for me to come and do an on-site interview. I went a few days later and by the end of the day I had 2 job offers and it was my call on which one I wanted. Shauna and I prayed about it and all my other interviews back in Massachusetts dried up and yielded no other options. We were off to California and by January 1st 1990 we were on a plane out west.
I often call Shauna "My Wonderful Detour!", as my mom had so prophetically said, "God must have something in store for you out in Massachusetts". However, in God's eyes this was never a detour. This was his plan and his path. My path and plan would have cut short his plan and purpose and I would never had met Shauna. I am so thankful now God didn't let me go out west in 1986 but sent me the other way instead.
We all have our dreams and plans in our lives. It may be to get a certain job or own our own business. As I watch my own kids now map out their own lives I tell them to relish the detours God puts in their lives. The people they put in their lives that they would not have met had it not been for their change in direction. A lot of the time, God lets us choose our path, but when it really matters I believe God steps in and gives us no other choice. It may be an illness or a job loss. It may be a death in the family or loss of a good friend. But one thing is for certain. Jesus says,
"Truly! I will be with you always! Even unto the end of the earth!"Of course, as they say, hindsight is 20-20. It's easy to look back and see where God's detours were for our best. It's not so easy when we are in the middle of it. When I was laid off I was angry. When Intel did not come to my college I was depressed. I felt I was being punished or not being listened to. We cry out to God that we don't understand what he is doing. It's like meeting a detour sign when you feel you are 10 minutes late already and this alternate path is going to put you even farther behind. We feel resentful towards God in these moments. I am not saying that everyone gets back on the path they had originally planned on going. Yes, for me, I did eventually get my dream job. But even if that had never happened my new path would have been better than to the one I had mapped out for myself. Now when things don't go my way I just remember my mom's words
"I guess God has something in mind for you...."