Several years ago I was given a book by a very special friend. The book, “The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life,” was written by Bruce Wilkinson in 2000.
It is based on the Old Testament passage 1 Chronicles 4:9-10: “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, saying, 'Oh that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from the evil one.’ And God granted his request.” (NIV) In the book, Wilkinson encourages Christians to invoke this prayer for themselves on a daily basis. I started reciting the prayer based more on the enthusiasm shown by my friend about the book and the prayer.
Little did either of us know at the time that this little prayer would change the direction of my life for years to come.
Within a short period of time I was offered the opportunity to oversee my first senior living community, which also meant moving to Richmond Hill. This led to a wonderful career for the next 15 years until my recent retirement from the senior living industry.
As most who follow my column know, my wife and I moved to Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, this past summer, and within a month or so I found myself desiring to stay engaged with the workforce. I found a nice, easy job in a small resort fitness center and felt happy about the opportunity to help people stay fit and well.
As content as I have been over the last few months, I could not help but feel there may be more out there for me to discover and delve into.
Then I remembered the prayer of Jabez - and started talking to God about enlarging my territory once again. One has to be careful when talking to God, especially because God's plans do not always coincide with our own plans. A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from a gentleman who wanted to know if I would be interested in overseeing a new senior living community being built in Panama City Beach. My immediate thought was that I had finished this chapter in my life and it was time to move on.
Then I remembered the prayer. As much as I was ready to say, “No,” God was saying, “Not so fast, think again.”
Since Hurricane Michael struck the Panama City area, there has been a need for more housing, and that includes homes for seniors. In fact, the opening of Seagrass Village could not have much better timing. I agreed to interview for the position and beginning next week, my territory will be enlarged once again.
It’s hard to imagine jumping back into the frying pan, but it’s even harder to imagine not answering a call from God. I pray that God’s hand will continue to be with me along this journey.
And although I feel I have been down this path before, I also pray that he will keep both my head and my heart open to the new faces and facets of Seagrass Village.
In times like this, I like to remember one of my father’s favorite verses, Colossians 3:23: “And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” This verse goes hand-in-hand with the prayer that Jabez prayed to God.
Prayers are powerful, my friends.
Rich DeLong is the executive director for The Villas & The Grand of Seagrass Village in Panama City Beach, Florida. Email Rich at SeniorMomentsWithRich@gmail.com.