Alone in Everett on a Hot Summer Day

Knowing how to receive revelation does not make it easy. He is home by himself in the third-floor, two-bedroom apartment on Union Street in Everett. A hospital is over the hill. There are no woods to flee to where he could find quiet. Lauren has taken Grant, age six weeks, to California to see her sister. She is on maternity leave from her job at Harvard Business School.

The plan was that she would go back to work. She makes $28,500; he makes at $28,000 at Pearson Education. But he has known since before day one of his marriage that she will want to stay home with their children. Sure enough, she had told him the week before that she could not bear the thought of going back. He had said ok and then had gone in search of part-time jobs.

Today, in the warm, empty apartment, he has an offer in hand—not part time, but full time. It is forty minutes south and they will need to move. He will net an additional $6000 per year. This will not cover their expenses. They can shave a bit off their housing costs. It is a small business and the owner has promised that he can pick up as much side freelance work as he can handle. If he can do $1000 per month, they can make it—barely.

There are a lot of if’s. He would like to talk about it, ruminate, but there is no one to talk to. He explains it briefly over the phone to Lauren who says, “How do you feel about it?”

“I feel nothing about it. But your maternity is up in three weeks and this is the best I have in hand.”

“I’m ok with whatever you decide.”

He calls his father and explains, then asks, “What do you think?”

His dad: “Sounds like it’s a better deal than what you have.”

What he doesn’t say is that it will require him to work twelve-hour days or more, that he isn’t sure he can even do the freelance work they can give him. But his dad is right—even the chance is better than what he has.

So now he has followed part 1 of the process: study it out in your mind. Now it’s time for part 2: pray for confirmation. If it’s right, you are supposed to feel a burning in your bosom. If it’s not, you’re supposed to have a stupor of thought and forget the wrong thing.

He sits in the white rocking chair that Lauren normally uses for nursing Grant. He prays and asks if this is right. He wants to know he will make it, that he can bring all the pieces together, that he won’t fail at the job or at the freelance work or at finding a place they can afford to live. He is hoping for comfort, peace, clarity of mind.

He finishes his prayer. Normally, Lauren is here for this sort of prayer. Normally, they ask each other for the other’s thoughts and feelings. Without her, he just listens and tries to feel. He is silent for a long time.

What he hears are ambulance sirens screaming as they head over the hill. And dogs barking. And cars rolling by. What he feels is nothing—he is not happy or sad, enlightened or confused. He is simply existing in space on a hot summer day that their window air conditioners cannot keep up with. He is conscious of sweating, of traffic, of sirens . . . and no answer from God.

He must give the business owner an answer that day—they have capacity issues and need people. He goes to his computer, opens the email offer, and types:

Dear Mr. Vayo:

I am pleased to accept your offer to join Pre-Press Co., Inc.

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