The course work seemed easy as Jerry struggled to put his life back together. At his true middle age, he found himself homeless and without family or friends.
Each day Jerry arose, dressed and walked the two and a half blocks to the library and sat a computer console to complete the assignments given by his instructors the week before. He was such a regular that many of the staff, along with the other homeless men, knew him by name.
They could count on Jerry. He had a way with people – always upbeat – the sort of guy who could place a positive spin on most any negative situation.
Rarely though did anyone ever think to ask him what ailed Jerry.
But he didn’t mind, as he knew by the end of the second year that he was doing God’s work. It was the design the Creator had laid out before him in several dreams.
The voice in his head only served to reinforce this knowledge. Jerry also had a series of experiences that he knew could only be God-driven and therefore was certain he’d met his calling.
One day Jerry opened his file from the online-university to find a note addressed to him. It was somewhat of a surprise.
“At first,” it read, “I thought you were cheating somehow. But then I watched as you studied, sitting on the edge of your cot in what you call home.”
The instructor, Mr. Armstrong, explained that Jerry was the only student he had that had ever ‘aced’ his course. At first Jerry felt indignant but then the more he pondered it, the more he knew he should wear the acquittal as some sort of badge-of-honor.
Life changed for Jerry as he continued to study. Over the six-year period, he’d gone from destitute to owning a simple home and a decent vehicle.
Jerry had also met and married the woman of his dreams. She was more than willing to put up with his erratic work hours – even having gone to work with him from time to time to show her support.
The only problem Jerry could see in his life, was that his work wasn’t a part of his true calling – the one he had dreamed of all of those years ago. But he also continually reminded himself that ‘God is in charge’ and when the time was right, all would fall into place.
After another two years, Jerry finally came to accept that perhaps his dreams were simply that – “his dreams.” Around the same time he’d also found other ways to serve God, especially through his work.
Then it happened, nearly a decade to the date of his graduation from Divinity school, Jerry’s world began to crash around him. He lost his job, finding himself unable to find another one.
This time though, he didn’t feel the fear of losing his home, wife or even his friends. No, he insisted that there was a job out there someplace for Jerry.
“Odd,” Jerry said to the guy behind him in line, “I thought I had it all.”
“So how’d you end up here?” the man asked.
Sighing heavily, Jerry began to explain, “My wife got sick but was killed by a drunk driver as she headed to work one early morning.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” replied the man.
“Then the bank foreclosed on our home,” Jerry continued, “and because she was the only one with her name of the deed or whatever – I was left out in the cold.”
“That’s heavy man,” the other fellow said.
“Anyway, I’m starting over again – this time as an old man,” Jerry complained.
There was a long silence between the men, filled only with the harsh whispers of men down on their luck, the shuffling of worn-out shoes and the ragged breathing of men who spent to long in the cold evening air around a homeless camp’s burn barrel.
“You know,” the man behind Jerry finally offered, “God has a plan for all of us.”
Jerry glared in the direction of the man, “Don’t you ever tell me God has a plan for me! This is it and there ain’t no more!”
The silence was startling as the others in line grew instantly quiet as they waited for the homeless men’s overflow shelter to open its doors. Each man suddenly felt Jerry’s sorrow and anger co-mingle with his own.