After liquor destroyed his career, he had to start all over again. With a leap of faith, he took his sponsor’s suggestion
Like many people who come through the doors of AA to find sobriety, my life was in shambles. My “gas tank” was empty and I was running on fumes in all aspects of my life: spiritually, emotionally, physically and financially. My wife had just pulled out and had taken about everything that wasn’t nailed down. My problems were compounded when she left, because by then, my chronic alcoholism had made her the primary breadwinner by default.
Although I had at one time been a competent businessman with good earning capacity, I had become a hopeless alcoholic. Because of my continuous drunkenness, I had burned all of my corporate and professional bridges and was unable to find work of any kind.
After months of complaining about my lack of employment, my sponsor offered a unique idea. He asked, “Why don’t you try praying for a job?”
Praying for job? What kind of solution was that? I had always used deceit and my superior intellect to con my way into various high-paying positions, and now some old man with an eighth-grade education and who made his living as a heavy equipment operator wanted me to pray for a job? Imagine that.
For no other reason than to prove my sponsor wrong, that very night I prayed for a job.
To my surprise, the first thing the next morning the phone rang. It was my neighbor from down the road. He had heard that I was looking for work and he had a position for me working as a tail sawyer at a sawmill, with a starting wage of $8.00 an hour.
For those who don’t know what a tail sawyer is, he’s the person who takes the lumber immediately after it’s been cut and stacks it in various piles according to length, width and thickness.
Clearly my neighbor did not realize that I was a 32-year-old university graduate and that any kind of manual labor was considerably below my station in life. And what was this $8.00 an hour nonsense? In my entire life, I had never worked for as little $8.00 an hour, not even when I was a kid.
But before I refused this employment outright, I had a flash. I would phone my sponsor to tell him how his ridiculous “praying for a job” experiment had worked out. So I called him and explained the exact situation. I remember the conversation as if it were yesterday.
“Roy, I prayed for a job last night,” I told him, “and this morning I was offered a position as a tail sawyer.” “Fantastic,” Roy responded.
“But it pays $8.00 an hour,” I said. “Better yet,” he replied.
“But that’s not what I prayed for,” I said. “What kind of work did you pray for?” he asked. “I didn’t specify, I just prayed for a job,” I answered.
“Well, what is this?” he said. “A job,” I answered.
“Apparently this is the job that God wanted you to have because you prayed and he answered,” he said. And then he hung up.
So for the next three weeks I worked as a tail sawyer for $8.00 an hour for my neighbor down the road and my life was rocketed into “the fourth dimension of existence.” Not only did I love every aspect of the job, but that $8.00 an hour not only kept the gas, electricity and telephone on in my house, it allowed me to earn something way more valuable—my first speck of humility.
That experience of praying for work taught me that through some of God’s smallest windows you can see some of the largest vistas. I also recognized that the difference between a stepping stone and a stumbling block is six inches, those being the six inches between my ears.
Over the years, I was able to turn that humble beginning in the sawmill into something more than I could have asked for or imagined. I became fascinated by the whole woodlot management process. For several years, the woodlot became my life’s work. By God’s grace, I was able to share my experience, strength and hope with other small forest owners, showing them precisely how they can have fun, make money and protect the environment all at the same time.
Now, 25 years later, I own my own saw milling company. When my friends ask me how I did it, I simply reply, “A day at a time.”