Five years later, Joe's hard work paid off as he received a plum position assignment as the leader of a team doing work for a large European corporation, designing new buildings for operations in London, Frankfurt and Paris. Joe even mastered to a working level both German and French and his host company loved him and his efforts. At the time of completion of the project, he was rewarded with a huge stock option package and was asked to become the Corporate Senior Vice President for Development at a very young age. He excelled and would go on to become the President and Chairman of the Board of a Fortune 500 engineering consultant group with offices all over the world. And by then thought, indeed he had the power even though that little voice again told him to be careful.
Now, John was a highly ethical executive and he had grown up as the son of a minister with a grounding in faith. But the faith had fallen by the wayside and as he got within a couple years of retirement, he pondered his situation. He had a wonderful wife who loved him dearly as did he love her and despite his many travels he remained faithful to her. The couple adopted two baby girls from China when they learned they could have no children of their own. The girls were raised to of high morals and productive in life, and he was proud that one was a rising lawyer in a good firm and the other a computer wizard, highly courted by some of the best high tech firms in the world. But he also knew that the credit really belonged to his wife, Emily, for he always put business first. He was
an excellent provider and always faithful to his wife, but he knew she had been disappointed by him many times when she wanted to share in the success of the children and he was always off at work. As he pondered that, he found a letter waiting for him from Tommy Wainwright, a boy he hadn't seen since his first reunion from high school nearly thirty years ago. Tommy had been a good friend of his in high school but he had never kept in touch due to his work first regimen. He anxiously opened it and began to read.
"Hi Joe, I hope you remember me but I was thinking about you. I saw where you will be coming to Pittsburgh soon and I was hoping we could get together while you are here. You remember when the boys always teased me by calling me Preacher? Well, you were the only one who got them to lighten up and yes, I am now a pastor and have led a congregation back here in Pittsburgh for the last ten years after years of moving around. You are truly our class celebrity and I'd love to have lunch with you and see what got you where you are. Stories likes yours are always of interest. So, I hope you might call me at Grace Fellowship Church if it would be possible. God bless you, Joe. Tommy"
Joe chuckled as he remembered the nickname and the boy and he almost threw the letter away, but for some reason, he put it in his briefcase. He thought he might want to read it again and he did so on the corporate jet as he traveled from home base in Houston to Pittsburgh. He was busy all day with meetings but that night he called the number give on Tommy's letter and was surprised when Tommy answered the phone.
"Tommy it's Joe from high school here in Pittsburgh," Joe said. "I would like very much to get together. I'm here for the next four days and the day before I depart, I will be clear after eleven in the morning. Call me at the hotel and let me know."
Tommy invited Joe to meet him at the church at noon of that open day. It wasn't far from Joe's conference location and they agreed on going to a small Italian restaurant the Joe knew of as well. He’d been to Pittsburgh many times. When Joe drove up to the church, he was impressed. It was a very beautiful stone church with a manicured front entrance and a welcome saying "For all who are burdened or troubled, welcome to the House of the Lord." Tommy greated him in a simple blue suit with clerical collar, smiling and looking at peace with the world and the two men just stood looking at each other for a moment. Both looked amazingly fit, Joe from heavy workouts at his corporate gym and Tommy from coaching part time for the track team at a local private school. They reminisced about high school then walked the two blocks to lunch in a nicely restored small business district.
As they sat at a quiet table waiting for their lunch. Joe gave him the Cliff Notes version of his life, explaining his drive in all things, about his family which was so supportive which had to always take a backseat to his work. And then, out of the blue, Joe told Tommy about his little voice which told him not to be careful about power, and asked his old schoolmate, a man who knew his Bible very well, what it might mean. Joe didn't usually confide like this, but seeing Tommy again after all these years, he just sensed something about him and his devotion to God which told him it was safe to do so. Tommy picked up on that and took a very cautious approach before asking for more.
Tommy began, "Well, you know, Joe, that I'm no Daniel and sometimes interpretations of dreams can make the dreamer upset. And while I could be very wrong, I think I have a fairly good idea of what it means. So, if you can temper what I say with a grain of salt and not hold it against me, I'll try. And I hope it won't upset you."
Joe explained that in his corporate world, being hurt by something someone said would cause nothing to ever get done, so he urged Tommy to go ahead. He was accustomed to and could handle directness.
"Well, Joe," Tommy the minister said, "Maybe you just don't understand who really has the power. Ultimate power exists with God and He has expectations of what the power He has given you should be used for. From what you've told me, you have been an honorable businessman and it is admirable that you and your wife saved those two children from what would have likely been a tragic short life for them, but God expects more from you. While you have devoted your life to being the best you can be in the business world and providing for your family, you haven't thought much about what God wants from you. I know you were raised in faith, but you since you never mentioned it, perhaps you have left it behind."
Joe pondered things and they talked frankly for hours and as they prepared to leave, Tommy asked, "I would like you to meet me early in the morning tomorrow if you can. What time does your flight to Houston leave?"
Joe explained that he would be picked up by the corporate jet and it was at his timing. Tommy said he would pick Joe up at his hotel at 5 a.m. sharp in the morning and then take him to the airport after breakfast. They agreed and now free for the rest of the day, Joe pondered what Tommy had to show him that was so important. Then, uncharacteristically, he called his wife and told her when he'd be back the next day. Tommy's words had told him he needed to be more appreciative of what she did and he planned to make it up to her.
The next morning, Tommy was at the pick-up point right on schedule and Joe was in casual clothes. Once the bellhop had loaded Joe's things, the two men headed across the river and Tommy drove up a steep incline to a viewing overlook as the darkness turned to gray. He pulled off, they got out and Joe was amazed at the view before him. On this beautiful morning, below them was the river, the booming city of Pittsburgh and slight fog in spots as they faced what would be the sunrise. The gray started turning to pastel hues and then, slowly from the eastern horizon came the sun, ever so slowly climbing as if directly out of the earth. As the rays started to shine, the darkness began to give way to the vivid colors on earth below and it was impressive. Tommy said they'd say nothing for a few moments and just look and Joe, awed by what he saw, relaxed and enjoyed the view. A few minutes later as the sun completely opened with its warmth and bright light to the city below, Tommy and Joe sat on an observation bench and he spoke to Joe.
He said, "Joe, what you just witnessed was the real power, the power of the Lord. The sunrise, always on time, is just one very small example of it. Your physical being and the talents you have used so well, represent another. Everything we are and have was created by God and He has great plans for us going forward, even a great corporate titan like you. But to understand what he wants of this power, He needs you talk with Him and walk with Him and He'll guide you. Oh, it won't come all at once but if you open yourself to Him, it will grow and it will mold you into what He wants of you and when it does, you'll have peace, not questions about what He expects of you and all of us."
Joe was truly touched and as he and Tommy enjoyed that breakfast before departing and he realized it was time for him to retire. He was secure and there was something much greater than himself that he could do with the rest of his life. He was wealthy, he could do anything he wanted and he now knew what that needed to be and he wanted to do it while he was young enough to do it well. He bid Tommy goodbye and flew home, telling his company chauffeur and driver to take him home instead of the office on arrival. He also stopped on the way and picked up beautiful flowers for his wife and said he was going to take the next two days off. The chauffeur smiled, knowing that something had changed in this man he had gotten to know and he appreciated it when Joe told him to take that time off as well. What he didn't know was that Joe had many other changes on his mind and his urgency would now be devoted to those things of God, not for himself alone.
This story is one that truly ends with everyone happy ever after. For Joe became a leader of helping others in need, he and his wife drew closer than they ever had been and he stayed close with Tommy and they frequently got together. Joe became active in a small church that needed help, prayed every day and gave of himself instead of just being a taker. God has a way of doing things like this, if only we open ourselves to His love and grace. And as Joe found out, it answered his questions and gave him peace.
What about you? Do you need to make some changes? Ask the Answer Man routinely and you'll find out. God bless you all.