I began digging into Psalm 119 more than five years ago. At the time, I didn’t really know why. As I’ve shared in another post, I read a book, I think it was J.I. Packer’s Knowing God, that mentioned William Wilburforce’s journal entry in 1819 about walking from Hyde Park quoting Psalm 119 with great comfort. That tiny spark of inspiration launched my Psalm 119 Experience.
A Surprising Contact
Since I didn’t tell anyone about what I was doing for a long time, I thought occasionally that this devotional project was odd, sort of like Forrest Gump deciding to start running back and forth across the country. Yet I persisted, sensing God’s quiet leadership.
After leaving LifeWay, I shared with family and friends that I did not envision ever going back into Christian publishing. Plus, I was thrilled with the opportunity to launch and grow The Riverstone Group, a consulting company, with my long-time friend, David Atchison.
When the executive recruiter contacted me, my initial thought was to recommend some great people I know. But then, as I learned more about the job, understood that it involved leading the Bible Group, and thought about the legacy of Bible publishing represented by both Zondervan and Thomas Nelson, I paused.
Connecting Spiritual Markers
In that moment, the Psalm 119 Experience project came to mind and I wondered if these spiritual markers (as Henry Blackaby calls them in Experiencing God) were connected. So after talking with my wife, Lynn Marie, and my business partner, David Atchison, I felt I should submit my resume.
As I did, I assumed nothing would happen.
Because of my work in corporate life, I know how executive recruiting works and the need for recruiters to present a number of qualified candidates to the company paying for the search. I figured the search firm might include my resume because of my professional background, but did not expect anything else to happen. To my surprise, it did. One step led to another until everything came together. The company offered me the job; I accepted with enthusiasm.
The question I struggle to answer now about all of this is, “Why?”
The Fact-Based Answer
HarperCollins Christian Publishing is a great company. The CEO, Mark Schoenwald, impressed me more and more with each meeting, phone call, and email. Since I turn 60 this month, having the opportunity to step into executive leadership position is a rare treat. Plus, I appreciate all that comes with a corporate position in compensation and benefits.
The Faith-Based Answer
But none of those things answered the broader questions, “Why this job? Why me? Why now?”
So here’s my answer — God’s preparation, timing, and calling.
Through spending the last years immersed in Psalm 119 and using that as a springboard to expand my time in God’s Word, I know that God has been getting me ready for this new assignment. I’m absolutely at peace that this is what I am supposed to do.
Some have asked, “How long do you plan to do this work?” To which I answer, “As long as God gives me the opportunity to serve Him in this way.”
After spending the first part of my professional life in two churches and the second part in corporate life, I’ve gained perspective that I did not have when I was much younger.
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. James 4:13-17 (NIV)
I read these truths long ago but now I understand them more fully. It’s clear I wasted years of my life planning for and worrying about things that never happened. That’s not the way I want to live now.
Following God With Hands and Heart Open
What I know about this new position is that God has led me to it and He will leave me in it based on His timeline for this ministry and His plans for my life. Beyond that, it’s silly for me to speculate. Instead, I want to serve faithfully and serve with faith that God will do His good work through me and those I have the privilege of leading.
Focusing on God’s Word directs our attention to God. As John R.W. Stott said, “God speaks through what God has spoken.” Since that is true, no work could be more important or more rewarding than helping people hear God through the Bible.
That’s my goal through The Psalm 119 Experience and my new assignment with HarperCollins Christian Publishing.