The multistory building we were working on had three months’ construction still left when the news broke. The president of Romania was coming to visit our city—in two months. I was in charge of the hundreds of windows. The engineer responsible for the whole project asked my team to work seven days a week, saying that even if we worked day and night, we could not finish it in time. In a public meeting he declared that, from now on, I would have to come to work every day of the week, even on my day of rest. I refused. I dug in my heels; so did he.
The engineer got so angry that he issued a threat: he would cut my salary and discipline me if I didn’t finish within one month. I determined that my team would attempt to meet the challenge—by working just five days a week! I prayed continually and, working together, my team and I finished three months’ work in three weeks. To God be the glory.
The amount of work done equaled that of more than three months. So, my salary for those three weeks was to be greater than the average salary for three months. When I went to pick up the check, it was 10 percent of what it should have been—no explanation. I enquired about it and the engineer intimated that I was docked pay for taking a day of rest. I tried to argue for a fair wage—the number of windows multiplied by the cost per window—I got nowhere. I asked for an audience with the CEO, the highest person in charge of construction in the county. A meeting was scheduled for later that week, but the 8:00 a.m. appointment came with a warning: “If you are even a minute late, you will get no money.”
Long before that incident, I had stopped setting my alarm clock for prayer and studying the Word, claiming the promise, “ ‘He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned’ ” (Isa. 50:4)*. However, the night before the appointment, my cousin and I talked until after midnight, and I did not wake up until 7:50 a.m. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe God had let me down like this. I got up, dressed hastily, and said a quick prayer.
My father, seeing me about to run out the door, asked, “Shouldn’t God come first?” His four words that fol-lowed forever imprinted themselves on my mind: “God and His Word.” At that moment, I chose to give up on the money and spend more than two hours in prayer and Bible study. It didn’t make sense, but after my worship I decided to still go to the appointment. What followed was incredible.
I approached the secretary. She looked at her watch and said, “You cannot see the CEO now—but not for the reason you think. A government official arrived unexpectedly last night, and the CEO has been locked in dialogue with him. Even if you had made it at 8:00 a.m., it would have been impossible for you to see him.” As I was about to leave the waiting area, the CEO came through the door. Noticing me, he hurriedly promised to research the salary situation, apologizing profusely that I had been made to wait so long. A week later I got a very nice check. It said, “Paid in full.”
Jesus’ high priestly prayer included this amazing declaration: “ ‘I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do’ ” (John 17:4). Quality time for prayer and Bible study was important for me in finishing a building. As I finish the work God has now given me, should my time spent in prayer with Him and Bible study about Him be any less important?
Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours [of the day] in prayer.” God and His Word ought to be a platform upon which pastors declare like Luther, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”
Hold on, pastor, because Matthew 6:33 is still true: “ ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.’” Begin the year right, and one day we will hear, “‘“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”’” (Matt. 25:23). Or—in other words—“Paid in full.”
* All Scripture in this article is quoted from the New King James Version.