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mapmtkenya“21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left. “ Isaiah 30:21 (NKJV)

In the previous installment of the story, Mike had just had an unsuccessful attempt at climbing Mt Kenya. The story continues…

It had been 4 months since Mike had an attempt to climb Mt Kenya. He had come back to the usual routine at the office and days had simply dragged by. He had tried two times to get permission from the office so he could have more time for the hike and hadn’t been successful. There is something however that seemed different since that weekend outing. He had become more preoccupied with thoughts of being able to do what he wanted per time without having to ask permission from the office. It had somehow shifted from thinking of climbing the mountain to thoughts of how life would be without the restriction of having to be in the office 8-5. Monday to Friday. He had not reconciled how the demands of a full-time job could dictate his having to turn back when he had been so close to getting to the peak – so close yet so far.

In this particular day, he’d just come from his lunch break and he was staring blankly at a letter he’d retrieved from his desk drawer, the second time today. The feeling of departing from the office had been so intense these last couple of months he’d toyed with the idea of resigning from his job. He had drafted a resignation letter, but without the courage to submit it he’d kept it in his drawer.

Absorbed in his thoughts this particular afternoon, he’d found himself with this discontent and unsettled feeling. His thoughts went back to two years before when a similar feeling had led him to resign from his work, but better judgment had prevailed and he had changed his mind. At that time, he had been very committed serving in the church where he was a member and all his decisions were guided by how they fitted in the church group. Apparently, he was to resign his job to work at the church business project, a position he was persuaded would really make God happy with him as it was less secular. The project didn’t eventually take off and he found himself settling back at his job.

It is as he reflected on these that he realized that his current discontent had less to do with the job, but more with what was happening within him. One year after his last attempt to leave employment, he had sensed it was time to move on from the church he was a member of which he amply communicated with the pastor, who would normally confirm or not whether one was hearing the true leading of God. In his case, the pastor was not persuaded, but Mike kept feeling the same. After a bit of back and forth, the pastor had eventually released him, half heartedly with warnings that anything could happen as he’d left ‘covering’. After being released from service, he thought he’d be just attending church services, but again the environment became a little hostile for his family. He had left the church and moved to a new one in the same city, Nairobi.

Somehow his experience in the previous church group had awakened his sensitivities and it did not take him long to notice the same problems he’d experienced before rearing their ugly faces in this one as well. He found himself on his way again to some ‘greener pastures’ and that is how he landed on yet another church group. When the same dynamics started playing themselves out the third time, he’d decided that perhaps the greener grass will find him instead of him finding it. He figured that perhaps authentic Christian living could be found beyond the confines of organized religion. He from that time started questioning things he’d previously taken as a given.

After surviving one year without any denominational affiliation, and with a stronger faith in God , he had started growing confident that life is actually possible outside defined systems and structures. The spirit of adventure, previously hidden to him had started becoming prominent inside of him and he’d started thinking that perhaps it is possible to live free of the dictates of established economic systems, in this particular case, his 8 – 5 job. The question of how he’d survive without a job however still hung over his head and thus the hesitation to submit the letter. It was as he did this that he noticed his close friend, Tom come towards his office through the open door.

Since he didn’t want Tom to see the letter, Mike dashed to quickly put it back in the desk drawer, but it was too late, “What are you hiding?”, Tom asked. “Oh, this?” Mike retorted waving the letter, “just, uuumh, we’ll you can have a look”, He stammered handing over the letter to Tom as he pulled an empty seat nearby to sit next to his friend. Tom read through the letter quietly as Mike observed his facial expression. Tom had a characteristic calm that was difficult to decipher, “Are you serious?” He asked Mike pushing his seat a little closer indicating the serious need to talk. “Mhhh, yeah, yes I am.” Mike said trying to muster all the display of confidence he could, even though Tom knew his friend too well to be deceived. It was obvious to Tom that his friend was scared of what he was about to do. Earlier in the year Mike had mentioned to him that he thought his time in the company was coming to an end, but Tom had not thought of it as serious.

“Has this anything to do with the hiking trip to Mt Kenya the other day? You’ve pretty changed since .” Tom inquired. “Partly, but not entirely, I think it’s been building up for a while, and I feel the time to put my thoughts into action has come.” Mike replied with some more confidence in his tone.

“And what are your plans for provision if I may ask? Remember you have a young family.” Asked Tom. “I am not very sure about that, but I think something will work out. I sometimes feel like the best way to know how to swim is to jump into the pool, deep end specifically. You may not know how to swim, but once in the pool, you’ve no option but to at least learn to float, otherwise you sink and die. “ Answered Mike . ”Don’t you think that you could also start in shallow end where you can at least stand on your feet every so often as you learn the ropes?”, Tom added. “Well, I think that is one way, but then also the very knowledge that you can stand on your feet can be the very hindrance to learning. Anyway, you need not worry, I have a plan which I think will work, some sort of blueprint, you know, road map.” Mark explained with a defensive tone. “You know what, Mike? I think you should follow your heart. It really does not matter what I think as long as your heart is persuaded. Just remember that whatever you decide, I am your brother and I will always want the best for you” Tom concluded their conversation with a part on Mikes back as he left to his own office.

As soon as Tom left Mike’s office, Mike picked his phone to call his boss, David’s number. He had been trying to gather courage to talk to him about resigning from work for a while now without actually getting there. Today, after their conversation with Tom, he felt ready to go talk to David. The phone rang for a couple of seconds without an answer before Mike decided to walk up to David’s office in person.

As he went up the flight of stairs to the 20th floor, he started rehearsing silently what he’d tell the boss. He thought of , “I’ve been praying and God has told me that it’s time for me to move on to something else”, but then his boss was not exactly religious and that would sound strange. “What if he asks me what I am going to do after I leave?” ”Maybe I should discuss with him my business plan – he’s been quite fond of me and quite sharp in matters business.”. Mike turned around in his mind the conversation he anticipated with his boss until he got to the door, paused a little straightening up his tie and jacket.

He knocked the door and the secretary asked him to David’s office had two partitions, the reception where the secretary cum Personal assistant sat and received people, and then of course his office itself. The secretary looked up and asked, “what can I do for you Mike?”. “Can I ummh see him?” Mike asked pointing to the boss’s office. “He’s not in till Monday, but is it something I could assist?” Rose replied. “Oh, it’s ok Rose, it can wait”. ”All right, in that case I think till Monday. Should I call you when he’s around?” she added. “Yeah, yeah, I think that is fine, just give me a shout when he’s around and he has some time.” Mike said turning back out the door.

It was uncharacteristic of Mike to leave like that and it left Rose curious what it was about. Other times, Mike would come to this office, he’d engage Rose in some general talk before getting into the heart of the matter, but today it had been strictly business in a matter of fact way.

On the other hand, as Mike walked down the stairs, he was surprised at himself as he realized that he’d felt some relief instead of disappointment when he found David not in. He figured that he now had the whole weekend to think through how to communicate the news to his boss on Monday. He’d also spend the weekend going through the business plan so that he’d have the answers at the finger tips when the issue of what he planned to do came up. Having been close to David and he fond of him, he had not wanted to seem confused or not sure of what he was planning. In his mind he even came up with a name for the blueprint he was developing, “roadmap to freedom”. With his many years of corporate experience he figured he’d project with relatively good accuracy the progression of his planned income stream. He’d have a goal plan for the next five years after which the business would have grown enough to pave a path for itself.

By the time Mike reached his office, he was full of plans for the weekend. Being a Friday, a day which they’d leave the office a little earlier than normal, the afternoon had gone very fast. There were thirty minutes remaining to the end of working hours.

Having finished his work for the day earlier in the morning, Mike spent the remainder of the time reading some favorite blogs on the internet. Somehow the blog posts had been quite some source of encouragement since he’d stopped attending church regularly. He had found a couple of people online who according to his evaluation had walked the path he was walking ahead of him which made him feel less alone.

He had found solace in realizing that what he was experiencing was not as strange as he had initially thought, but others were experiencing or had experienced the discontent with status qua at various places and times. He got so engrossed in the reading he didn’t realize that time had passed so much it was starting to get dark outside. Today he had been reading some material on how God leads believers more through an inner witness and less through elaborate blueprints, a topic which was closely related to his “ road-map to freedom” project.

Since there was much more material to read than there was time, he decided to print the documents and go finish reading at home. It was obvious that the question of “Map or guide?” still lingered and was the same thought that Mike had as he left his office that evening.

The quest for an answer continues in Part IV.