The summer of 1969 was quite challenging for my family and me. I had come to the understanding that the Sabbath was the day of worship, designated by God, and that it was to be kept. What I didn’t understand then, was the fact that I was not to work on that day. I had a good government job at the time and was lined up for a promotion, but God had other things in mind.
Because of shift work, my job conflicted with the keeping of the Sabbath. I still recall exactly when I came to this understanding–I was at work and faced my dilemma. I was scheduled to work on that weekend. I proclaimed to God my desire to obey Him, and asked if He would provide a way out of this situation. No more than ten seconds after I decided that I could not and would not work that Saturday, my supervisor came to me and asked me if I would work a double shift since one of the men scheduled to work that afternoon had called in sick. I immediately said I would do so, if he would give me Saturday off, which he agreed to do.
However, I had to quit my job shortly afterwards, because of Sabbath conflicts, and I really did not have any prospects for another comparable job. I was married, and we had three children. I had previously worked for a plywood mill, so I applied there, and they hired me right away, the same day. Everything was fine until the third week when I was put on afternoon shift. That Friday, about an hour before sunset, I told my foreman I could not work beyond a certain time, for religious reasons, and he allowed me to go home. The next day I got a phone call from the personnel department stating that I was only a few days away from accruing union seniority and thus union protection, but since I wasn’t prepared to work Friday evenings, I was summarily dismissed.
No work again! I applied for a job at another plywood mill, but after explaining that I could not work from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, I got “the look”–the one where they figure “you have two heads.” The manager said he would contact me, but he never did.
It was August by now, and I was able to get a job with the teamsters union, unloading boxcars. This was heavy labor and intense work, but I did my best. In the meantime I heard about a Provincial Gas Company that was hiring, so one day, after helping my father working at his house, I got the urge to apply for a job there, which I did. I was hired by this company and was to start on September 15.
I still remember the look of disappointment on the foreman’s face at the teamsters union job when I told him I had another job to go to. I also remember the funny look I got when I stated during my final interview for this new position that I needed some time off at the end of September to go to my first Feast of Tabernacles. My fellow co-workers could not understand how I could work for two weeks, and then get nine days off for the Feast. I told them it was pre-arranged, and that I wasn’t getting paid for the time off.
By then, I thought my Sabbath trials were over. I had quit a job, had been fired from a job, and I was not hired because I wanted to obey and keep God’s Sabbath. But now, I had an 8:00 am to 4:30 pm job, for five days a week, and it did not require me to work on the Sabbath.
Well, after about two years on the job, we were suddenly asked to work on the Sabbath, due to the increased workload. I told my supervisor that I could not work for religious reasons. The superintendent became involved and told me that I had no choice but to work on the Sabbath. In return, I explained to him that in that case, I had no choice but to resign my position. He then changed his mind because he felt that I was a valuable employee, and the company created a job for me which did not conflict with the Sabbath. I subsequently worked for that company for some thirty-seven years and ten months. I recently retired, in August of this year.
That is not the end of the story, however. Revelation 13:16-17 describes a future time when a European “beast power” will influence the people of the whole world to accept a certain mark to be able to buy or sell. That mark of the beast is enforced Sunday worship and enforced work and labor on the Sabbath. This will be the final Sabbath Test for all Sabbath keepers alive at that time, who will not be protected in the place of safety (compare Revelation 12:13-17).
We sincerely hope that anyone facing this test will pass it, regardless of the consequences. Christ said that we should not worry about what we need to say when brought before magistrates or law enforcement agencies, but that God, through His Holy Spirit, will inspire us to state the right words. In the meantime, we must ensure that we are staying close to God to be able to endure any and all Sabbath tests, which we will face in the future.