Nearly 10 years ago, I made a decision that changed the course of my life in ways I could have never imagined. I was a senior in high school, dating a girl that lived about an hour away from me. She wasn’t like anyone that I had ever met before. She was different; genuine and had a humble spirit. If you have ever fallen in love before, then you know how I felt. I ached to spend every moment I could with her. As soon as I left work or school I would call her. She filled my thoughts. I felt like I never had enough time to spend with her. Several times a year my family went on vacation and I would agonize the entire time, counting the days until I returned home. Her parents only allowed her to hang out with me once a week. They never disliked me, but I believe they wanted to act wisely in order to limit how invested we became in each other. However, they never restricted her church youth group activities. So, in an effort to see her as often as possible, I decided to visit her on Sunday nights at church.
My family raised me in a Christian home, but as far as I was concerned God was too similar to Santa Claus to be real. He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, you better be good or you won’t get any presents! I would have labeled myself as an agnostic. “Sure God could exist, but he doesn’t care about people. Look at all of the suffering in the world. What kind of god would allow that?”
As time went on, I grew closer to her family and developed a special bond with her grandparents. Their genuine belief and trust in Jesus influenced me more than anything else. They really believed that he was Lord, and lived their lives accordingly.
One Sunday, as church came to a close her grandfather was up front speaking. He quickly stepped down off the stage, and he and his wife left. The gentleman that followed him said that we needed to pray for him because he may have had a heart attack. I broke down in tears. I was closer to him than I was to my own grandfather. I began to pray to a God that I wasn’t sure even existed, “Please, don’t take him… If you let him live, I’ll take advantage of the time that you give him. I’ll study with him and read my Bible.” Fighting back tears, we hurried to the hospital. We patiently waited for an update and finally a family member emerged to deliver the news. I held my breath as she calmly told us that he had just experienced a bit of heartburn. Even though he had never been in any danger, I decided to hold up my end of the bargain because “my grandpa” was still alive.
The first story we read together was Adam and Eve. I saw this God that just effortlessly spoke and life leapt into existence. He seemed to be concerned and involved in every aspect of his creation. He gave Adam everything a man could want in life: a beautiful wife that brought joy to his life, a career that gave him purpose and meaning, a home that he called paradise. If that wasn’t enough, the God that made all of this a reality literally walked with them and spent time with them every day. You don’t have to read very far to see why the world is the way it is today. When they rebelled, the world they knew broke. When they walked with God, life was full of joy and peace. It all made sense. When they tried to make themselves wiser than God, life fell apart.
That was the story of my life. If I was honest with myself, when God let me do what I thought was best I only brought pain, turmoil and uncertainty to my life. The day I said “no longer my will but yours,” I began to experience the life that Jesus came to give. Looking back now, I can see how God was working. He brought this relationship into my life specifically so that I could know Him. Things didn’t work out with this girl. Over time, I realized that she wasn’t the one that God intended me to marry, but she and her family played a very important role which has affected every aspect of my life since then.
Life hasn’t been easy, but God has always been faithful and he’s never let me down.