Yesterday, I witnessed something quite ordinary yet quite remarkable.
A father and son were playing a board game. The young son was starting to lose as he didn’t really have much of a handle on the inner workings of the game. However, the father, seeing his kid getting frustrated, started dropping small hints on how to proceed. The father kept staving off his own victory to guide his son, though the son wanted to do things his own way. Eventually, the kid won with his dad having only one move left to win himself. The father had guided his son to victory even though he lost himself.
This father had been known through his life to be very competitive yet when it came to his son, he chose to lose instead, even in the sight of all of those around.
As I watched this unfold, I thought of how great a representation this is of God. He chose to suffer defeat at our hands, his own children, so that we could be victorious over sin. Jesus took all the steps to win victory for himself, yet, he chose to lose his life so he could defeat sin and give us that victory. He also continues to guide us to ultimate victory over death even though we may get frustrated when we continually fail by doing things our way instead.
God loves us. He already knows the glorious outcome to our lives and he is working, even in our mishaps, to bring about his ultimate plan of redemption and eternal life.
This is a part of my life that I haven’t discussed in detail with many people. Everything happened over ~a three year period starting around 9 years ago. Over the course of the years, I had so much bitterness wrapped in the memories surrounding this time that I didn’t want to talk much about it even though there were also some good memories. I don’t want to include all of the specific details as to protect the person that I talk about here.
So, it started when my desire to know God began to grow. I had the notion in my head, like many have seemed to have at one point, that there was something major I had to perform physically to prove my desire to know God. I would pray at night asking God what I should do to prove myself to him. At that time, I still didn’t realize some significant things that would have made getting to know him much easier, and I was still stubborn at this point.
Around this time, I began talking to a girl who lived relatively close to me but far enough away that I couldn’t see her often. We played video games online together with several other people and mostly talked through voice chat. She seemed to want to develop a relationship with me. For several months we talked and got to know each other. She had several traumatic events that had gone on in her life which left her mostly isolated from her friends and family.
One day, she disappeared from the online community. I felt like God wanted me to find out what happened to her. She had left me some clues as to where she went and so I looked her up. I got into contact with her again and she seemed very relieved that I had found her. She was dealing with some issues again and seemed to have felt it was an all or nothing proposition to withdraw from everyone.
We continued to talk online for several months. She kept asking me to come to where she was and spend some time with her. I was hesitant, but eventually committed to go see her. Before I got the chance though, some personal things came up again in her life and she had to move much further away. At this time, I kinda figured it wasn’t meant to be. However, we continued to talk online and she continued to ask me to come see her. Again, one day she disappeared and I lost all contact with her. I never saw her online and her cell phone was disconnected. I worried about her some but figured maybe she just didn’t want to talk with me anymore.
After about six weeks, God led me to attempt to contact her one last time. I was a bit frustrated with the whole situation at this point but decided to do it anyway. I called where she use to work and left a message for her. She called me a few days later from a borrowed cell phone. She had gotten badly injured and lost her income. Her landlady at the time let her rent slip for a couple of months so she at least had a place to stay and brought her food and such. Her cell phone had been disconnected because she was unable to work to pay the bill. When I got back in contact with her, she pleaded with me to come see her and stay for a week or so. Reluctantly, I gathered my things and made the 16 hour trip.
In truth, I was hoping that maybe a relationship would ensue. We talked about it and she asked for some time to try to get her life together. The plan to stay a week turned into 6 months as I tried to help her get caught up on bills and such as best I could. I worked a job there many times 60+ hours a week and still was accruing debt just trying to provide the basics. After about 1.5 years, she still didn’t seem to want a relationship with me and she started seeing other guys. I got fairly depressed for a few days and decided I was going to make the 16 hour return trip to go back to my hometown. I let her know and turned in my two week notice. She seemed okay with it but I could tell that she was worried again of how she was going to make ends meet. As heartbroken as I was at the time, God kept hinting that I should stay a little longer. The relationships she seemed to attempt didn’t end up working out and again she was alone. I begrudgingly decided to stay.
Several months passed and she was able to get around like normal again after her injury. We talked again about a relationship, but she didn’t seem to want one with me. She stated that she was too messed up for me and seemed a bit guilt ridden that she had been using me for those past 2 years. I assured her it was okay though I had constantly questioned God of why he had let me get into this situation and why he kept wanting me to stay with someone who didn’t seem to want me. For the most part, God seemed to have remained silent during these years. I was admittedly frustrated and depressed within about the situation.
The job she had wasn’t quite panning out like she had hoped. Mine was about the same. She decided she wanted to move somewhere else in the U.S. and wanted me to come with her. I thought and prayed about it for a while trying to see what God wanted now. He seemed to express that I had done enough and led me to return to my hometown and even directed me to use my GI Bill to pursue an IT degree. She seemed a little disappointed, but understood. I was still angry internally because all the time I had been there seemed wasted. During those two years, my grandmother was sick and eventually passed away. I was only able to leave for a few days to attend her funeral before the bills piled up again.
I helped her pack a U-haul and we chatted a bit as it seemed to be one of the last times we might see each other. I had one final shift I had to work before I left the following day. I was still asking God the entire time before her departure, “Why?”
Why did you have me leave my family God?
Why did you have me come here when it never amounted to anything?
Why did she not like me? Was I not good enough?
Why did you let my grandmother die while leading me far away?
I was angry.
As we said our final goodbyes, she thanked me for all I had done for her. This hardly felt like much of a consolation prize but I begrudgingly accepted. Then she slowly and hesitantly expressed with pain in her voice that I was the only one who pursued her when she continually tried to run away from life. When she got injured and we had lost contact for several weeks, she had decided she was going to kill herself as she just couldn’t seem to ever get her life under control. When I reached out for her again through her work, she had the faintest glimpse of hope that, for the first time in her life, someone actually cared enough about her to keep pursuing when she ran away. She then hugged me and drove away.
As I stood there a bit stunned, God simply said, in response to all the questions, anger, and frustration I had shown him, “That’s why.” I’m amazed that as obstinate as I was, he still did his will through me and allowed me to be a part of his greater plan. I’ve come not to regret any of that time now and have even come to cherish how God has led me. His astounding grace reached out to me and her in that situation.
I kept contact with that girl for about 3 months and she seemed to be doing well. We drifted apart though I occasionally hear of things that are going on in her life. From what I’ve heard, she got a good job that she enjoys and is engaged. I don’t know what her relationship with God is, but, especially based on how he has led me, I believe a seed was planted. Seeing his plan unfold helps me to better understand how his love always wins in the end.