Photo by Erin E. Photography
God likes to do a little revision.
This new jolt of confusion, however, was a long-laid plan. It was one that had begun years earlier, while working in garbage-dump living conditions in Peru. He’d fallen in love with those people. And, at that moment, he’d known his life was meant for people of Hispanic descent. To that end, as a young man, he’d pursued degrees in Spanish and international politics. To that end he’d begun teaching ESL. To that end he’d lived his life. It was the right career. It was the right path.
Everyone said this new change would be the worst mistake of his life. But that day, sitting across from a poster of himself as a debt-free college student who had planned to enter missions, he signed papers to pull out of his education. Re-education began—not an erasing of anything but the mysterious pulling of form out of void.
A few weeks earlier, prayer had led to this moment. A touch of intention. A moment of admitted fear. Tension began to grow. It was a decision that more than one person thought was foolish. At the beginning, even he’d thought it’d just been the regular fatigue of college hitting him with thoughts of escape. Quit school?
Who quits school when they have good grades and no debt? But that was the raging message beating in his heart. He didn’t really want to do it. He didn’t. It wasn’t him. He was scholastic; he was cut out for school. He was going to serve God with his degrees. He was. So, they wrestled. They wrestled to see if this unheard of and impractical change really was from God.
To him, though, God was Friend. There was close trust there. But this was asking him to do something not only unconventional, but something seemingly unwise. The words, however, kept coming: “Listen, I have some really cool things for you, and you can have them if you want, but you’re going to have to obey me.”
Suddenly, it felt like a big, enjoyable surprise was waiting for him—like he was already holding it in his hands. He just didn’t know what it was yet. So, there he sat, expelling himself from college, from dreams, from future. Wide-eyed secretaries and advisors stared him down in an office meant to offer education—and there he sat, denying it all. And there God sat, right with him, condoning it all. Staring back at stunned office workers was the God of Future. Dwelling in unknown, the Knower began to rise.
And hope began to grow like a child—full of the not yet, but already present.
The next day, however, was frightening. Had this young man just given up the rest of his life for an unknown vision? Had he given in instead of giving up? And which one of those was really right? Known path was instantly traded for something intangible. Was it really God he’d trusted?
He realized he’d been sharing his identity with the world’s view for a long time and giving that up made him feel about as tall as a mouse. Now, instead of “successful, debt-free student,” his label was “college dropout.” And it was for no tangible reason—only a prayer: conversation that gave direction from a persevering Friend.
And God was with. God was Best Friend. In that, there was calm trust and excited anticipation.
He asked God for a small sign. His heart wanted to know again the faithfulness, to know the Carrying Power. He wanted to know he’d obeyed. On that day, however, there was a void of Presence. On that day, there was no sign. On that day, there was vast hope, but hope was not made real.
“Oh, my goodness, I am not prepared for this!” was his first thought on the following evening. And then, seconds later, he remembered the words of the Lord for him, “I have amazing things for you.”
That night, instead of just a few teens arriving for the youth group he led, over 25 Hispanic youth arrived. Kids whose first language was Spanish. Kids who had absent fathers, not enough food, no sense of safety—they lived with a heartbreaking understanding that they were an afterthought to family and society. Kids who, without having broken any law themselves, were dragged into becoming the product of their parent’s huge and uncaring choices.
He had no degree, yet every class and every experience from Peru to that moment had been in preparation for this. But it hadn’t been him. Of course not. He hadn’t planned this. It was God’s bend in the road, carefully prepared years ago—in fact, eons ago.
Along with attending school and working full-time, he’d never have been able to love those teens the unconditional way they needed. So, quitting school paved the way for this God-given and miraculous ministry. God hadn’t stopped carrying him. God’s friendship had prepared him.
The story, even now, continues to become. Hearts are given to Jesus, baptisms take place, teens choose to drastically change their life’s trajectories. Just a few weeks ago, a youth walked 25 miles in the rain to come to a safe place. And in between the lives of youth and leaders, another Friend lives.
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.