Experiencing God When You Get a Raw Deal
- Friday, October 26, 2007
When I was 21 years old, after months of struggle between head and heart, between will and emotions, I chose to allow Christ to be Lord of my life. That decision meant breaking off a relationship with a girl whom I loved very deeply and had assumed would one day be my wife. We had dated for over two years. We were both believers, we both loved God, and we both loved each other more than anything or anyone we had ever known. But the dream in her heart for our future was to live across the street from her mom and dad. As an only child, she was very close to her parents and felt a deep responsibility to them as they approached their twilight years.
She was everything I ever dreamed a wife would be, but I knew deep in my heart that God wanted me to be willing to go wherever He called me, whenever He called. As much as I loved her, I knew she was not part of God's will for my life. At that point in my journey with Christ, breaking up with her was the greatest sacrifice and the most excruciatingly painful decision He had asked me to make.
I knew in my mind that saying good-bye to her was right. But in my heart, I was a basket case for the rest of the year. I remember crying out to God to change her heart. I didn't date anyone else. I didn't want to. I secretly prayed and fasted and hoped God was simply testing my loyalty - that just as Abraham received Isaac back after being willing to let him go, God would one day give her back to me. I was sure God would reward my faith and faithfulness.
Instead, God did the unthinkable.
I played basketball in college. One particular night, after another loss, I was emotionally down, physically fatigued, and spiritually frustrated. As I made my way up the stairs from our locker room to the exit, I looked up to see something I hadn't seen in months. There at the top of the stairs was "my girl." She was standing in our spot next to the railing, leaning against the glass by the exit.
My heart started racing. I couldn't believe it. I thought God had answered my prayer and I started planning how we'd get a bite to eat and talk about the future just like old times. But as I got closer and my eyes met hers, I knew something was different. There was no warm smile, no step toward me, no arm around my waist. Only an uncomfortable, "Hi, Chip."
Suddenly, I realized she wasn't there waiting for me. She was waiting for someone else. Before I could fully grasp what was happening, another player on the team bounded up the stairs and grabbed her hand. I watched in stony silence as she put her arm in his and they walked off across the campus into the night.
I could not believe my eyes. I felt rage, betrayal, and complete disillusionment welling up from the depths of my soul. I asked God, "How could You let this happen to me after the great sacrifice I made for You? And how could You let her get hooked up with him?" I knew this player's intentions with girls. I had heard all about his former conquests. I knew how he mocked my faith in God.
As I walked across campus, I was rethinking whether this God I had come to know was worth following. I was questioning if I wanted to continue in a relationship with a God who rewarded great sacrifice and commitment with such injustice and pain. I was questioning the character and trustworthiness of God. I remember mumbling certain phrases to myself as I made that lonely walk to my dorm room. "I feel like an animal. I am so angry. Why do the people who don't walk with God get all the good stuff? And why, instead of getting what's good, do I get what's lousy? Why is life so unfair? Why, God, did You let this happen?"
I didn't grow up reading the Bible. I opened it for the first time when I was 18. As a new Christian at the age of 21, I had begun reading it regularly and trying to learn to hear God's voice through the pages. But I was totally unprepared for what I was about to experience.
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