He sits before me a 70-year-old man, slight build, with a shock of white hair sticking out from under his ball cap and tears glimmering in his eyes. He says very softly, “I’ve never been able to talk about this without choking up- the day I will never forget that changed my life forever- December 21, 1954- the day my Daddy died.”
He begins to tell me his story, the story of an eleven-year-old boy who was studying at his grandmother’s house. His Dad stopped by before going to work and spent the afternoon helping his son with homework. His father ruffled his hair before leaving and says “goodbye." Little did anyone know, this was his last farewell. You see, his father’s brand new car stalled when crossing the railroad tracks near their home and was violently hit by an on-coming train. The car was catapulted 600 feet down the tracks and caused fatal injuries. Tragically, the boy’s mother was the first on the scene to discover her husband's body.
A widow was born that day and a young boy fatherless.
Heartbreak and struggle plagued them and a mere 10 years later the boy's mother dies from a heart attack- never recovering from her husband's death.
Now the story reveals a young man barely twenty-one years of age left parentless and scarred from the losses that he has suffered. A young man fill with disappointment and anger that colors his attitude and outlook on life.
Who could blame him?
Until the day he comes to a crossroads where he is forced to make a choice that once again changes his life- does he continue to ride this train of disappointment or take hold of a new path?
The crossroads came in the form of an elderly 80 year old man, who happened to be dispatched to fill-in at the used car dealership where this young man worked. The day was slow, business was bad and a storm came up forcing everyone inside. They spent hours talking and finally the elderly man asks, “What is the single worst thing that has ever happened to you?” The man was quick to reply- “The day my daddy died.”
As he shares the story of how his father tragically died the elderly man unexpectantly breaks down and weeps. You see, the elderly man just so happened to be a retired train conductor and this story strikes a deep cord as he reveals the worst day of his life.. the day that he tried valiantly to stop his train before hitting a young father stalled on the railroad tracks. Yes, one in the same!
God brought together the two people in this world that had one thread in common- the same tragedy that marked both of their lives!
Redemption, and healing were given that day and the parentless man decided to forgive and to choose a new path. He chose to believe that God is good ALL the time. God provided him with an opportunity to release his anger and disappointment and revealed to him a new path!
Today that man is richly blessed with a wife that has been by his side for over 40 years, a beautiful family and a long life marked by good fortune.
God filled in the empty places in his life. He can now attest to God’s promise found in Romans 8:28- “And we know that God causes ALL THINGS to work together for good, for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28 is actually my favorite Bible verse because it magnifies that God is not limited by the things of this world. He can take ALL things- the good, the bad, the ugly, the tragic, and the things that don’t make sense and turn them into our benefit. To bless us, make us stronger and oftentimes to make us a vessel of hope and healing to others.
What disappointments and hurts have marked your life- a death, loss of a dream, loss of a job, abuse, abandonment, divorce, or rejection?
Disappointments, hurts, accidents, tragedies are simply a fact of life- we cannot escape them. The question isn’t how to avoid them, but rather how to deal with them.
Do we suffer them, raging at the world around us as we continue to ride on the train of disappointment (a ride that derails us from having a relationship with our creator and makes use bitter) or do we choose a new path that allows us to trust in the living God?
What will you choose? Will you stay in the seat of disappointment or will you select a new path- turing over your hurts to God and trusting that He will meet you right where you are and take ALL things and work them for your good?
Disappointment doesn't have to be the last stop.
I’m praying for a defining moment in our lives. That when faced with disappointments and pain- that we will choose not to ride the train of disappointment but rather we will choose a new perception- a better path. That we will embody a resilient spirit that embraces God’s ability to turn our most tragic hurts and disappointments into blessings and that we will live the life that God intended for each of us- a life that always trusts in Him.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11