Sep 11, 2009

When life falls apart

I met a young man a few weeks ago, we'll call him "Billy". He was travelling with a friend. They were having a great time. They experimented with drugs, partied, and just kicked back on a daily basis. When asked if everything was good, the answer was a resounding "Yes!"

About two weeks later, I found Billy totally broken down. "My life has fallen apart," he told me. "I don't know what I'm going to do." He held back tears of despair to tell me even this much. I just sat with him a while, and then I explored with Billy what had caused this startling change in demeanor.

"I ran into a friend yesterday who I knew from high school. It was awesome. I totally wasn't expecting to see him, but there he was. It was so good to see him."

Billy's life was so taken apart by what happened next that he was spun into a deep depression and had to examine his life for several days to decide what to do next.

"My friend has a girlfriend now. He has gotten clean and sober. They both have. He has become a Christian. He has a house and a job. I don't want any of those things, but I do. I had no idea that I wanted those things so badly, but I do."

Billy couldn't keep talking after confessing these truths that he had discovered about himself. His world had simply imploded upon him. He was so confused and felt so alone. I sat with him while he pondered. I offered to pray for him, an he accepted that offer. We prayed for thanks that he was safe for the moment. We prayed for guidance on what do to next. We prayed for the love of the Father to wash over him and show him how to go on. Finally, I asked if I could give Billy a hug. He accepted. What an unusual sight that must have been in the dirty, smelly alleyway in downtown Austin... a dirty young kid squeezing the living daylights out of an middle aged man in shorts and T-shirt!

Billy's friend couldn't meet him that night, but his wife could. So Billy made a trip down to see his friend's wife on the bus. She was encouraging, and Billy left with a lightened heart... just a bit. On the return trip, as I imagine that Billy began to sink back into despair, visibly disappearing into his seat, God arranged a meeting. Billy got off the bus and ran right into his friend! Right there in the middle of the street, they connected for a second time. His friend took Billy to a sobriety meeting with him that very night!

God so loves Billy that he arranged these two accidental meetings to totally wreck Billy's life. But God also gave Billy keys and support to put it back together again. Billy is going to worship with his friend and his wife. Billy is going to sobriety meetings. Billy has gotten a job. With God's help, Billy is putting his life back together on a firmer foundation.

What a privilege to know people like Billy. What courage he has to recognize that he was chasing things that didn't matter and that he had turned away from things that he desperately wanted. And what a privilege to see how God expresses his love... how God goes out to seek the one lost sheep, leaving behind the 99.

What part of your life needs to fall apart in order to be built on a firmer foundation? How is God seeking you, all alone and apart from the rest of the flock? Know this: He loves YOU. He will not abandon YOU. He will give YOU the strength and the keys to rebuild your life if you will turn around... turn around and face your loving God.