Hope for the Hopeless

Here’s a story. When my grandfather was sixteen he found himself hungry, in trouble and homeless in his own hometown. There was an army recruiting bus coming through, and without saying goodbye to anyone, he lied about his age and jumped on it. He liked the army. He grew four inches taller because they fed him. But soon he became scared of soldiering. He became homesick and lonely. For the first time in his life he broke out in eczema all over his body. They moved him to a hospital and covered him with tar. When he recovered he realized he was not too far from home. So he ran.

They found him in his mother’s house in Georgetown, Kentucky. He was brought before the commanding officer. In a surprising turn of grace this man asked my grandfather to be his personal driver, an epic promotion from the brig where he was heading, and from normal soldiering. This would have been a perfect opportunity for my grandfather to say, thank you, sir, but I don’t know how to drive.

But learning comes slowly, change even slower and truth makes itself known faster than usual when you’re dealing with a stick-shift. Without a word of reproof, the officer just patiently taught the boy to drive, as if he was his own grandfather without much to do, going no where in particular. 

Sixty years later, as my grandfather taught me to drive, he must’ve told me this story a hundred times. We all have stories like this, when life could’ve gone either way, when you look back to see how good came upon you like a big sneeze, and you were sort of ridiculous but obviously watched over, and precious. It is like waking up in the morning to find you left the front door standing wide open. We love this kind of story because it is a moment of clarity, a prelude to the day we’ll look back and see, not how much we earned, all our shining moments, but how He made good of our mistakes and gave us a future we did not deserve. He is able to do this, being Almighty God, and willing also, being a faithful Father. 

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