I would like to share a story with you. Not a "pretty" story, but a true one nonetheless. This is a story of hopes abandoned and hope restored. It is a story about the day I got my life back.
I had just gone through a marriage failure and a bitter divorce. Shortly thereafter, I had one of those "chance" encounters with someone I had known seventeen years before. This lady had been a member of a choir I had directed and I knew she was a "prayer warrior". I asked her to pray for me and for the situation.
We were sitting in her home a few weeks later and she was asking me questions about the situation to know how and what to pray for me. She asked me a question that brought into painful focus all the despair and hopelessness I had felt during the past months. She asked, "What are you doing about the call of God on your life?
"It is over. I have no hope of ever fulfilling that call again. I have made too many mistakes in my life. I have no hope of ever being back in ministry. It is over."
Even as I said those words, I felt a pain that was so deep, I could not have expressed it.
What she did next was a defining moment in my life. What she did, in a very literal sense, gave me back by life, because for all practical purposes, in my heart and mind, it was over and all hope was lost.
Let me describe the "picture". She was very quiet, soft spoken, poised, graceful, and polite. She was very attractive, with shoulder length black hair and dark brown eyes.
When I said those words above, that I "have no hope of ever fulfilling that call again", the quiet, poised, and polite woman came out of her chair with those dark brown eyes blazing! She was "in my face" before I knew what was happening! I thought she was going to grab me by the throat! She stopped just short of that, but said in the most powerful voice I had ever heard come out of her,
"NO! You are still the same man God called twenty years ago! You are still the same man that had a heart for God then! That is what I see! You are still that same man!"
I cannot write these words now without weeping, because in that moment, I had hope restored. I got my life back. I still couldn't see it, but I knew her, and I knew she wouldn't say anything she didn't mean. I knew she wouldn't have responded the way she did unless it was of God.
In that moment, with all those things racing through my mind, I made a decision that, even though I could not yet see it, I would trust her and see it through her eyes until I could see it for myself. I was still that same man. There was hope again!
Had it not been for a woman that was willing to take time to pray for a hopeless man, and had she not been willing to take a risk and speak her heart to me, this ministry would not exist today. Most likely, I would not exist today either.
Two years later, Rosemarie and I were married. Within three years after that, I was holding her hand as she breathed her last breath.
In a very real way, she restored my life and gave me a pathway to hope. I know that God used her to do that for me. In a real way, I laid down my life for her as I cared for her as she struggled with cancer in the last six months of her life. I know that God used me to do that for her.
I learned that God's calling does not change just because I changed. I learned things in the pain of those times that I could not have learned any other way. Those things are now the most valuable things I possess. They are mine forever.
If you have given up hope in your life, go back to a time when you had hope -- and remember, just as Rosemarie said to me that day -- you are still that same person. And God does have a future and a hope -- for YOU.
G. Randall Vaughn