In October of 2001, I was feeling lost and overwhelmed. I’m normally a pretty confident guy, but life circumstances had shaken me and I was beginning to doubt my ability to control my own destiny. My wife and I were engaged at the time and set to be married on November 15 in Florida, but the tragedy of 9/11 had family and friends wondering if it was wise to fly. We were also coordinating living arrangements, trying to relocate to a new city, and searching for employment. All that, combined with car trouble, had me feeling like a failure.
At the time, I was not a believer. I was agnostic—I thought there could be a God, but I wasn’t sure. I remember sitting at my desk at work, feeling completely defeated, reaching for a pad of paper and writing a note to God asking for help.
At my apartment that night, I began to reflect on my moment of weakness, “What a dumb thing to do!” I thought. “If there is a God, he certainly has bigger problems to worry about than mine.” I reached into my pocket searching for the note, intent on destroying it, but it wasn’t there. In embarrassment I drove back to the office, believing I’d left the note on my desk, and fearing someone else would find it. But it wasn’t there, either. Now I started to become concerned about what I’d written. I remembered being pretty frustrated at the time. I began to fear that I’d written something offensive, like, “God, get me out of this job. It stinks!” I half expected my boss to call me into her office on Monday morning and to lecture me for being unappreciative. But the meeting never came. In fact, from that moment forward, things began to turn around. That week I met a man who would eventually hire me as a salesman—and later became one of my most trusted and loyal friends, the wedding in Florida went off just as we dreamed without interruption, and in the midst of an epic blizzard, where landlord after landlord canceled our appointments, my wife and I found an apartment that turned out to be exactly what we needed.
After agreeing to terms on our new home, we drove to my parents’ house to gather for Christmas. My confidence had been restored and once again I believed, with a little hard work, I could control my destiny.
The Apostle Paul said to the unbelievers in Athens, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”
Our God is a God of order and detail, and all of creation testifies to his existence. That fact alone does not prove Christianity true. But it is reasonable to believe that a Creator, who pays such close attention to detail, would not just set the universe in motion and walk away.
We often live our lives believing we are self-sufficient. That we are in control of our own destinies. It is not true. The Psalmist writes, “All the days ordained for me, were written in your book” (Psalm 139:16).
This all-powerful God who marks our days needs nothing from us. He is completely sufficient, and yet he desires a relationship with us. He did not create humankind in his image just to walk away from us when things got tough. In fact, in the Garden of Eden, we see God do the opposite. As sin entered our world, we see God walking toward his creation and calling out. In that same spirit, we see God sending his Son—Jesus Christ— to die for our sins and take control of our destinies.
As my wife and I returned from celebrating Christmas at my parents’ home, I opened the door to our apartment to find a small piece of paper folded up in the center of the entryway. As I picked up the note and unfolded it, I read the words, “God, please help.”
Perhaps, after missing for nearly two months, the note simply fell out of a pocket or slipped from a book. At the time I was confused. I did not know what to think. But I can tell you what I believe today: Though I was far from him, he was near to me.
Do not doubt that he is near to you as well. Seek him, and you will find him. Reach out to him. He is closer than you think.
Rev. Troy Tysdal is Director of Communications and Prayer for the Church of the Lutheran Brethren and serves as editor in chief of Faith & Fellowship magazine.