Hope itself is like a star — not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.
My hopeless and dreamless ways led me to dropping out of college and making the decision to run away. I had attempted it before, but plans were always thwarted. This time, I was determined to make the break. I sold my car and most of my earthly possessions at an outdoor market and bought a one-way bus ticket to Vancouver, British Columbia. There was a sale offered that autumn: You could ride 170 miles to Fargo, North Dakota or 1,700 miles to Vancouver for the same price. It was a no-brainer. I chose the farthest western destination available. I was going to leave it all behind once and for all. Like the Casting Crowns song goes, “I went running 100 miles an hour in the wrong direction”... or in my case, 60 miles an hour.
I boarded the Greyhound Bus in September with less than $100 in my backpack. I traveled with only a few possessions, one of them being a Bible that had been given to me by a friend. I was traveling lightly with possessions, but I was heavy in heart and soul. The ache in my soul only increased as the bus stop in St. Cloud, Minnesota got smaller in the rearview mirror.
Vancouver was so far away, and I was afraid. I got off the bus in Missoula, Montana and made my way to the area youth hostel. There were other lost souls there, and offers for worldly pleasures were set before me. All the hopes I had that a different location would change the trajectory of my life were quickly dashed. Calamity came like a storm, and disaster swept in like a ferocious wind.
Some of the worst and two of the best things in my life happened in Missoula. I got married and was blessed with a beautiful, blue-eyed, blonde-haired boy. On the morning of his first birthday, the man who had committed to loving me “until death do us part” made the decision to leave us.
That evening, through tear-filled eyes, I shared a single cupcake with my son on a blanket on the lawn. It was one of those bittersweet moments that gets sealed into your memory and becomes extra cherished when the wound heals.
A beautiful woman of God was providing childcare for us. Her handprints were often impressed upon her face when we arrived in the morning from burying her face in her hands while she prayed. Her black leather Bible was often in sight, well loved and much used.
I saw an airplane carrying the Montana Band fall out of the sky on the 4th of July. We partied together at a mansion on the shores of Flathead Lake before the band's departure, singing “God Bless America” together. Less than an hour later, all ten aboard were dead. Charred bodies and musical instruments lay scattered about the hillside of an orchard in view of the mansion just south of Glacier National Park.
The questions of life and death, life's brevity and finality, kept getting harder and harder to silence. I could no longer escape them.
Less than six months after watching that plane fall out of the sky, I encountered adversity in the night. It was a point of no return. I knew that I had to make a choice. It was life or death. I chose life that night in Missoula. I surrendered my life to the One who gave His life for mine — Jesus Christ.
I found hope.
Lyrics from “Does Anybody Hear Her” by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns