By Andrew Peters
My grandpa owns some land in Drasco, AR, just northwest of Heber Springs. I think that’s where I’ve found peace the most. Most of my mid 20’s I had lost God…or I thought I had.
I found God for the first time in college.
I remember showing up to one of the first classes of my senior year of college. I looked around and everyone looked so sure of themselves. They looked ready for the world. I wasn’t. I was a child. An immature, scared child. I didn’t have the same look on my face as my classmates. I knew I had to change but I wasn’t ever strong enough to. Every outlet I ever used for the stress and pressure in my life was gone. I had nowhere to turn. I came home that night and cried. I locked the door to my room, fell to the ground in my room, and it just all came out. In the middle of this breakdown, it hit me. There had to be a better way. I’d felt it my whole life. Somewhere down deep inside. It was the same feeling I had when I was 13 years old, looking out the window from the breakfast table each morning before middle school. This feeling like there was a peace to be found.
God wanted me.
I don’t remember how it happened. I must have reached for the Bible collecting dust on my nightstand. I read, I flipped through pages, and I found it. A verse in Matthew that changed my life forever. Jesus taught me how to live, taught me how to think, and I was renewed. I became strong with God.
Fast forward a year and a half and I felt lost all over again, but at least I knew God. However, even though I knew Him, I still became depressed after college. Life just wasn’t as exciting anymore. Going out on Friday nights became a tedious chore. I felt bored in a room full of music and people, even with enough beer and whiskey to satisfy us for days. But it just wasn’t the same. In college, the gratification of passing classes listed out on a daily schedule was too easy. The world got busy after college, and I got lost in it…I became impatient with God. I yelled at God asking, “Why am I here? Why do I even matter?”
In early 2017, however, things began to change. My dad told me he wanted to start going to the land in Drasco and put a four-wheeler trail in.
That’s where I heard God again.
I loved her since I was 17. She was ‘that’ girl. The hot, cheerleader of my dreams.
I was quiet, shy and for some reason, she took a chance on me back in high school. After a few parties, phone calls, texts and lake trips, I made her my girlfriend. But like many high school loves, it didn’t last. Time went by, and me, being the young immature kid I was, called it off with Helen after senior year of High school, and then (again) later on in college…but I always thought about Helen. I knew I would always love her.
I was actually really happy when Helen found Craig. Someone to make her happy. All I ever did was make her cry. I had let go, I never contacted her. I wanted her to live her life. The Helen I once knew became a picture and post I’d see while scrolling through Facebook. But even though we lost contact, I thought about her almost every day.
A year after her marriage, I remember hearing about Craig’s accident. I thought back to the one time I met Craig. It was at a wedding, and as chance would have it, he was one of the first faces I saw. We shook hands and chatted a second. We even walked together out to where the ceremony would be held. He had an upbeat personality, you could tell he loved life. He was a good guy too. You could see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. I was truly happy for him and Helen and felt at peace that they were together.
When I heard he had passed, I drove home from work at lunch. I stood in my dining room and looked out the back window. I don’t know why it happened, and I don’t know why I started doing it, but I started praying…not just to God, but to Craig as well.
Somehow God let me know that Craig could hear me and that he was listening. It almost felt like time no longer existed, it no longer mattered. The physical world around me went away, and my spirit just came out and spoke:
“Craig, I’ve loved Helen my whole life. Thank you for loving this girl that I was too immature to love. Look into my heart, and if it is good…if it is worthy…please lead her back to me. I can take care of her, I’m finally ready to love her.”
After the Prayer
About a year after this prayer, I stopped going out as much. It might sound counterintuitive, but I stopped trying so hard to be happy. I’d been worn down, I gave up. I was tired of trying to find happiness after college. I figured out that sometimes, happiness is just being content with what God’s given you. Being Content with what God has put right before your eyes. But so often our pride blinds us, and we think we’re supposed to have more. I thought because I knew God and had a good heart, I was supposed to be happy.
A huge turning point came when my dad asked me to put a four-wheeler trail in at the land in Drasco. We worked on the trail every weekend for almost 2 months. It was the perfect getaway. I loved it. No more loud bars, empty conversations, or meaningless relationships. Just me, dad, his three-legged dog, and the woods.
God spoke to me when I went there. Life slowed down. I could hear God loudest in the silence. One day we went over the creek and crossed a gas line, which brought us to a row of pine trees. I saw the sunshine through the trees, a red-orange glow just over the horizon at dusk. My dad was heading to the truck after a long day’s work. His three-legged dog trotting along behind him. I stood back. I let them get a little further ahead. I wanted to capture this moment. This one moment in time. Just for me, like a gift God had waited 28 years to give me. I stood still, the wind blowing through the knee-high grass. “Patience”, is all I heard. God spoke to me. It was the first time since college.
A Year Later
Days and months went by. I was in bed one night, planning to get up early for hunting that morning at the land in Drasco. Around 11:00pm I get a message. I roll over to see who it’s from. It’s the girl I’ve loved my whole life. She sent a video of us from high school, laughing and joking like we always did. I decide not to say anything right away, I want to think about a reply. I go peacefully back to sleep with a smile on my face.
A few short months later we celebrated our marriage with close friends and family. Somehow the girl I always loved found her way back to me. Is my life perfect now? Far from it. What I can say, however, is that waiting on God was the best decision I ever made. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t do it boldly, I’m no saint. I fought and clawed my way through it; I let down my friends and family but kept my eye on God all the while. I’ll never forget the message he told me on those 40 acres of land that day. “wait, be patient.”
Andrew’s story is so powerful. I remember when he told me all of this in full detail on one of our first conversations. As I read his blog it reminded me of a time in my life when God called me back to Him. Even though Andrew’s and my experiences were different, they were ultimately the same…we had to step away from the world for a while in order to suck out the venom it was poising our hearts with. I remember crying on my floor during graduate school (probably close to the same time Andrew was doing the same thing since I was a graduate student when he was a 5th year senior), and after I don’t know how long of laying on the floor, I heard God say to me, “Be still Helen, and know that I am God.”
I started searching through my closet looking for a diary of some sort to start documenting my new season of life. It came as no surprise when I found a journal my mom had given me a long time ago, with a verse on the cover that read, “Be still and know that I am God.” That journal became my first prayer journal, and I still hold on to it today. It’s full of pain, tears, and prayers crying out to God. But it’s also filled with hope, strength, and new beginnings.
Sometimes waiting periods are words than the storm. They drive us crazy because we can’t see the future ahead of us. But God’s word tells us He is there in the waiting period. He is working on our behalf. So whatever waiting period you’re in. Wait on God. Have faith in who He is and what He promises He will do. Like Andrew said, you don’t have to be a saint. You may have to fight your way through the whole process. But if you’ll wait. If you’ll have faith in God’s steadfast love, and trust that it is His desire to take care of you. Then I believe you too will tell someone someday, “It’s worth the wait.”
Praying for you today and always.
Love in Christ,
(Ps. If you’re looking for a good “coming back to Jesus” song, I love the song “Let it All Out” by Relient K. I listened to it on repeat when I was going through my waiting period.)