It was late afternoon on a crisp spring Saturday. I sat in the front row listening to this Preacher’s kid, now author. He was discussing how this book was his attempt to put into words how he thinks, as a gift for his kids from a simple request by his wife. Although he had written poetry and many other items, this was Paul’s first book.

The previous year was devastating for him. Financial hardships included losing his home. In a rental home, he penned his story; a story about love and trust.

Twenty-six publishers turned his book down. The twenty-seventh published and this book has sold millions and now is a movie. But that isn’t what this scribble is about.

The book, published in many languages, caught the attention of a secular publisher in Germany, and a documentary request was made. The documentary would be filmed in Oregon and those involved in Germany thought it would be less expensive to use someone locally to do the film work. Joe, the gentleman originally contracted to help with the location shoots, had to bow out due to a scheduling conflict, and his replacement, Bill, had to opt out because of scheduling, too. Bill then sub-contracted the work to his friend, Kevin.

One of the location shots was to be completed at the home where the author, Paul, completed the penning of his book. On the day of filming at this house, Kevin asked Paul if he could ask a really odd question. Agreeing, Paul was asked, “Back in 2005 when you were living here, did you have a Christmas where you had absolutely nothing?”

“Yes,” replied Paul.

“Do you remember that somebody anonymously slipped some money under your door at Christmas?”

Once again Paul answered in the affirmative. “I do.”

“That was me,” Kevin stated. He proceeded to explain that he felt the Holy Spirit nudging him to give someone, who was in need, money that Christmas and his co-worker suggests an address. The co-worker scratched out his friend’s address. “Until today, I didn’t realize that this was the house where one night I put five twenty dollar bills into an envelope, drove by the house and slipped it under the door.”

“Kevin, you don’t understand (what that money meant that Christmas). That hundred dollars was enough that paid for a couple things that we really needed right then and it gave me enough that I was able to go down to Office Depot and print the first fifteen copies of my book…A little story that I wrote for my kids.”

This is only the beginning of the rest of this story.

Paul continued to tell us about how his mother, became a nurse. He talked about how his mother disobeyed orders when a local pastor’s wife, after five miscarriages, had an emergency C-section and delivered a one pound baby boy. His mother was told by the doctor that the child was not viable and to dispose of it.  She couldn’t do it. She sat in the operating room, waiting for the baby to die. He doesn’t.

Her life moves on. Thirty years later, circumstance brings them together. Now a pastor, this baby helps to explains to Paul’s mother the images in this book and this brings a connection to this mother and son.

That day, Paul explained, the good news is not that Jesus came and died to save us. The good news is that nothing will separate us from the love of God. We cannot be separated from God as stated in Romans 8. God will never stop the pursuit of our heart, even when we die. God wants us to trust Him.

That night, I stop trusting myself and began to trust in Him. I wrote a letter to God.

“I will go where you lead me. I will follow” were the first lines. Little did I know what I know now was to follow.  In this letter I poured out my feelings. For years I thought I knew better when it came to choosing a spouse. My heart was breaking from my failed relationships and I told God that night that I would stop doing it myself and let Him take over. I cried and shed many tears that evening. I was broken. I desired to love and be loved. My choices never met my expectations.

The following morning I was still numb from the experiences of the night before. I turned on the TV in an attempt to kill the pain that was still in my heart. As the news program went into commercial, I experienced the first of many nudges by the Holy Spirit that day. Flashing across the screen was an advertisement for Christian Mingle, a Christian dating site. Quickly, I flipped through channels hoping to catch the latest sports scores. Instead it was another Christian Mingle commercial. When it happened the third time in a row I knew it was not a coincidence but God telling me to trust him, that there was someone out there that he was preparing for me. So I signed up.

In my own infinite wisdom, I decided that I was going to expand my search from my local community to a radius of 100 miles. I thought that would be a large enough net to cast in finding that special someone while allowing me to remain in the comfort of my community. Immediately, responses came from those that were looking for the love of a Christian man. As I prayed to make the right choice, I kept hearing, “no, I have someone better waiting for you.” I turned off my tablet and decided to go about my day.

The following Sunday when I returned to my tablet and logged on to the site, I was greeted with 29 responses to my post. This number is important, to which I shall allude to later, as well as the number three, the number of the post I decided to open up, read, and reply to.

It read, ”I know that you are looking for someone within 100 miles of your home, but after I read a little bit more about you I thought I would reply back and see if you would want to be my friend. I don't think you would be interested in dating someone 500 miles away but it would be nice to have someone to talk to.”

I paused. Why would someone over 500 miles away write to me when I clearly stated I was looking within 100 miles of my home? And then I heard the words, “trust Me.”

I sent a note asking this lady if she would be willing to talk online at her convenience. We arranged to talk the next night. In the beginning of our conversation I found out that this she lived in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. I told her that my favorite ballplayer played for the Minnesota Twins and I prefaced that this was an honest statement and not some pickup line. She responded that her favorite player wore number three, Harmon Killebrew.

I explained to her that he was my idol too. I had autographed collectibles of him signed directly to me. The Twins were one of my favorite sports teams and I rattled off their line-up from days gone past including number 29, Rod Carew. I started thinking, is this coincidence? Am I making something more of this than just a conversation?

We continued to type back and forth our questions for each other, you know those safe ones where you can find out a little bit more about that person without really giving up too much about who you really are. I told her that I taught school and she said that she was a hospice nurse; I immediately knew she was a compassionate person and loved working with others. We discovered that we both married our first spouses on the same day within two hours of each other. The coincidences were beginning to mount. Then I asked the question.

“It is getting late and I was wondering if you would pray with me before we sign off for the night?”

Here I was still not trusting God. I thought by asking this question it will show her true colors and verify that this was someone I knew just trying to play a cruel joke on me. She said, “Yes. I would be honored to.”

My heart knew. We still hadn't exchanged pictures or other details about ourselves, but I knew she was the one that God was leading me to. We prayed every night that we talked online and when the conversations went to the telephone we ended each night praying together and to this day we still do.

God has a plan for us. God knows and prepares us for this walk through life. I still have to say yes and trust God. Little did I know how important it was hearing Paul speak about his book and trusting God that day.

Less than six months after beginning the conversations with the woman who would become my wife, we would discover that she had a mass on her brain. She didn't tell many about it. However, we had many people praying for her. Three months after her initial diagnosis, she was scheduled for a follow up to see how the medications had been working for her. The night before the appointment I took a flight from my home to hers so that I could be there to support her. My mind was made up. No matter how tragic the news I was going to be there for her. I was ready to marry her and care for her and pray for her.

Prior to meeting with the doctor that day my wife was given an MRI. She had a strange feeling as this exam was occurring. When the doctor met with us he stated that he could not explain what had happened. The mass had completely disappeared. He wasn't expecting it to be gone. He did not know what the reason was for this.

And I said, “I trust God and He has a reason.” The first thing we did when we entered the car after the appointment was to pray prayers of thanksgiving.

Six months later, on June 7th, my wife and I were married. I completed my move from Indiana to Minnesota. I could feel the love of God permeating throughout our lives.

However, our honeymoon seemed to be short lived when seven months later, this same doctor told my wife and me the news we never expected to hear, “Marty, you have Parkinson’s disease.”

I reflected back that day and said to the doctor, “God has a reason for everything. All you have to do is trust God and His plan will be shown to you. That is why my wife first came to you as a patient and that is why I live here today. Because I placed my trust in God. I trust that He will take care of me.”

And God has. When He led me to Minnesota, He led me to a place which has the best doctors, research, and facilities for me to be able to live a full and productive life. I teach at a virtual school, which is less taxing on my body. I have a great support system that understands living with Parkinson’s, and a local organization has blessed me with an assistance animal that allows me to be independent and productive.

Yesterday, we had a chance to see this movie that was made from Paul’s book. My wife wondered why the tears were flowing from my eyes. “You read the book. You know what is going to happen.”

“I know, but oh, ‘How He Loves Us!’”

William Paul Young, thank you for showing us how God wants us to trust Him and that He never will stop loving us. Thank you for taking me to The Shack.  

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Romans 8:37