Everyone loves a story especially a real-life one that speaks of overcoming the odds. I want to share mine. Though it wasn’t a very serious situation it was a certainly a very challenging one for me. It was a major turning point in my life.
An average student
I was an average student in school. But at times, there were glimpses of my potential. Sometimes, I would focus and score the highest on a subject or get a pretty good score.
Even after my school education, for few years, my mom kept telling me that I never lived up to the potential. But I have to come to realize that getting a good score on a subject isn’t the measure of one’s potential. It’s much more than that.
A shot at the engineering exam
I finished my school in 1998. Popular opinions at that time indicated that an engineering degree was the next best thing to pursue. My parents felt the same. Writing an IIT exam was the in-thing those days for science students, at least in my school.
Though I wasn’t really interested, I and few of my friends thought it’s kinda cool to write an IIT entrance exam. We didn’t have any other ambition or clear goals in life. So we thought okay, let’s go with the flow.
We started preparing for the IIT exams by taking extra classes at one of the IIT entrance coaching institutes.
A day before the IIT entrance exam, one of my buddies got a movie ticket with the show timings in the same time slot as the IIT exam. The next day, after a few minutes into the exam, he got up, flashed the movie ticket to the person-in-charge, and asked, “Sir, can I leave now? I have a movie to catch, see here is the ticket I bought.”
You could gauge the level of confidence we had in our preparation. It was zero. After the IITian-wannabe fever died down, the next best thing suggested was to crack the engineering entrance exam in Kerala. So I stayed in Kerala for one year but that didn’t work out either.
I returned to Delhi. My parents suggested that I do the Bachelors of Information Technology degree from IGNOU. So I joined and with much difficulty, I completed it.
At that time, IIT had introduced an all India entrance exam for Masters in Computer Application. This was conducted by IIT for various universities. I wrote that exam and scored a good percentile.
I got into Jamia Hamdard University, Delhi. I was really bored with the subjects in MCA. I was failing in my papers. I was so bored that I nearly dozed off a bit while writing an exam in the class.
But one good thing that happened in the first year of college was that I started exploring web and graphic design on my own at home. And I was liking it. In fact, I was the only one in my class, who could design.
I came to my senses
There were days when I would leave home but instead of going to the college, I would head to Connaught Place or India Gate. I would sit there for hours and seriously ponder on my life and where I was heading.
I was 26. I was at home. I was the black sheep. I felt terrible wasting my parent’s money and time. I knew I could not continue living like this anymore. I realized that I needed to do something.
In a way, I came to my senses. I knew I had to decide the next steps for my life and not leave it to others. I needed to own my life because no one else would. I needed to take responsibility for my life.
I was determined. But I needed some help and I knew only one person could help me, God.
I was still on a journey of growing in friendship with God at that time. Before this, God did help me out of a situation but that story is for another day. But I still wasn’t involving God in many areas of my life. I was leaving it to others to make the decisions.
God steps into the picture and speaks 5 things
So I started seeking God for a direction. It wasn’t that I was incapable of making a decision or figuring out what to do. But at that point, I was running low on confidence. I wasn’t even aware of what I am good at or my interests. I had just discovered web and graphic design and was liking it.
I wanted my next shot to be the best shot. I knew it’s now or never. I can’t afford another mistake. I can’t waste my time.
I read in the Bible how God gave counsel and even strategies to those who cared to ask. It was real and it worked out for them. I read a portion of the Bible where God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you”. I really believed those words.
I didn’t have a mentor or someone to whom I could share my frustrations. But I realized I could speak to God, heart to heart. I could tell Him how I felt, like David did in his poetry as recorded in the Bible.
So one night I poured my heart to God. I said, “ God, I have made mistakes. I am not where I could have been. I have wasted my life and time. It looks like it’s all over for me.”
Folks, that’s the moment when God clearly spoke. It was a Rocky Balboa one liner but an edited version of it. I still remember that night.
1. God said, “Did I say it’s over? It’s not over till I say it’s over.”
When God said that I tangibly sensed a supernatural peace, hope, and faith in my heart. I knew God is up to something. That one line from God boosted my confidence. I was charged up. I was pumped.
I was thinking of quitting the college. I didn’t want to waste my parent’s money anymore nor my time. But I just wanted to be 100% sure. If I was going ahead with this, I wanted to make sure God is backing me up on this otherwise it will be a blunder.
So I started praying and seeking God. I was asking, “What do you think, will it be a good move to drop out of the college?”. And that’s when God spoke again.
2. God said, “Leave college, it will be all fine.”
There was such a peace in my heart when God said it, that I knew He was going to show me the next steps.
So I told my mom in December 2005 that I am no longer going to college, that I am dropping out. Mom was okay with it but Dad was furious. My sister was getting married in Feb 2006 in Kerala. So my parents were more focussed on that. I knew I had some space to breathe at least for a couple of months.
3. God said, “You will get married within a year.”
At my sister’s wedding in Feb 2006, my relatives started asking me why I left the college and that it was a foolish decision. They even said that no one is going to marry you, to which I replied, “I am going to get married within one year and if it happens in 2006, it will be a miracle.”
I said that because God told me it is going to happen. I haven’t even met the girl, I dropped out of college and I don’t have a job. And God says, “You will get married within a year”.
After my sister’s wedding in Feb 2006, I spent the next 3 – 4 months at home, waiting, seeking God and spending some time in design. Those months of waiting were tough. My parents were not too happy and I could feel the pressure building up.
Meeting my wife
Then in June, I end up at a new church community and a week or two into it, my eyes fall on this girl at a young people’s meet up. We didn’t speak but smiled at each other.
Since I was the new guy at the church, I didn’t want to give an impression that I am here for the wrong reasons. So I said to myself that I won’t make the first move.
After 3-4 weeks, as I was hanging out at the church venue, she comes and introduces herself to me. Wow! take that. We spoke to each other for 2 hours. And then she made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse.
She asked me out for a coffee. This was happening too fast and at the back of my mind, I was wondering what the church folks would think of me if they spot us at the coffee shop. I was the new guy.
But there was such an instant connection between us that we knew without a shadow of a doubt that God has set us up. We exchanged our phone numbers.
The next day I was taking a walk in the park near my home. It was a cool breeze blowing moon shining kinda night. The scene was romantically perfect and I texted her. After a few exchanges of texts, she said, “Wish I was there by your side, holding your hand.”
Rest is history.
I told my parents, “Hey! I found this girl, she’s the one. Let’s fix the engagement and the marriage date”. My parents thought I was out of my mind. They were reluctant but somehow felt to move ahead with it. So my engagement was fixed in September and marriage in December. Remember that God said that I will get married within a year. So we were on track.
I fixed my wedding date first before I figured out how I am going to earn. So I said, “God, I am getting married yay woohoo but I don’t have any bank balance!”. Well, God spoke again.
4. God said, “Step into graphic and web design as a freelancer.”
And I said, “God, who is going to give me projects. I am newbie and I don’t have any portfolio to show.”
5. God replied, “I have created the heavens and the earth, do you think it is too difficult for me to open up projects for you? Step into graphic and web design by faith and I will open up projects for you.”
Folks, once again I knew God is going to orchestrate something. In a week or two weeks time, I got my first project.
After a couple of weeks, I got another project from the US. It was through a friend in the church who said that a gentleman in the US has been looking for a web designer for a year. It was a big budget project for about 80K. They gave me the project without asking to show any portfolio. Huh! not bad for someone who just started, right!
And God kept opening projects for the next 9 years without any marketing effort or much struggle till I stopped working as a freelancer. After that, He opened the door to work on a salary basis for a startup founded by one of my former clients based in the US.
The Bible says that if we seek God first, care about and pay attention to what’s right before His eyes and pursue His purpose for our lives then everything that we need for life, God will add it. We don’t need to worry.
And I think that’s what has worked for me. I pursued God and He added things. Often we do it the other way and we end up struggling.
If God said it, He will do it. Faith is acting upon what He says.
American baseball legend Yogi Berra was the first to utter the phrase in 1973: It ain’t over till it’s over. It was then uttered by Sylvester Stallone in his 2006 boxing-comeback flick Rocky Balboa. The movie was released in the same year as when God spoke these five things to me.
It’s a very inspirational quote. But I wasn’t aware of this quote until I first heard an edited version of it from God that night:
“Did I say it’s over? It’s not over till I say it’s over.
For me, what makes it really so special is that God said it. He meant that no matter what happens in your life, listen, son, I will have the last word. So don’t you ever write yourself off. The story ain’t over yet. I am God. I am the beginning and the end. I created you. I can turn around things for you. Nothing is too difficult for me. I have been playing this game for a long time.
Friendship with God
Folks, that’s a part of many life stories that I have with God. Things took a different turn in my life that year. Friendship with God is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. Nothing can trump that. If I wasn’t able to hear God’s counsel and direction, I am not sure what I would have done.
God backed me up when no one believed. I heard Him and followed through. I took the risk because I heard God. I knew I am going to pull this off because God is there to help.
God is relational and He speaks. God is practical but at the same time disruptive. By disruptive I mean at times He may guide you to take steps that are risky and against normal human reasoning.
And that requires you to believe what God says more than other people’s opinion. But make sure you hear God correctly because there are many other voices out there including your own.
The voice you believe will determine the future you experience.
– Steven Furtick
God is interested in our lives. He cares about us but He also respects our free will. He respects the choices we make. If we don’t seek Him, we won’t find Him. You don’t need God to be successful in this life. You can just do religion or be an atheist. You can even self-motivate yourself against all the odds and achieve greatness.
But friendship with God is a different ball game. You won’t find it in religion. It is in a relationship that you will know Him. It is a choice. It is an adventure. It requires faith. God is fascinating and is the best person to hang around with. You can have a real conversation with Him.
But without understanding what Jesus did on the cross, you can’t experience a genuine, deeper and authentic friendship with God. God can bless you but to go deeper requires that you seek Him seriously not casually. The Bible says if you seek God with your whole heart, you will find Him.
If you want to know how to be a friend of God, I will be doing a series of articles on that. Click here to subscribe so that you don’t miss those articles. If you have any questions, kindly email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.