It’s a week of guest posts on the blog. But fear not, next week is already loaded with great, slightly controversial and certainly fun content. Today, another guest post from my long-time friend Bob Goff. I asked Bob months ago if, before his book Love Does comes out, I could feature some of the content. So, you’re reading it here first. You’ll love the book. When he sent me the final chapter last year, it cost me a day. I say it cost me a day because I couldn’t work anymore. I was that devastated. Love Does is a collection of simple (read “hits you from the side”) essays about faith, love, forgiveness, frustrations and ultimately God. Bob paints a hopeful picture of a life of faith, but it’s the kind of faith that takes action (great characters do things.) Anyway, another excerpt from Love Does:
I was in college and thought I wanted to be a forest ranger and later, a surfer. Then I got my first “dear Bob” letter from someone I really cared for who didn’t want to date a forest ranger or a surfer any more.
I’ve learned that God sometimes allows us to find ourselves in a place where we want something so bad that we can’t see past it. Sometimes we can’t even see God because of it. When we want something that bad, it’s easy to mistake what we truly need for the thing we really want. When this sort of thing happens, and it seems to happen to everyone, I’ve found it’s because what God has for us is obscured from view, just around another bend in the road.
In the Bible, the people following God had the same problem I did. They swapped the real thing for an image of the real thing. We target the wrong thing and our misdirected life’s goal ends up looking like a girl or a wide-brimmed hat or a golden calf. All along, what God really wants for us is something much different, something more tailored to us.
It’s in my nature, maybe all of our natures, to try to engineer things. So I skew the answers to get what I thought I wanted. But when I do that, I also get what I don’t want, too, like a cot and a room full of guys. The first time I wanted someone to care for me as much as I cared for her, she picked someone else and I tried to talk her out of it. If I had been successful, I wouldn’t have experienced love in the unique way that I have. I wouldn’t have found who and what God tailor-made for me.
I’m kind of glad I didn’t end up being a forest ranger or a surfer. I’m even glad things turned out the way they did after I drove away from UCLA. While painful at the time, I can see now, many years later when I look in the rearview mirror of my life, evidence of God’s tremendous love and unfolding adventure for me. I’ve received many letters since then in my life that started out “Dear Bob.” Some were letters so thick they had to be folded several times to fit in the envelope. They left me feeling as folded when I read their words with shattering disappointment. Still, whatever follows our “Dear Bobs” is often another reminder that God’s grace comes in all shapes, sizes, and circumstances as God continues to unfold something magnificent in me.
And when each of us looks back at all the turns and folds God has allowed in our lives, I don’t think it looks like a series of folded-over mistakes and do-overs that have shaped our lives. Instead, I think we’ll conclude in the end that maybe we’re all a little like human origami and the more creases we have, the better.
* You can pre order Love Does today. It’ll be out officially on May 1 but rumor has it they’ve already shipped tons of them, so you may get it much sooner.