By Larry Bubb
I was the youth pastor at a San Diego church for a few years. One of the youth I had the privilege of encouraging was Andy Shirley, who would ask me questions about playing guitar and writing songs. He went off to college and changed his name (as many musicians do these days) to Andrew, then to Drew. Sean Combs changed his name to Puff Daddy and then to P. Diddy. I was glad Andy did not go with Drew Diddy, although I was kind of pulling for “Drew Wah Diddy Diddy Dum Diddy Drew.”
Drew is currently the lead guitarist for a band called Switchfoot.
The father of the two guys who formed the band is a pastor in San Diego.
Once at lunch, he asked another friend of mine to tell him about an experience that ended up being extremely disappointing or a huge letdown. Then he asked if any good came out of it or if God was able to use it in ways that were unexpected. After my friend explained how things had resolved in a wonderful way the father replied, “Ah, what a beautiful letdown!” That is the title of their fourth album.
Let me tell you about a time in my life when I was literally wrecked, and God turned it into a beautiful letdown. I was driving back from speaking and singing at a camp for inner-city kids from L.A. A car swerved in front of me and to avoid hitting it, I ran off the road and immediately into a tree at about 55 m.p.h. The car, which was a Cordia, quickly became an accordion. It took them nearly an hour to get me out of the car before I was life lighted in a helicopter to the emergency room. I had a concussion and a couple broken bones to show for my heroic act. I found out later that the paramedics on the scene predicted I had about 48 hours to live. I could have been paralyzed or missing limbs, but I was miraculously left in pretty good shape.
I especially knew God wanted me alive because of what happened two nights earlier at that camp. I was making a phone call around 11 p.m. in what looked to be a dead-end corridor. All the kids were in their tents for the night. I glanced up and saw a bear walking toward me down this dead-end corridor! He wasn’t a grizzly but he was bigger than me. I figure he must have been a teenager bear (he had his Walkman on listening to Beyonc, er, I mean, Switchfoot).
I didn’t think I would be scared if I ever saw a bear in public because the bears in the zoo always seemed friendly and I grew up watching Yogi the Bear. Me & Yogi were tight, but as my luck would have it, this bear did not know Yogi! I was desperately praying, “Please God, don’t let this bear eat me!” Right at the last minute he turned away from me and started to walk down to where all the kids were, and I was glad! Well, not that he was going for the kids, but at that point it was every man for himself.
Now when you run into a tree at 55 m.p.h. and you have a bear come at you and you live, you have a strong assurance that God wants you alive. Then it dawned on me, “God wanted me alive before the accident as well, I just hadn’t really thought about it much.”
A few months after my wreck, I was sharing the story and how God not only had a reason for me to still be alive, but that God had a purpose for every person hearing my voice, even if their car had not been wrecked. A teenager who had planned to commit suicide that night talked to me afterward. He realized that God did have a purpose for his life, so instead of walking out the door to end his life, he walked into a life that will never end. God took my wrecked car and turned it into a beautiful letdown.
I think back to whatever little encouragement I could be to Andy-Andrew-Drew, and now see him playing guitar for millions. God is using this humble and genuine Christ-follower in mighty ways.
We may never know the impact we can have on someone, and many times I’m sure we never will this side of eternity. But I am convinced that when we do take the time to encourage others and help “the least of these,” God will use those efforts to make an eternal difference . As Switchfoot sings, “We want more than this world has to offer.”
This world and its promises will let us down. But God takes letdowns and car wrecks and makes them beautiful.
When was the last time that you had a letdown that God made beautiful?
Larry is a homiletical humorist/musician who has traveled full-time for over 20 years sharing God’s awesome love. He formed the non-profit corporation Larry Bubb Ministries to help let this hurting world know there is hope in Jesus. You can find out more about this ministry & his most recent album of 18 songs called “The Best of Larry Bubb… Plus 17 Bonus Tracks” at his website.