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Letting God and Letting Others Down

July 4, 2014

“After doing two years in prison, trust me, I’ve seen a lot of tough guys pray. They’re not just praying for themselves; they’re praying for their family and the people they’ve let down.”

Ja Rule

“I want to apologize to all of the people I have let down because of my behavior which has reflected badly on my family, friends, co-workers, business associates and others.”

Kate Moss

I don’t normally use quotes from people, but after receiving a letter yesterday from my ‘brother’ Marvin I’ve been forced to do some soul searching. Marvin played basketball at my high school. At the time we met I was probably 5’4 and he was and is 6’9. He had been in about a dozen foster homes at that point.

One night, after a road game, my dad and I gave Marvin a ride home. The foster parents had locked him out of the house, as he was late for their curfew. Who locks a kid out for missing curfew because of a road game that kept him from any possibility of getting home on time? Our family took Marvin in immediately and within weeks he was officially my foster brother. We were his first white family, which I only point out because of the cultural differences each of us had to adjust to. His friends started teasing him, calling him ‘white boy.’ To some that might sound like bullying, but to us, it was just New Jersey. He was only with us for a year before graduating high school and moving on.

Marvin spent most of his school days in special education. I assure you, whomever placed him there made a mistake. Marvin is smarter than quite a few people I know. However, having not had a normal classroom experience, you can imagine how hard college seemed to him. You see, when you’re 6’9 and can play basketball, someone will find a way of getting a kid with a special education schooling into college. He came home during breaks, and we thought he was doing pretty well. After all, somehow he was eligible to keep playing hoops. We went to see him his 2nd year, which was his first year playing having redshirted. He went up against Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutumbo at Georgetown and more than held his own that night!

I believe it was the summer after that when we met his future wife Peggy. Everything really looked great from our vantage point. Then the school made a coaching change, Marvin’s grades began to fall and all of the sudden he was transferring out. When he left school he wound up playing overseas professionally and had tryouts here with the San Antonio Spurs.

Somewhere along the way, Marvin really got messed up with drugs. He lost his marriage and a chance of knowing his son. His basketball career was over and honestly, I didn’t know how or where to find him. This was back before everyone seemingly had a cell phone.

Fast forward to now, twenty years later, and Marvin is incarcerated. His letter was heartbreaking in that he feels like he let our family down. He had visions of grandeur where he would be making millions and taking care of us. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever felt let down by Marvin. I even feel like maybe I should have done more back then to help him. I just didn’t see his need for the help then.

All of that background leads me to say this. I know we all have times we feel like we’ve let everyone that matters to us down. We can feel like we let God down every time we fail. Can I make perhaps an outrageous belief I have now? I don’t think we as believers ever let God down. Trust me, I have often felt like I let Jesus down, let the Father down. I know I’ve let family and friends down.

I do not claim to understand God. I am working to know Him more, to know His ways more, day by day. When I read Romans 8:28 I see that ALL things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. 2 Timothy 1:9 says He has both saved us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we’ve done, but for His purpose and grace. I am not saying God wants us to fail, I just believe He knows when and how we’ll fail before we even do it. Marvin feels he let his friends and family down, kind of like the celebrity quotes at the beginning showed they felt. He also feels he let God down. I may be completely off base, but I want Marvin to know the only way God can use him where he is right now is for him to be there. Yes, he had to fail to get there, but that doesn’t make Him any less God’s child!

How does it apply to any of us? For one, don’t beat yourself up as far as God is concerned. Humbly and sincerely confess your sin to Him, that’s all. Will you let others down? Of course. Try not to make it a habit and try to rectify each situation if possible. Will others let you down? Ah, that’s perhaps the lesson I want to get across. You know no one else thinks exactly like you and no one’s perfect. Remember that, and ask yourself why you feel let down? I’ll bet if you dig deep enough there’s a selfish reason for that feeling. Cut them a break! Sure, you can tell them what you expected, but give them the same forgiveness you undeservedly get from your Heavenly Father.

Please pray for Marvin. Those of you who knew and remember him, I would be happy to give you his address. I pray he understands I don’t think he let anyone down more than himself and that only total surrender to Christ will alleviate that feeling.

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  1. I was just reminded when David felt he’d let God down he wrote Psalm 51! Good stuff!

  2. I was captivated with this remarkable story. George, thank you for sharing this… I will definitely be praying for Marvin. I appreciated that you said “ask yourself why you feel let down? I’ll bet if you dig deep enough there’s a selfish reason for that feeling”. I believe that is a crucial question. We tuck it behind our anger and shaming others, but it’s really selfishness. Thank you again George

  3. Thank you very much Trisha. I hope I’m getting to the place where I feel more pain for the other person than I do for myself. I think that has to be the Holy Spirit working!

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