RURAL BRYANT, SD, PRESENTS:
How I was Given the Purpose
to the Tragedy of the Deaths of My Dad & Uncle,
by Ronald Ginther
We lost our provider, for one thing. Mother had held no job as provider, but she had to find a job to support our large family. She found a job as cook at an Old Folks Home, as was called back then in the 1940s. Life became a hard struggle, as her wage was 90 cents an hour, with very hard work and long hours. Many things other families had and took for granted were no longer available to us in our home made from two berry cabins rolled down the hill on logs and joined together by my dad. He was not able to get more than an excavation for the basement of our coming new home done before his death put a stop to any such project, forever.
Our rustic hillside home had some basics and lacked most others. It had no indoor bathroom and hot water heater, no central heating, and was very draughty with uninsulated walls. Rats from the nearby Port of Tacoma had a heyday in the attic and even invaded our living space and attacked my eldest sister in bed.
Noticing the differences with other boys and girls at school, unable to afford hot lunches, ashamed of my sack lunches, I began seriously resenting our apparent poverty in the early grades. I was ashamed of our deplorable circumstances. My resentment and shame grew into bitterness. I was poisoned by bitterness, gradually, so that I lost confidence in myself and wanted only to escape from my own home and family if I could. There was no escape, however. But how was I to cope with it?
Yes, Mother took us to church regularly, and we were instructed in Sunday School at church about God, but I questioned God, how God could permit us to lose our dad (and uncle too) in a plane crash and leave us in the state we were in. My eldest brother seemed to suffer the most, as he was heart-broken by his father his idol's death and evidenced mental illness and had to be hospitalized for years at a time, when he wasn't out roaming about and seemingly going nowhere in life. Despite all that, he was very intent on following his dad in evangelism, to the point he sold Watkins' products door to door so well he won a money prize and used it to go to a Bible school. There he completed the training very honorably, and became a credentialed street preacher and downtown mission speaker too. All that was highly commendable for a fatherless boy who had brain damage and bouts of mental illness, and also had been preyed upon in the mental wards by grown men when he was a young boy. Yet his sporadic stays at home brought a certain amount of turmoil, due to his erratic behavior, and I was glad whenever he left and took off across country by bus or train. Sometime later we would hear he was in trouble, was picked up by the police behaving crazy, and needed someone to come and get him, in Florida once, and California too. We couldn't go and get him, not having the means, but relatives nearest him would do what they could, if he was not sent home by train by the authorities or placed ion a hospital again.
My schooling continued, despite the episodes of chaos at home due to Darrell mainly, and I made it all the way to college and university, eventually, and sought only fame and riches from writing, though I had been saved at age 15 at Augustana Academy in Canton, SD.
Lapsed from my faith, I became only more bitter about the loss of my father as years passed. After service in the Air Force, I returned to school to finish college, then went into graduate school in Eastern Washington State, but there was no happiness or joy, I was all the more bitter at heart. Finally, a crisis came when I alienated my own graduate adviser.
I became so unhappy that nothing seemed to work for me anymore. One day on returning to the dorm I saw a booklet on the banister going up, and I took it and went into my room, and looking it, found it was the Gospel of John. I was no Christian anymore, but I read it like I would read any literature, and, furnished proof after proof, it convinced me that Jesus is the Son of God. The moment I thought, "Yes, he is the Son of God," I forgot about it. But soon after things began to work out for me, my thesis was finished to the point where I submitted it, and it was accepted, my graduate adviser being so pleased that he must have overlooked my former hostility shown him.
Everything was smoothed like all the gears of my graduate program were greased with finest machine oil. My graduate expenses were paid despite my lack of funds, my thesis typed and bound and three copies made, and, miracle of miracles, I passed, on the third attempt, the graduate test in German, which was on the subjunctive, which was not taught! After a failed test, the next one got harder, and wrong guesses were subtracted from the "good guesses," so that made it impossible to be lucky on those exams. On the third attempt, I knew it was utterly hopeless, but what else was I to do? I couldn't graduate with a M.A. unless I passed the German test, so I had to try again, regardless.
To try a different venue just for a possible change in a string of bad luck, I transferred from my Washington College to the University of Montana at Missoula. The test came up and I gritted my teeth and showed up. I took one look and knew for sure this was a lost cause. So I checked boxes without looking at anything, handed in the test, and walked out. I had no other reason for remaining at Missoula so I caught the next bus and returned to my alma mater in Washington--for what reason, I have no recollection. One day not long after, maybe a couple weeks after taking the exam, I was passing by the English Department office. The head secretary called out through the open door, having seen me go by. I heard my name and went in her office, wondering what on earth I had done. She said she thought I had passed the German test! What? Had she gone mad? It would have taken a linguistic genius with 6 or 7 languages under his belt to pass that German subjunctive examination!
I couldn't believe it was true, but I stopped breathing as she fumbled in the files, and finally brought out my file. She riffled through the pages, read something, then said to me, "Yes, Ginther, you passed." I could have screamed to high heaven with shock and delight, but somehow divine control was given to me that moment, so I behaved cool as a cucumber and did not give her a heart attack. I left in a casual way, still not taking a breath, my heart racing, with thunder in my soul, for I knew then that God was indeed "back in my life"! I needed no more proofs.
But what to do with my life, now that I could graduate and take my degree and go forth into the world seeking my fortune? It came to me to return to Minneapolis, to work for my uncle in his landscaping firm. As I had no idea what to do with my degree, and detested the idea of teaching and facing classes, I wrote to my uncle and aunt, and they said to come. I arrived there at their home, and found myself enveloped in love, it was supernaturally strong, a feeling like pillows pressing on me warmly from every side! I was changing inside as well, and responded positively. The old bitterness that chained my heart for decades fell away, chain by chain. I entered into church and Bible studies with my aunt and uncle, and began to learn for the first time about a living Lord Jesus Christ, and that He was the One to whom to dedicate my life, now that I was welcomed back into God's family as a prodigal son.
The catastrophe of my dad's death no longer was the source of lifelong, destructive bitterness, and I began to feel a different person, for I was different in spirit somehow. I returned home, and told everyone what a change the Lord had brought to me, restoring my faith in him, and they noticed a change all right. I even asked forgiveness of anyone I had offended, and hugged people! Some preferred how I was in my worldly days to being the born-again Christian I had become, for I was grown zealous for his glory and was determined to do his work. My worldly writings, all my typed manuscripts, which I had intended to gain me fame and fortune, I dropped in a garbage can one day I will never forget, filling it completely from the bottom to the brim, and it was hauled away. That had given me an uneasy conscience increasingly, until I gave it all up. Then I felt I was free, and the bondage of the past was broken once for all.
Yet one thing remained unresolved: why had God allowed the deaths of my father and uncle? What was the purpose of it? I still did not know. I felt I had to know, and God finally, after seeking the answer for nearly thirty-five years, provided the answer--an answer that would change my whole understanding of God's Grace and also show me there is such a thing as his "Severe Mercy."
Some people will naturally ask, what is so troubling about a fact of life, everyone dies sooner or later, why not accept the fact and move on? Why make a big deal out of my dad's death. It is sad, true, this thinking goes on, but other people lose their parents, and they don't go prodding God about it for half their lives for answers to what ought to be obvious. Be sensible! they seem to say.
What can I say to that? I just don't think they get the real question I had in mind. Some of these people, I notice, have had both living parents all their lives, so they don't have any idea of the dislocation and upset to normal life the death of a parent can inflict. Abortion advocates, it has been noted, have all been born. Would they be so cavalier about abortion if they were yet unborn and could hear their mother discussing the scheduled procedure at Planned Parenthood clinic?
Others have suffered the loss of a parent, but somehow they are strong enough to weather it and accept it in time, and "move on." I was not like either group. And I am forever glad I was not! For the truth is there WAS a special purpose in what happened to my dad and uncle! God had hidden it, but it existed. My mother knew of it, but she did not feel it would be accepted, so she kept silent. I did not know that, so for many years I had to "gnaw" my bone of contention with the Lord's mysterious dealings with my family, and got no where at all or closer to the answer.
It was frustrating and futile, but I could not help myself. I simply HAD to find out what God's purpose was! No one encouraged me in my quest, or even thought it worth-while pursuing. Despite that, I had to find out the purpose of God in the tragedy of my dad and uncle's deaths in the plane crash.
Jan. 9, 1947, in rural Baltic, they died in a fiery crash snuffing out their lives instantly. With no apologies, I must say that event defined me whether anyone liked it or not, or thought it was a ghoulish occupation to be so "obsessed" with a tragic happening and the question of God's purpose in it. They could think I was digging up dead men's bones to find out the real cause of their deaths. I had to find out, though I went at it alone.
I failed to find the missing piece of the puzzle, but God was holding it, I found out afterwards, for the right time and circumstance he had set up for it to be revealed to me.
My church had supported the ministry of a Romanian evangelist and Bible smuggler. He had a story of a miraculous escape from Communist Romania under its worst and most blood-thirsty dictator with an unpronounceable name that starts with a "C" and ends, I think, with a "u." However spelled, his name spelled GODLESS MONSTER. He was determined to his last day in power to stamp out every vestige of Christian belief in his police state and slave camp nation. Want that here in America, fellow Americans? It is hell on earth. But God built the faith of a young Christian couple, and He ultimately delivered all of them from Communist hell. It was a great deliverance, and I was highly privileged to be chosen by him to write his account. I had given up my writing ability entirely, but my wife and the pastor and his wife pressed me to do the account and offer myself as his biographer. I did so, not expecting he would choose me, but he told he would pray about it. He left and then returned to the picnic table (it was at a church picnic where this happened) where we had been sitting, and said it was mine to write. I was so surprised, but I began in the next few days to plan and think how I could organize and write his story. The format came to me easily, record him, then write down his story in organized chapters. I had to know about Romania's history too, so I raided the local library. Then when he returned to visit his church, I was more ready for the work. I began to record him, but it did not go anywhere until I typed up hundreds of questions. He could answer them, and then I transcribed his recorded responses and organized his answers to my questions into a narrative. It is called "Walk in the Light," and was printed, but the 2,000 book printing was not enough. I finally put a Study Guide to it and put it up on Amazon Kindle with the same title. What a blessing it was to write it, but an even greater blessing, of a personal kind, came to me through my future encounters with Ilie Coroama.
PLEASE RETURN FOR PART II AND THE WONDERFUL WAY GOD ANSWERED MY BURNING QUESTION
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