In the annals of history, there was once a man described as “ordinary, scrubby-looking man, with a slightly seedy look, as if he was out of office on half-pay” by his peers. Not only was this man scrubby looking, but he had a penchant for binge drinking – so much so that he was fired from his job for it. Surely, you are thinking he must have been an inconsequential member of some strange story in a history book, right? Wrong. The man I am talking about would later give up drinking, regain his job as a general, win a war, subdue the KKK, and even become president of the United States. The man I am talking about is Ulysses S. Grant – who was ironically named Ulysses Grant, the “S” came about because of a typo in military academy that stuck.
Ulysses Grant is one of my personal favourite characters of the civil war; before the war, Grant was withering away in obscurity as a once distinguished general with a drinking problem, and a failed business man who even went so far as selling firewood on a street corner to support himself. Ulysses Grant is a perfect example of a man who hit rock bottom – but God had a greater plan for him.
At the onset of the war, Grant had cleaned his life up, and he was ready to step into destiny. A middle aged man, Grant had finally found his purpose in life. It took him two years of petitioning, but he finally secured his first field command. Grant was a rugged man, who rode into battle wearing muddy boots and a private’s uniform with a General’s rank. Grant ended up being not only the most successful General of the civil war, but the most gracious and forgiving. Upon surrendering, Grant pardoned General Lee and his confederate army, and even paroled them. Grant had been a fierce battlefield commander, but was a gracious and forgiving man as well. He believed that forgiveness and leniency were key to preserving peace. Despite having no political ambitions, Grant would later become president of the United States.
Ulysses S. Grant is a great story, and the perfect example of how God works in our lives. I’d imagine we have all found ourselves in a dark place in life, as Grant did after he was fired as a General for his drinking problem. Yet, Grant would later shape the entire course of history. Maybe you’re in that dark place right now, or perhaps you are on the sidelines waiting for your chance to get in the fight, or maybe you are in the fight but still ascending – let Grant’s story be a reminder of what God has called you to.
Our God is not a passive God that simply calls you to live, die, and go to heaven. God is a God that loves you and has great plans for you. God will bring you up from the pits of darkness, and He will use you to change the world. God has great things in store for you, but it will be in his timing. I’d be willing to bet that if I had a time machine, and in 1855 I went back to tell Ulysses S. Grant that he would save the United States and later be president, he would laugh and tell me that I was insane. Let this be a reminder that God can do incredible things, and the future is bright!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.