When Winning Isn't Enough
By Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club
CBN.com -Elwin Ahu was proud to wear the robe of a circuit court judge. After all, he deserved it. He worked hard, played by the rules, and won.
As an athlete he always had a fierce desire to win. And he was smart. . . smart enough to cruise through college with little effort. He even got into law school. That’s where things changed.
Elwin said, “I’d cut out of class. The same that I did in undergrad, thinking that I could carry on in law school.”
But he couldn’t. He flunked a class and the school threatened to dismiss him. Elwin refused to accept failure and came up with a plan.
“So I figured out a way how I could get through these classes,” explained Elwin.” And I found certain rules and principles that I needed to apply and it became a game to me. If I know the game, if I know the rules then I can pass. And I did.”
Elwin believed he could apply that same strategy to any area of his life and succeed. He even married while in law school, just to prove it.
“Everyone said we were too young. And the more people told me I couldn’t do it, that it wouldn’t be successful, the competitive edge kicked in and I was out to prove them wrong.”
The couple divorced after seven years. They shared custody of their six-yea -old son, Brandon. Elwin refused to accept any blame for the broken marriage.
“ There was failure, but it wasn’t my fault,” said Elwin. “I played by my set of rules. And it was her, my perception at the time, it was because of what she failed to do that created this break up.”
But Elwin’s professional life as a litigator was soaring. His drive to win made him a powerhouse in the courtroom.
“I love trial work, to see the jury come to a decision that you have been advocating even though you didn’t stand a chance walking into that court room.”
His success as a lawyer eventually landed him an appointment as a circuit court judge. His personal life, on the other hand, was a mess. He had remarried into a blended family and was determined to make it work, his way.
“I step in, knight in shining armor, save the day for everyone, play by my rules.”
That only created tension. To make things worse, he damaged his relationship with his son, Brandon.
“Here I am a person who tried to write the rules and play by the rules and even though I did, it’s falling apart,” said Elwin.
“It wasn’t like when I got the “F” in law school I could come back stronger, this time I’m getting another “F” and what do I do?”
Elwin divorced again and moved in with his parents.
Elwin remembered, “My dad saying to me one day, ‘What’s wrong with you? 41, and yet you’re living at home again.’ And I just began wondering, ‘What’s wrong with the world?’ And I couldn’t put my finger on it.”
One afternoon, while in a Honolulu traffic jam, Elwin was listening to a recorded sermon a friend had given him. He liked the message so much he decided to visit the church.
“When the worship was done and as the pastor started to speak it was as if the room just emptied. There was nobody there, it was like he was talking just to me. And I thought, ‘This is insane!’”
The experience stayed with him, so he went back. He still remembers what the pastor said.
“He said, ‘God may have orchestrated every moment in your life for you to be here to receive the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.’ I exploded. Because for the very first time I came to realize that it wasn’t anyone else who was wrong, it was me, that I needed forgiveness.”
Elwin realized that forgiveness comes through Jesus Christ. He also felt he needed to set some things right.
“I needed to not only receive forgiveness from the Lord but to go ask for forgiveness from my two ex-wives. And that was an interesting journey.”
He also asked his son, Brandon, to forgive him, because he felt like he had failed him as a father. But Elwin says, God had already been at work in Brandon’s heart.
“I can still hear his voice. He said, ‘I love you. All is forgiven. Let’s start over.’ And to me if God can do that, God can do anything.”
For two and a half years, Elwin continued serving in the circuit court. He remarried and he and his wife, Joy, felt it was time for him to leave the bench. Today he pastors a young, growing church with his son Brandon.
“I think one of the biggest things God has shown me throughout this entire journey is that life is not about me. It’s about the paradox of dying to self before you can live. That led me to realize that success is not necessarily about where you are, the position you hold or money you make. Life is more about significance and how you can contribute now to someone else’s life.”
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