A/N: No slash intended. Spoilers through the most recent episode, 5x17.
God understands Sam and Dean more than they will ever know.
He always knew they were looking for him, along with Castiel; of course, he knew. And one reason why they could never find him is because God, like the Winchesters and Castiel themselves, is a wanderer. He moves across the Earth a countless amount of times each day, in countless different forms, his motion immeasurable in terms of time and space and all other aspects of the physical. Sometimes, he is a tree, and sometimes he is a butterfly. Sometimes, he is a bird, a dolphin, a horse, a tiger. Sometimes, he is the wind and sometimes he is the sun. Sometimes, he is the sand or the sea or a snowflake or a flower. Often, he takes on a human disguise: an old man, a child playing in a park, a beautiful woman, a baby, men of all kinds. He changes on his own whim with no more than a nanosecond of thought. He is on a highway, in the mountains, in the woods, in a desert, in a rain forest. He is on every continent multiple times a day. He watches the world. He listens. He contemplates his creation in all of its aspects but he does not interfere.
In his omniscience, he has always known the story of Sam and Dean. He knew it before they did, before they had any inkling of what part they would eventually play. And he knows already how it will end, though they are trapped in the agonizing uncertainty of men. He sees it all, and though he wishes they could understand as He does, He refrains from revealing himself in order to explain. They will learn the truth through experience. They will play out the story as He designed it eons before they were born.
He hears their conversation with the angel Joshua, his messenger. He hears their anger, their disbelief, their disappointment and sense of betrayal. He hears his angel Castiel, cursing him; he hears the angel's heart break. God sighs with compassion as a breeze in the stars above Caribbean Islands. He does not wish any of his children, human or angel, the pain that the Winchesters and Castiel feel. But his own removal from their course is necessary.
He sees the exact moment when Dean gives up in his heart, loses hope, surrenders to what he thinks is his fate to host Michael and kill Lucifer by killing Sam.
Sitting on a beach in Bali as a white-bearded man, watching the waves, God wishes that Dean would hold onto his faith. He wishes Dean could still see the simple key of his own redemption. He wishes Castiel could see it. And He is at once surprised and not surprised that it is now Sam who has begun to reconnect to the answer.
Everyone involved in the Apocalypse--Sam and Dean and Castiel and Bobby, Zachariah and Michael and Lucifer, even Joshua--have made it out to be something much bigger and more complicated than it has ever been. The problem, answer, and inevitable outcome are too simple for them to accept. God wonders how they fail to see it staring at them so clearly in the face, considering it hasn't changed since the very beginning. The issue has been the same since Sam and Dean were each born, since before they were conceived, since before Mary and John Winchester even knew each other, let alone fell in love and married.
Lucifer and Michael, though they would never be able to see it through their own self-importance, have little to do with it. The angels and demons following their own agendas have nothing to do with it. And even Team Free Will, as the Winchesters have called themselves and Castiel and Bobby, misunderstands the bottomline of this so-called Apocalypse. It was never about saving the world. The world will end when God decides, and if this were the time, it would have already taken place.
No, this is about one thing and one thing only: the love of Sam and Dean.
Ash, funny character that he is, got it right when he welcomed the Winchester brothers into his heavenly version of the Roadhouse. These two men have been soul mates for thousands of years, since the beginning of time, since before their souls were created. And everything that has taken place in their lives has led them to this point: to answering the ultimate question of whether they will choose their love or not.
God remembers a time, not so long ago, when Sam and Dean could grasp this bottomline with more clarity and ease. Somewhere along the way, through losing their father and Sam's death in Wyoming and Dean's deal and Dean going to Hell and coming back from Hell and Sam's fall from grace, they lost sight of this most basic reality upon which their lives have always mutually depended. This is all right. It is what God intended--because when the time comes to make their choice, to choose each other over all the Universe, they will finally see it again. They will see it with more clarity than ever before. They will stand in defiance of the most powerful beings in creation aside from God himself, in defiance of the whole human race, and they will complete the circle their parents started. They will know their own love in its truest and most powerful essence.
It is not Michael or the angels or even God that will "save the world." It is Sam and Dean. Through no other gesture than to say: No. No, to all which asks them to forsake their love. It is through saying Yes to each other that they will be triumphant.
And if Dean could remember that simple truth from all the way back in his childhood, if Castiel would stop looking up at God and start looking over at his friends, and if Sam could let go of his guilt and desperation and open himself again to what his brother's always offered him.... well, none of them would spend much more time tormenting themselves. And this "apocalypse" would come to an end very quickly.
God, on that beach in Bali, closes his eyes and feels the ocean breeze against his wrinkled and weathered face. He smells the salty air. He listens to the tide lapping on the shore. The sky above the water is an expanse of magenta and periwinkle and violet, the sun already swallowed up in dusk. He sits still for a long time and absorbs the beauty of his own creation. Somewhere in America, Sam and Dean sit across from each other in a diner booth, eating brunch in broody silence. Castiel zips along on his own mournful wandering over the globe. Bobby sleeps in his bed at home in South Dakota. All of them opens hopeless.
God opens his eyes: a bright and ethereal blue. He lingers on the view for a moment, then stands up and turns away from it.
Just before He disappears to some new place and some new form, He smiles.
He smiles because He did not create Sam and Dean Winchester to quit loving each other.