On Dec 9, God allowed one of those 'knock you to the ground kicks to your teeth' that left me in the dust. One day I will try to detail what I think happened- it is too soon to unravel now- and would require a lot of speculation at this point.
The bottom line is this- I woke up that Thursday morning with full confidence about where I will live, where I will work, and was routinely doing my daily tasks of getting better, teaching, and planning for the future. I went to bed on Thursday night not knowing anything about the next day, week, month, or year.
When life slaps you to the ground like that- there are a number of complex things going on- deep things. And it is not just about you- this effects an entire family and group of people- it impacts close friends- it creates a stir in the community.
My visual was of a big, red dragon that had just landed what he thought was a death blow and I was laying in the dust of debris- and he was bowed up and hovering over me, sneering, and challenging me - "What you going to do now? What you going to do now?"
The pain is real- the shame hangs like a banner- and the weariness and emptiness of life is so thick you taste it. The nights are lonely, even the sweetest wife a man has ever known eventually falls asleep- and all you have is the darkness there to accuse. I cried out for sleep and I yearned for mornings- but each tick of the clock was spent in despair.
Now the cool part- God shows up. He shows up in a real way. He shows up in a sincere way. But He does it His way. He is not there to rescue me from the immediate pain- He wants me to hurt for a little bit, He doesn't desert me, but He is no quick fixer on purpose.
The medicine is there - the comfort is there- the Spirit is there. But the purpose of the medicine is to allow the pain to go deep and settle for a bit. It has now been 39 days- and I am doing so much better- but the pain is still present- I just know how to live with it- I don't have to hide from it- and I no longer fear the nights- and I no longer fear the dreams- and I have very little fear of the future.
What helps? God does- but here are some of the details.
First, my family rushed to my side and hugged me and loved me and we embraced God's plan with confidence and courage. Part of the fruit of walking with Christ is that He gives us others. In my case it was my amazing wife and children. It was also genuine friends- God's on-earth ministers.
Second, was God's Word- I can't say enough of what a Spirit-breathed Word of comfort does to a wounded soul. God's Word has the right amount of anger, cries, pain, and promises for His people to successfully navigate these waters.
Third, the testimony of God's people. It wasn't long before I began to hear the stories. It seems like that between the ages of 30-50 God allows men especially to be kicked down by life- it may be cancer, divorce, bankruptcy, addiction, problem with children, joblessness- and the purposes of this is manifold. I heard great stories of how men would say' the best thing that ever happened to me' and I saw the sincerity in their eyes and heard the echo of pain in their voice. These were not men saying cliche's - these were men who saw my cracked heart and remembered. It wasn't "I told you so" it was "I know". And it all helped me.
I made a list of these men who rushed to me and supported me in words and deed. I will pray God's blessings for them for the rest of my life. I want to do the same for others in the future.
So, slowly, day by day- I got up. I exercised. I read the Word. I prayed. I listened to praise songs and good Christian music. I sent out my resume. I made phone calls. And Jesus never left me.
Going back to worship was also important, though we needed a new venue for a myriad of reasons. God allowed Brentwood Baptist to be there. The sermons were God directed and Spirit enforced. The ministry of the Word and music were fresh breeze in tattered sails.
Now the summary of all of this: through the music, sermons, Bible study, prayer, testimonies, I heard a clear and strong message from God....WAIT.
It was hammered home again today:
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40: 28-31
Ray Ortlund comments on this: "To wait for the Lord means to live in confident, eager suspense. It means to live with the tension of promises revealed but not yet fulfilled. This waiting is not killing time. It isn't sitting around, drumming your fingers. It is waiting on tip-toe, waiting with eager longing. It is forgetting what lies behind, straining forward to what lies ahead, and pressing on toward the goal (Philippians 3:13,14). It isn't erratic bursts of hyperactivity within a general pattern of boredom. It is steady, rugged progress, sustained by the conviction that the display of God's glory in Christ is yours."
So this is where I am. Learning how to sit still and wait yet remain in motion. A good friend gave me another visual... I am a running back and I have just received the hand-off- I am in slow motion and the line is blocking in front of me. I have to wait for the hole to open- but I have to be ready to hit that hole with all the explosion that I can muster.
My next post (in a few days?) will be about the decision grid I will be using to choose from the options I have before me. I am very grateful to have options.
When my enemy was hovering over me, baiting me, laughing at me, and accusing me "What are you going to do now?" I slowly stood up and replied, "I will trust my King. He is my Father and He loves me." And that dragon cursed and shrunk back in the darkness waiting on his next strike.
And so I wait.......God is good......