“My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” – Psalm 42:3
A Breaking Heart
The thing about a breaking heart is, it is the very first step toward restoration of fellowship with God. “When shall I come and appear before God? Ps. 42:1 – When tears have become your food.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
When you come to the altar to reconcile with God, know that no matter how eloquent you wax, what God is looking for is your broken spirit.
When I Am Finally Weak
It is when you have dropped dead of thirst in your wilderness and begin to cry out for the Hand of the Savior that you are really of any use to God. It is through the admission of your weakness and despair that the strength of God is admitted into your heart.
WHERE IS YOUR GOD?
He is the one who is holding you to his breast while you cry; So go ahead and cry. Cry well and thoroughly. Just as your tears restore your sanity, so does your broken heart restore you to the Living God.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Jesus, Book of Matthew 11:28-30
In my heart, I am thirsty for you, the living God.
When will I see your face?
Psalm 42:1 & 2 – CEV
Are You in that Wilderness?
Have I come to that place in my heart that I can say, “Enough!”? Has my rebellion against the will and way of God driven me far enough afield that my thirst for God has overpowered me? Have I come to my senses and finally seen that MY way has led me into the wilderness?
If I Thirst…
If I thirst, is it because my willfulness and rebellion has led me away from the source of “Living Water“? Only when I stray will I know this kind of thirst. One I have drunk the Living Water, noting else will satisfy. If the cup is not at my lips, it is because I have put it down. It is not the father who has made me thirsty, it is my rebellion.
We are all going to die someday. Where will you go when you die? The Bible teaches us how we can know for sure that when we die we will go to heaven. There are 4 things we must know to be able to go to heaven when we die.
1. We are sinners. As the Bible says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Sin is falling short of God’s perfection. Everyone has sinned many times in life. We have all lied, or stolen, or cheated, or done something wrong at some time in our lives. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10).
2. We deserve Hell. Realize that there is a punishment for being a sinner, and that punishment is death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Not only a physical death, but also a spiritual death. The place of spiritual death is called Hell. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rom. 21:8). There is probably no person alive who can say that they never told a lie. We all have sinned and we all deserve the punishment of Hell for our sin.
3. Jesus died for our sins. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Jesus willingly went to the cross, shed His blood, and died for our sins. He paid the price for our sins. He suffered the punishment that we deserve. When He was on the cross, Jesus suffered Hell for us. Hell is a place of total separation from God. When Jesus was on the cross, God the Father separated Himself from God the Son. That is why Jesus cried out “with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus was experiencing separation from God the Father. He was suffering the Hell that we deserve. He was paying for our sins.
4. We must receive Christ by faith. In order to become a Christian, it is not enough to know that we are sinners, that we deserve Hell, and that Christ died for our sins, but we must receive Christ by faith. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8,9).
Notice that we cannot earn our way to heaven. We obtain salvation through faith, not by works. Faith basically boils down to placing your trust in something or someone. If you are sitting down while reading this, you are placing your faith or trust in the chair that you are sitting upon. Faith requires more than just an intellectual belief; it involves an action of your will. For example, if there were a pond covered with ice, and there were people standing around saying that the ice could hold them up, but they were not willing to walk on the ice, then they would only be demonstrating an intellectual belief and not faith. If they stepped out onto the ice, they would be demonstrating faith.
One can place their faith in Christ by simply calling out to Him in prayer, for the Bible says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” I expressed faith in Christ by sincerely praying a prayer like this:
“Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. I deserve Hell. Thank you for dying for my sins. Save me. Come into my life. Make me the kind of person that you want me to be. I thank you that you have and that you will take me to heaven when I die. Amen.”
If you sincerely pray that prayer with all your heart, then the Lord Jesus will come into your life and forgive your sins, and save you from an eternity of Hell. If you were to die tomorrow, you would go to heaven. Not because you are good enough to get there, but because you have received the payment of your sins. It is that simple.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (Jn 5:24)
I am dismayed to find that many of what I consider my most endearing charms are not listed.
Take Sarcasm for example.
My first awareness of sarcasm was when I was about 4 or 5. We lived in Shreveport, Louisiana. Louisiana in the summer is not a treat. It was the early 1960’s, our Chevrolet Biscayne didn’t have air conditioning (yet, Dad later added it, but that, too is another blog, under the heading of, “How On Earth Did I Survive My Childhood?”).
Mom was careful to not use expletives around us kids, but she had a whole raft of colorful metaphors that covered her cussing. Dad taught us many of them, and Mom used them liberally. The family favorite was “Toot Blossom”.
Mom had taken me with her to the grocery store.
We left the Piggly-Wiggly store, and were on our way home. Mom was already angry because for the exorbitant price of $55.00, we only got 20 bags of groceries.
On top of that, the traffic in Shreveport, Louisiana was bad. Mom was trying to merge into I-20 traffic.
In the South, you take the on-ramp, get up to Highway speed, and merge with oncoming traffic. You let on-coming traffic know your intentions with the blinker. An oncoming driver dove into our lane just as we were merging. Mom had to swerve to the shoulder to keep from getting hit. She slammed on the brakes and said, “My stars and garters, that idiot nearly hit us!”, then she shouted at the offender, “TOOT-BLOSSOM!!!!”.
That is not the sarcasm part, although it did set the stage for what happened next.
We were sitting on the shoulder of the road, re-gathering our wits. The windows were down, and because we were not moving, we began to bake like potatoes at a Baptist Luncheon. The dirt from the road hadn’t even settled around our car when I told Mom in a very demanding voice, “I’m thirsty!”.
I had fantasies of getting a cold bottle of coke. (In the south, every carbonated beverage is called “coke”. It is only when you make your purchase that you get into the discriminatory categories of which one you mean.)
Mom slowly turned around to glare at me as I stood in the back seat of the Biscayne (Life was simpler back then. No seat belts. No one cared if you bounced all over the car as your parents careened from post to gate in their land yachts. If you lived long enough to get your license after all that bouncing, everyone figured you could be trusted to drive. After all, you already understood the physics of inertia and speed.)
Mom glared at me after I pronounced the depths of my thirst. She asked me, “What do you want me to do, spit in your mouth? Because that’s as close as you’re going to get to anything to drink before we get home!” She slammed the car in gear and sped off, daring any other careening toot-blossoms out there to try to ram her. She gave me a lot of visual imagery to think about as I bounced all over the car and quelled my disappointment. I decided as I ricochet off the rear window of the Biscayne, that guided sarcasm is a powerful weapon in the right hands.
WHAT FRUITS MAY BEAR
My other endearing gifts are a critical spirit and anger. I am a glass half empty kind of guy, and am willing to fight over it. I managed to perfect these gifts, as I tend to think I am an overachiever when it comes to some things.
The down side to all these amazing attributes is, you really do reap what you sow.
I fought a lot when I was in High School. My toot-blossom got stomped too many times, so I studied the Martial Arts. It helped me win fights, but did nothing to reduce the number of them. I took more beatings than I handed out.
I used to think all that fighting was because I was only one of about 7 or 8 “hippies” in Brownwood, Texas. Brownwood is a small cattle town in central Texas. I tell people Brownwood is where men are men, women are few and sheep are nervous. (See, Sarcasm!)
I drove a multi colored Volkswagen, had long hair, and didn’t play football or do rodeo. In Brownwood, if you are a male, and you do not do these things, then you are considered gay. I stacked the deck against myself, too, because I was Drum Major of the band for about 4 years, and held office in the Drama Club. I performed in musicals, took piano lessons and wrote horrible poetry. So, I wasn’t doing myself any favors at all.
I also used to think the fights were because, while all the Football players were busy calling me a fag, I was messing around with their girlfriends. When I got caught in the act with someone’s girlfriend, the red neck that caught me would shout at me, “Hey, Faggot, what the hell do you think you are doing!?!?!?”. I was dismayed because, traditionally, gay males do not engage in flagrant fornication with females. I mean, if you can’t figure out what you’re looking at, then you need your daddy to discuss the birds and bees with you.
I added insult to injury by explaining my thinking with him.
After he suggested a bout of intercourse, (he actually said something that starts with an F, and ends with a U) I replied, “No thanks, I prefer females!” Which, in my mind, if a red neck is offering to have intercourse with you, it may explain the whole girlfriend issue.
You can use martial arts with your pants around your ankles, but it isn’t easy.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS FRUIT
It has taken me 57 years to discover that my ways are not God’s ways, my thoughts are not God’s thoughts, and if I am ever going to learn to be like Jesus, I need to spend more time learning the scriptures, praying, and getting out of my way, so the Lord can get IN my way. I have especially learned that there is nothing I can do for myself that will make me be like Him. I actually have to die to myself in order that Christ will manifest in me.
Die to self. What a concept. It is especially a risky proposition considering that I suffer from depression. I haven’t always been depressed. Depression has manifest itself more and more over these last 24 years. I have actually considered suicide as an option.
As bad as I think things are, though, I still belong to God through Jesus Christ. I figured I will put off suicide so I can see why God is allowing me to go through this trial.
God has steadfastly said, “There is a reason for it.”
THIS IS WHY I AM WRITING THIS SERIES
God is using this time to teach me how He sees me. If you are going through this, I hope you read this.
I intend to share this with you because He sees you the same way.
I have come very close to making a decision that cannot be unmade. I am not there, yet, but I am standing on that precipice, and the wind of decision is blowing me hard towards that irretrievable abyss.
I am writing about this until I can tell you what it takes to get from here to where the fruit of the Spirit shines through both of us.
I am going to be open, honest, truthful, and frank, in hopes that I can urge you to do the same.
BEFORE YOU DECIDE
Yes, a Child of God can suffer from severe depression, in spite of what all the well-intentioned “Christians” tell you. Augustine, Martin Luther, the Apostle Paul and others suffered severe depression. Many great Christian leaders did. And God used them, and they knew joy.
Jesus was tempted in all ways, like us. Never lose sight of this.
Before you decide to end yourself, let’s sit a moment and think about other possibilities.
Let’s find out how we can get out of our own heads and into the life of Christ together.
Shall we explore?
Let’s be about it.
I love you in the name of Jesus Christ, who is our hope and salvation.
Another day has almost come and gone
Can’t imagine what else could go wrong
Sometimes I’d like to hide away somewhere and lock the door
A single battle lost but not the war
‘Cause tomorrow’s another day
And I’m thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain
– Jo Dee Messina & Tim McGraw – “Bring On The Rain”
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV
DAYS LIKE THIS
The Flight Attendant brought me a fresh, steaming cup of coffee. I had been up since 4:30 in the morning, and was on the last leg of travel that would get me to Chicago. I hoped the coffee would wake me up enough to make this final leg of my travels.
As the flight attendant hurried down the aisle of this tiny and overcrowded jet, I stirred in my sugar, and lifted the cup for a sip. Just as I did, the flight attendant came rushing back down the aisle, stopped suddenly next to my seat, and turned around to talk to another passenger. As she turned, she forgot to tuck her elbows in. Her right elbow struck the bottom of my coffee cup just as I was taking that first sip.
Hot coffee splashed all over my face, my glasses and my shirt. I cleaned up as best as I could under the circumstances, but reeked of airliner coffee the rest of the day. I was finally wide awake. The coffee had done its job.
Our flight landed and was delayed on the tarmac because the gate was still occupied by another jet.
After debarking, I headed to baggage claim B, where my ticket, and the flight attendant, said our bags would be found.
It took an additional 30 minutes for the bags to get to the wrong baggage claim kiosk. I wouldn’t have discovered this if I had not heard another passenger ranting about how the bags ended up in the wrong place. The electronic board at baggage claim happily claimed that my bags would be at claim B, even though the bags were being offloaded somewhere else.
The delay of the jet getting to the gate on time, and the confusion in baggage caused a delay in getting to the shuttle for the hotel. I ran as fast as a fat guy could run, but arrived only to see the tail pipe of the hotel shuttle bus speeding away. I called the hotel. They said they will send the shuttle back, but I would have to wait.
Two hours later, the shuttle returned. On my way to the hotel, I was lectured on what the shuttle schedule is, and why it is important to be on time. It would have been pointless to tell the driver about my adventures with the airline.
While I was in training class, my computer crashed and had to be replaced with another one. After that, the software we were learning how to use kept failing to do what it was advertised to be able to do. In order for me to complete my training labs, I had to shut down the program frequently, restart, and continue on where I left off.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!
Before I left for my trip to Chicago, my company issued cell phone decided that it needed to reboot itself repeatedly then die. It is now dead. I get a “New” one this Monday.
LIFE LIKE THIS
During a lull in training, I thought about these things. The cell phone, the coffee, the baggage, the hotel shuttle, and the computer issues. It occurred to me that my life is generously peppered with little events like this.
Lately, it seems as if my life has been one interesting event after another, peppered by occasional bouts of normalcy. The frequency of these interesting events has increased ever since I started my job at this internationally famous company. I do NOT hold them responsible. I merely use this event as a time marker that earmarks when things really started getting even more interesting in my life.
My boss wrote me, regarding this run of “luck” I seem to be having, and asked,
“David, Have you always gone through life with that little cloud over your head that follows you everywhere? Eleanor (A co-worker who issues our phones) and I were talking about you…and all the things you have had to endure since you have been with us. Satan is really trying to trip you up, isn’t he?”
IT IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT
The Chinese symbol for crisis is shown here. It is two symbols meaning “Danger” and “Opportunity”. They occur simultaneously. How you handle them is what determines if it is a crisis or not.
Jesus never said that becoming his disciple would protect us from life’s circumstances. – Jim Richards, “How To Stop The Pain”
Even Jesus was tempted in every way we are all tempted. In Matthew 18:7 Jesus said, “It is necessary that temptation comes.”
The opportunity my circumstances bring me is the chance to allow the Spirit of God to work in my life, making me a light and disciple of Christ.
The danger is that I will not.
That is not how the bumper sticker says it, but you get my drift.
I used to get seriously angry at all these little paper cuts. I am learning, through experience with the Holy Spirit, that blowing up only means I get to do it all over again.
I handle big events rather well. It is the little, niggling, “dogs chewing at my shoes” events that tend to bring out my worst.
Even though God Himself tempts no man, God is not going to stop problems from coming your way any more than He prevented them from happening to Jesus.
We are not better than our master.
How we deal with circumstances is what tells the rest of the world how much we really believe Christ changes our lives.
There is a season for everything under the sun.
This season of interesting events lead me to either cling to God in faith, or curse God for allowing them to happen. It all depends on how well I chose to understand what the Bible actually says about pain and suffering.
Whether these temptations are genuinely from Satan or are just life happening becomes a moot point. Jesus said, “Woe to the world for such temptations to sin and influence to do wrong.” And “Woe to the person on whose account or by whom these temptations comes!”
The World and Satan are in league with each other in that, if they have to go to hell, then so do the rest of us.
If I have said I do not have to go to hell on account of Jesus and his finished work on the cross, then I have told the World and Satan they can stuff their ambitions for my life.
Satan and the World do not like it when a sheep tells them to stuff it. So they fight back.
We either trust our Shepherd to take care of us, or we don’t.
So…let there be clouds, and let it rain…I was thirsty anyway!
Romans 8:28King James Version (KJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Let’s be about it!
Love always, and it’s good to be back in the blogosphere.
…and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.John 17:23b
A co-worker asked me how I know what faith feels like. I got crickets…well, at first, I did. I wasn’t sure what to tell him. It dawned on me that having faith, and being able to explain the joy of it, are two different things. I could wax rhapsodic about the glorious feeling I get inside when I consider what happened at the great exchange on the cross. I could explain to him the famous verse about faith:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
But that would be using the word I am trying to define in the definition. That kind of circular reasoning will not give a real answer. This guy has a very high IQ, and is more often looking for an argument in which to showcase his intelligence. I do not want to get into that kind of thing. It would be pointless and frustrating.
I was left with the proverbial problem of trying to describe the color orange to a blind man. Then I remembered I was once blind to faith, too. I was blinded to the things of God, and wanted to understand them, just like this guy does. Like him, I had God in a box, I new more than anyone else, and had very little patience with the cretins around me who had no idea about anything. How do I explain faith to someone who is like this?
The Root of the Matter
I told my coworker I will only answer in the context of what the Bible has to say about faith, but needed time to frame an answer. His immediate reaction was to tell me he doesn’t want to hear my religious point of view, but only wants a philosophical discussion.
I recognize an evasive maneuver when I see one. I used to use this very argument when I was under conviction, and was afraid the answer would get too real for me to handle. Fear drives that sort of thinking.
I needed God to show me how to get past the wall of fear this guy has constructed so I can show him what faith looks like. I knew that the only thing to do was give this to God and wait for Him to show me how to explain faith.
I asked God to open my eyes, and the eyes of my coworker, so we could both see what God wants to show us both about faith.
IN THE MEAN TIME
The company I work for sent me to Richmond, Virginia for training. At the end of the week would be a final exam. The brochure made it clear that the exam period is 8 hours. The company booked my flight to leave right in the middle of the testing time. This was really bad timing. I would have to walk out during the middle of the test just to make my flight.
I called the home office and explained my situation. Their answer was that it would cost too much to reschedule my flight, and, besides, one of my peers claimed to have taken the test in one hour, so I shouldn’t have a problem doing the same thing.
I checked with the instructor about the testing times. He explained that no one in the history of this test has ever completed it in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes. I called the home office back and told them what the instructor said. The answer was a very firm “no”. It was made very clear to to me that there was no way the flight would be changed. I would just have to work it out to be done with the test in time to leave for the airport.
Within two hours of our praying, I got an e-mail from the home office telling me that my flight was rescheduled from Friday to Saturday. The solid and resounding “NO!!!” had been turned into a “But of course we can!” after Sandy and I prayed.
When I got the e-mail, I nearly cried. God had moved the hearts of the people on my behalf. Once again, God had come through in a situation where the world had said it was not possible.
I felt complete in Him through this. I felt assurance of His love for me that His promise is true: Philippians 4:6-7 – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Even in the little things, God shows His love and care. For the first time in my existence, I felt what it is like to know the love of a caring father. This is why it is so easy to trust Him. He cares. He loves. He demonstrates that love in the most remarkable ways. It is when things are really frustrating that God is able to reveal something that I would have otherwise missed. All I have to do is remember to trust him with my circumstances.
It is easy to have faith in one whose love is complete and unconditional.
THERE WAS MY ANSWER
It dawned on me that God had opened my eyes. Again, He revealed Himself. Perfect love casts out all fear. It is easy to have faith in one who loves you completely and demonstrates that love so freely. God’s perfect love casts out all my fears. When the world says no, God says, yes.
WHAT DOES FAITH FEEL LIKE?
Faith feels like love.
This Love fills me with reckless abandon toward the things of God.
Faith feels fearless, Charles.
That is what faith feels like.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27
This morning, I wrote in my journal. While I was writing, I realized I was not writing what was genuinely and truthfully on my heart, but what I thought would be pleasing to God. I was fishing for brownie points.
I stopped writing what I was writing and began writing what was on my heart.
I decided to share this with you because I know you are going through this, too.
Remember, every situation, no matter how difficult, is here for a reason.
I dedicate this to my friend, who is hurting right now. I pray for you and for answers that make sense. You know who you are.
***** From My Journal*****
Eph 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
I wonder how quiet the world would be if we heeded this advice?
Do I speak just to hear myself speak? Is my speech such that others are blessed by it?…
We interrupt this diatribe so we can speak honestly about what is on our hearts.
Dear Lord God,
Why am I going around this mountain again?
What lesson is in this that I need to learn?
What part of yourself and your character are you trying to reveal and integrate into me?
Making pearls means having to deal with discomfort. Through our discomfort, we learn to apply the character of God to the situation. The end result is a thing of beauty.
So, I do not mind the discomfort as much as I object to my own ignorance.
Clear my mind, Lord, and prepare my heart for what it is you are working in my life. If my discomfort leads me to lead others to your Cross, then let’s make this time count.
I trust you , Lord, that your word is true when you said:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
(Rom 8:28 NASB)