Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Day 92.

How do I become fearless? In a world where everything is mixed-up, uncertain, and upside down, how does one come to a place of perfect peace? Even the peace that passes all understanding? I once knew someone who claimed to be completely fearless. He wanted to jump out of planes, drive fast, climb mountains. He said the only thing he feared was going back into the sins God had saved him from, and to that end, his relationship with Christ was the most important thing in his life.

I’m not interested in jumping out of planes, or ever coming to a place where I would want to, but I would like to be confident that God’s plans for my future are good. No, not just good, the best possible outcome for my life. The Bible says, “he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” He will be faithful to complete that which He started. And yet, I find myself worrying about what happens next. What does my future look like? Where will God take me? How can I know His will, His path? My 28th birthday is already in my past, and I’m antsy for God’s ultimate plan to unfold in front of me.
People continue to encourage me that things are going to be amazing on the other side of this, I’ll admit, around 4am when I’m up in the middle of the night, desperate for sleep, I have my doubts. But this is when I have to pull out my proverbial check list of answered prayers.

God really has done amazing things in my life. He has proved Himself faithful again and again. I can’t even count all the blessings, even miracles that He has brought into my life. There’s a song called “Let the Waters Rise” by Mikeschair and I love the lyric that says, “God, You know where I've been, You were there with me then, You were faithful before, You'll be faithful again.” That’s why I have to trust Him. I can’t be afraid of what’s coming because ultimately, He will always be faithful.

There’s still so much to sift through, so much to yet endure before the clouds roll away and allow the sun to shine. I’m trying to be brave, to have courage in the face of what I’m most scared of. This is where I lean on Him. This is when He will prove Himself.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Keys. By definition: something that affords a means of access; something that secures or controls entrance to a place. 

Every now and then, on this journey, someone hands me a key. I never know where the key will come from; I usually don’t seek it out. And most of the time, I don’t even know I should be looking for one. Allow me to mix my metaphors. It’s as if I started out in complete and total darkness, and each time I open a new door, there is a very little bit of light, like dawn easing in over the horizon, almost imperceptible. Because the little bit of light is such an improvement over absolute darkness, I have no frame of reference for greater light still. There is a sense that I’ve opened all possible doors and now it’s just a matter of walking forward, but I’ve thought that before, only to be handed another key and in an instant, be walking in more light.

Keys are of great importance in the Bible. Isaiah says, “And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” Then, this prophecy is stated again in Revelation, “he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” Christ proclaims, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” And, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” Yes, the right key can make all the difference.

Truly in my life, especially in the last few months, the right keys have been invaluable. Doors that have been locked for years, bolted shut, are suddenly open, casting new light on the path I must walk. With each open door, the path becomes more difficult. But now I can see some of the obstacles.

I know I'm being vague, all this talk of keys and paths and dawning light. There are things better left unsaid for now. But, in God's timing, when the last door is thrown open and I am greeted by the brilliant light of the sun at it's highest point, I will testify to the glory of God of the darkest moments I've ever known. I will have the keys of the kingdom of heaven, just as Jesus promised. So by faith, I move forward today.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

He Leadeth Me

Day 82.

I will admit, these past few days have been some of the hardest yet. I have found myself completely consumed with the most unsettling emotion of all: Apathy. I’m sure you’ve all noticed my absence in the blogging world, and from past experience you know my silence speaks volumes. A wave of hopelessness swept over my soul in light of certain events at the beginning of this week. All of my motivation to move forward escaped me like a mournful sigh, and the urge to lay down and quit trumped all other thoughts and feelings. Like a zombie, I shuffled through the dark days and found little relief in the night. I thought I was encountering the new “normal.” And I couldn't see past my own dismal perception. Yes, it was a most difficult week.

It is in times of reflection, such as this, I am aghast at my lack of spiritual maturity. My faith is so small. My trust is so fleeting. My confidence is nonexistent. I can speak the words to others in difficult situations, but when the tables are turned, I cannot accept the words myself. Truly, as the hymn implies, I am a wretch saved only by grace so amazing. My shortcomings as a follower of Christ are innumerable, and while I should have enough confidence to simply trust and obey, I begin to question and second-guess everything. Just when I think I have “arrived” in this faith walk, I am challenged again, and again I see that I have a long way to go.

But then I am comforted by the knowledge that God knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. God does not expect me to be God. He expects me to be human. Which is good, because He made me a human and there's not a thing I can do about it. After all, no matter how hard I think about it, I can't even add one cubit unto my stature. No, I have to let God be God and I have to let myself be a human being. That means that I cannot know everything there is to know, and so I should probably stop stressing out about it. My Heavenly Father knows what I need, He will give me as much light as I need to walk and my only obligation is to move forward in all the light I'm given.

So even though I have so very much to learn (and that's so humbling), I can be excited about the fact that I AM learning. God hasn't given up on me, so I can't give up on me either. Even when I don't feel like it, I must put one foot in front of the other. I can't see where I'm going yet, but I know I'm being led by the Master. Yes, it was a hard week, but my spirit is rallying and my commitment to God has never been stronger. As Joseph H. Gilmore so beautifully wrote, “He leadeth me, He leadeth me, by His own hand He leadeth me; His faithful follower I would be, for by His hand he leadeth me.” This is all I need to know as I travel that path He has planned for me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Oh For Grace to Trust Him More

Day 76.

It is my human-ness that desires a clear understanding of everything I go through. I need to grasp the “why” behind the suffering. I need to lay my hands on the tangible. And yet, it is that very human-ness that limits me.

I can't fully explain what all has taken place over the course of these past months. I do not have a big-picture perspective yet. I cannot see the world through God's eyes. I cannot see myself and my circumstances objectively. But I do know that something God-ordained passed through His loving fingers and came swiftly and undeniably on my life. It moved in like a plague of locusts, taking everything I had to give. And I, a servant of the living God, can only hold my hands up in surrender.

This past weekend, I encountered an eye in this storm. It was a precious and sacred moment when I knew God was speaking to my heart. I had been agonizing over something I needed to do to bring me a sense of closure in all the turmoil. But I struggled. I knew what must be done, but I so badly wanted to make the right decision. Hours in the darkness I tossed and turned, moving from my bed to my couch, desperate for rest. God was asking me to do something for myself that I felt I wasn't strong enough to do. I was fearful. I wanted someone else to do it. I felt like they had the authority to do it, and I knew they would buffer the pain, if there must be pain involved. Somewhere in the morning, I felt a sense of clarity in my prayers. “God,” I said, “if I do it myself, I have no authority and I have no buffer.” To which God replied, “I AM your authority and I will be your buffer.” Before that moment, I didn't know if I would recognize God's voice if I ever heard it again. I thought maybe I would always second-guess, always wonder. But God has a way of making Himself known.

Though God spoke when I needed to hear Him so desperately, He did not take the pain away. He did not change my circumstances to suit my tastes. He did not wave His hand and fix all that was broken. He did not restore that which the locusts had eaten. He spoke. And in an act of trust and obedience, I listened. In faith, I did what I knew I was being asked to do. Truly God was all the authority I needed. And though pain has come from my actions, it was accompanied with a sense of His peace, a buffer from the worst of it.

No, I do not have a clear understanding or an earthly explanation, but I do know that as for God, His way is perfect. So says the psalmist, and so I believe. In His time, God will take the pain away, change my circumstances, fix that which is broken, and restore the years that the locusts have eaten. I must trust Him. That is what I must learn through it all. I must trust Him.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Amazing Grace

For several months, I have written a short article for my company’s eNewsletter that goes out about three times a month.  These are usually articles about money management and mismanagement.  But every now and then, I write something that hits a little closer to the heart.  The following article appeared in our July 22nd, 2011 eNewsletter.  I think you’ll appreciate why I felt I should post it here.

Amazing Grace  (As published July 22nd, 2011 in the Community Foundation of Grant County’s eNewsletter)
“I'm lookin’ at ghosts and empties…”  -Paul Simon
Over the course of the last few days I have been to Graceland about 87 times with Paul Simon.  I’m not sure what draws me back to that car, riding along the Mississippi Delta.  I am not experiencing a loss of love, or a personal crisis.  In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever been so pleased with my life and the potential I see laid out in front of me.  And yet, I keep going back to that YouTube page, cranking up the volume, and listening to the story that’s nothing at all like my own, and yet so familiar in its description of life--somehow, we’re all just bouncing into Graceland.
Dave says, “Not until the pain of the same is greater than the pain of change will you embrace change.”  Don’t you hate that?  Why is it that change is a product of pain?  It’s as common to the human experience as getting out of bed in the morning.  Even the Bible says, “we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.”  It’s the theme of every good movie, book, and story across the ages.  Conflict and resolution-that’s what makes up the living part of life. 
For example:  My best friend had her life pretty well mapped out when she graduated from high school.  (Didn’t most of us!)  She was going to the perfect school, she was planning the perfect career, everything had been set up as if the world revolved around her hopes and dreams.  But when the bills came due and the money ran out, the world stopped spinning and she fell flat on her face.  Big time.  She looks back now at that moment in her life and recognizes it for what it was, a Gracepoint.  She learned what it was like to work her way through college and pay cash.  She enjoys a debt free lifestyle and has opportunities to share her experiences with others.  Sure, at the time she felt like she was falling flying or tumbling in turmoil.  But that Gracepoint changed her life.
Are you going through a Gracepoint?  Maybe it has nothing to do with money.  Maybe it has everything to do with money.  Maybe it has everything to do with your kids, your marriage, your job, your church, you plans for your future.  Maybe it’s intensely personal.  Maybe it’s dramatically public.  Whatever it is, only you know what it feels like.  Only you can understand its depth.  And only you can seize the opportunity to embrace the change.  And so today, my fellow gazelles, let me offer you a generous serving of hope.  Keep your chin up.  I’m proud of you and I know that you’re going to make it!  And  maybe I've a reason to believe we all will be received in Graceland.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Someone Carried Me

Day 72

What a strange journey this had been. The valleys have been so low, I never thought I would see daylight. The hills have been so slight, at times I barely recognized them. But I know I’m moving forward. Even if it’s not fast enough to suite me.
I know it’s been far too long since I’ve posted a blog. I was on a bit of a blogging hiatus while I pieced together some information. I have also been seeking some professional treatment that is helping me process this whole thing. I am learning so much. About how the mind works. About myself. About God. I am learning a level of trust that I have never even fathomed. I am learning a level of grace that has never been in my personal doctrine. I am learning how to confront fear with power, and love, and a sound mind. I am learning about love on a whole new level.
Yes, love. In some ways, this has been the most eye-opening experience concerning love. Such love. Such wondrous love. Love that will not let me go. I have learned that I am surrounded by people who love me. You've never seen a person more saturated with genuine, abounding, all-consuming love. And I think, I must know what it felt like to be the “one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.” This is a man who could not get himself to Jesus. He was sick, needed Jesus' healing touch, but he couldn't walk, all he could do was lie there. But he had these four friends. These guys knew where Jesus was, and had the faith to believe Jesus could heal him. When they got to the house where Jesus was preaching, it was so full they couldn't get in. So, (and this is the best part) being determined that Jesus should see their friend and heal him, they got onto the roof, made a hole, and lowered him down right at the feet of Christ.
When I went through my first bout with major depression about six years ago, I wrote a song about this very story. I feel it applies to my life more than ever at this time. May it speak to your heart tonight.
Someone Carried Me

Vs. 1
I can't walk
And I can't move
And sometimes I feel that I can barely breathe
And when my God seems most far away
Still I find that I am at the Master's feet
But a lame man doesn't walk
No a lame man doesn't walk
Oh a lame man doesn't walk alone

I have waded through the storms of life
That thundered over me
I've been tangled in the hopelessness
And struggled to be free
I've done battle with the darkness
In the valley on my knees
But when I couldn't carry on
Someone carried me

Vs. 2
I can't see
The darkness closes in
And I wonder if I'll ever find my way
I take the hand that's reaching out to me
And suddenly I'm in the light of day
But a blind man doesn't see
No a blind man doesn't see
Oh a blind man doesn't see alone

Somebody called my name
In a quiet, secret place
Somebody brought my pain
Before the throne of grace
Somebody loved me so
Compassion overflowed
Somebody saw my need
Somebody carried me

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Deeper Still

"We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still." -Betsie Ten Boom

Day 68.

 I feel like a rat in a labyrinth. I find myself running frantically down long and narrow corridors, turning down hallway after hallway, desperately seeking a key to unlock the next door.  And as keys come into my hands, sometimes from the most unlikely sources, I am able to open more and more locks. But none of the doors lead me out. They only lead me deeper. Deeper I go into the depth of the struggle. Deeper I go into the depth of the pain. I want to claw at the walls, but there's only one way out, and scramble as I might, I can't get to it fast enough.

Truth is bubbling to the surface of my soul, and it's not a pleasant truth, but a painful truth. The right words at the right time. The right keys in the right doors. Chasms of uncharted pain, un-granted forgiveness, unredeemed territory. Back and forth I pace the halls, wringing my hands, wiping my eyes. Back and forth my mind bounces from one thought to the next conclusion, from matters of the mind to matters of the soul, from my aching stomach to my aching heart. Am I here by design or here by discipline? Could I have avoided this place or was I destined to pass through here?

Something akin to madness creeps into my thoughts, seeps down my throat, and settles decidedly in my gut. There is no sleep to escape to, no destination to run to, no structure to hide behind. Hopelessness finds me like a fast moving tide, up to my knees, my waist, my chin. “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Tonight, I am closer to the bedrock than I've ever been. There's so much, dear readers, so much that cannot be explained, expressed, revealed. I am on the verge of a break through or a break down. I am overwhelmed with revelation as God has been moving in the secret places of my heart, drawing things up into the light that have been forgotten long ago in the darkness. Everything must be re-examined, inspected, confronted. The healing process is painful as the spiritual attack kicks in at its most intense. I cannot feel the presence of God. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?”

And yet, I know, somewhere in my head and mostly in my heart, He is with me. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” He will not leave me here. He is going to deliver me safely to the other side. But we must go through the valley. Though I cannot see the other side, I must turn my eyes upon Jesus and allow Him to truly be my comforter. Every unlocked door is progress in the right direction. The depth feels overwhelming, but God is deeper still.  Be encouraged. We're finally getting somewhere. It won't be much longer now.