I’d like to tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a stupid kid swimming in the ocean [This stupid kid was me]. The water was nice, so the kid swam out, curious and having fun. [Oh, experimentation!] The water got deeper, it was salty and blue-green. [It was entirely possible that this ocean was 100 proof, the salt may have been amphetamine-related and the plankton definitely contained THC] The stupid kid realized he was too far from shore [reality] and his feet couldn’t touch. Naturally he started treading water, but his energy gave out after a long time [Far too long] His muscles shut down, his head dipped under water, and he started sinking. [ To rock bottom] His lungs filled with water as he cried for help. [Too bad he didn’t have any friends] And at that moment, he gave up, and resigned to the fact, that he would never see the surface again. At the last moment, he thought to lift his hand to the surface. Though no one could see his hand.. In fact he knew for certain, there was no one nearby. All the same, he lifted his hand [as so often we do, even though we expect no assistance] At that moment, he blacked out. And he woke up on the shore. Coughing and sputtering, he looked up and saw the sun shining down. He could have attributed his survival to his own rapid swimming. But he knew the surface had been too far. He could have claimed he gathered his might, and made it to the shore on his own power. But he had not. [In fact, he had given up] But at that moment when he had given up, he had hoped after hope, just for a moment, that something could save him and lifted his hand to it [God, help me] To his incredible surprise, a hand had pressed into his. As the stupid boy lay on the sandy beach, he spotted a ladder reaching up into the sky. It had seemed at that moment, that it might possibly be a good idea to climb those steps. [There were twelve] So he started climbing. And to his surprise, as he reached the twelfth step, a new set of twelve would appear, reaching higher into the sky, and higher, and higher. [And so living truly began] The End.
I was talking to an acquaintance of mine, a guy by the name of Charlie, Pastor of Downtown Mission Church. We were talking about the spiritual health of some mutual friends, and the topic came up of “God will never give you more than you can handle.” I’d heard the phrase many times before, and I had always fervently disagreed. To my welcome surprise, Pastor Charlie said, “I think God tends to routinely give you more than you can handle.”
And I’m a firm believer in just that. It’s nice to say “God will never give you more than you can handle.” But the truth is, at least for Charlie and I, it wasn’t until we had far more than enough that we were willing to consider a drastic alteration in personal perception of the universe, specifically, the fact of an all loving, purely merciful God in charge of everything. Very naturally, this mysterious God had given me far more than I could handle, for a very long, extended period of time until I could literally not take it anymore and I gave up and just rested on a factual and complete comprehension of how doomed I was.
Few will truly understand just how terrible the process of breaking someone is. I’d akin it to boot camp, how the drill sargeants break the trainees and build them up from the ground. However, this is only a small taste of the kind of death that occurs in a spiritual breaking process. The process within boot camp is physical and more, mental. However, the process of spiritual breaking is, indeed, spiritual, complete, and utter. It is the snuffing out of hope completely.
For people like Charlie and I, we are greatly fortunate. Why fortunate? For two reasons, the first being the greater than the second. The first reason being, that God, the creator, the master, the divine entity in control of EVERYTHING saw fit to humble a screw up like me to a point so low, that I could do nothing but turn myself over completely to his loving care.
Why was this such an extreme and unlikely cure? Because I was so very, very, very stubborn and arrogant. More so than I could have ever realized, or even do realize today. I did not warrant such a long, drawn out journey to bottom, and up again. I didn’t deserve anything. It was an act of unmitigated mercy. And much more mercy than I would’ve shown someone else in the same situation. And as much as I had forced my way to the bottom, God had been there guiding the process, ensuring I didn’t step out in front of a car or fall off a bridge.
And I was so very fortunate to receive such a specific experience-based prescription for my confused head. Once again, why fortunate? The second reason is, because such a process of pure agony, despair, and insanity has a way of making a permanent mark on the mind. It clears the head. More importantly, it allows for a depth of compassion for those in similar circumstances, and a depth of desire to help those in need, not by drawing them up with my own hand out of the salt water, but to remind them just who can pull them up and set them safely on shore: God.
Once when I was probably 12 or 13 my younger sister and I were swimming in a pool. We were camping across the country with mom and dad. We were playing and rough housing, swimming around being kids. My sister and I didn’t exactly get along well at that age. We’d routinely play in the pool and get mad at each other and hold each other under the water. I remember she was holding me under the water (thanks sis) and I didn’t have much air when I went under, so I was scrambling and going crazy, trying to get to the top, but I couldn’t. It was so very scary. So. Very. Scary. I was terrified. I couldn’t get free though. I just couldn’t. Realizing that my air was out, and I couldn’t overpower her.. I gave up. I surrendered to the inevitable. I was doomed to a bubbly, chlorine water death. And I went limp. I just accepted my fate, I was going to drown. There it was. And naturally being a good sister, she spared me and let me up to the surface. I equate that feeling, of surrender, to the feeling of being at rock bottom. Total and utter acceptance of one fact: I’m never going to be OK again. It was utter resignation to my own inability to reach the surface, to ever handle my desperate drug addicted, alcoholic, depressive, post traumatic stress, miserable, defeated, suicidal situation.
And then boom… God. Naturally, the feeling of gratitude in retrospect is quite indescribable. And the desire to serve such a loving and merciful being, insatiable. Which is why I now study at Liberty University, to become a Pastor. Not because I was saved, or because life is so great now. But because a being, so incredibly loving, so incredibly caring, and so incredibly merciful, is one powerful word: Worthy.
Utterly and completely worthy of my time, love, commitment, service, and praise.
And if you can comprehend that… you can know a kind of love and fellowship, connection and union that is alien to humans who have not been there. This is why it’s so hard to convince an atheist or uninterested individual in the power of this one true God. There is nothing, absolutely nothing like it in the secular world. There is no frame of reference. There is no way to comprehend it. There is no way to intellectualize it or debate it. There is no way to lay out foundational proof. But once experienced first hand, there is an inevitable and inescapable conclusion of the mind: God is real. I cannot explain it or debate it to any individual who will not respond with an openness of possibility in the mind. In fact scripture says the message will seem ridiculous to those who haven’t received it. I have found this to be true in my own experience previously, and in the eyes of my friends who I try to tell it to.
I’ve seen the most intellectual and intelligent individuals turn from every possibility of it, yet claim to be open minded! So many minds will snap shut with the slightest mention of a God, or a man named Jesus Christ. It is programmed in from outside influence. And unfortunately breaching that perimeter is not possible for me to do on my own power. But there is a power who can breach that perimeter. That power is God, and as Christians we can plead to that power through a process called intercessory prayer. We step between a friend and disaster, and fall at our knees before God, passionately pleading for God to open up a mind to the possibility of truth itself. I can’t, God can. If you’re reading this, and you’re thinking of a friend who just can’t hear the message, the good news, there is an answer: intercede on their behalf. All we have to do is fold our hands and call out to God, and we are brought spiritually, right before his very throne!
How cool is that?
Jeremiah, the weeping prophet constantly prayed for his country and his people. He wept and pleaded with God constantly. We are called to do the same. So perhaps, with your brave and selfless intercession to the great and mighty Father of us all, your friend will be brought to a point of no return. Perhaps they will be brought to a point of total surrender. And then they will see and believe, that Jesus Christ is Lord, and they will finally know love and truth.
Intercession is a worthy task. I had praying Grandmothers, constantly interceding on my behalf. And now I’m OK. That is noteworthy to me. There are so many out there, who don’t have people who care enough to intercede on their behalf. Be the advocate of the lost before the throne of God! For me I can do nothing else, because this gift of Christ within is so profound, I can’t keep it to myself. I have to give it away, because it is so wonderful.
It’s an honor to have you reading my words. Until next time, God be with you 🙂