Monday, April 06, 2009

Giving Up Hope

I sat down to write about today and to try to explain everything that I possibly can. Please know that there is much I am not able to say because I am not the only one involved. I will try to share what is important. The facts and specifics are not nearly as important as the outcome. However, please don't ask what it is. I need to process this as much as I can. I will share in time. Some of you may know soon, some may not. My wife, my baby and Sylvia are all fine and I am not going to die of some strange disease. I realized that everything I could say has already been said many times before. I will try to be as brief as possible. Yeah right.

First: some back-story.

Suffice it to say that God has been using many different things and avenues to work in me and show me who He really is in the past few months (as if He wasn't before, I just started to notice). Much of that was comprised of this:

I watched a few convicting sermons, heard a song sent by a friend with lyrics that affirmed those thoughts, and I read a book, you can ask which later, that pretty much showed me that I was a big sham when it came to me and my relationship with God. So I started asking God to help me love Him more. I asked Him to help me actually love the person of Jesus as a Savior. Not love just the things He can do for me, not just love His people, not just love the things that He can and does provide for me, not just love the songs about Him, not just love the idea of Jesus, and not just love the idea of God…

…but to love Him.

I realized how silly it would be for me to love all the things that Mandy can do for me, or the way she makes me feel and the joy I feel when I am around her and not actually love her. It would be stupid and pointless. I would only love for what I can get out of the deal. My conversations would sound stupid and I would say things like "I love the dinner you made for me, I love the funny things you say, I love the way you encourage me."

But never say, "Mandy, I love you."

I don't know where you are in all of that. That may sound like you and where you are. I may sound like who you were. You may not be at that point. You may not even care, but this is my post and I'm telling the story. This is where I have been and this is the path I have been on.

Little did I know that my prayer would ever turn out this way.

There are times in life when we realize that things will never be the same after that and the truths that we held to be true aren't really that way at all. The day I heard about a co-worker of mine hanging himself was one of those times. For our nation, the last few months in the stock market have been that way. September 11th was one of those days. We thought things were ok, and we thought that life the way we knew it was a pretty safe reality. It only took a few short hours to realize that things were not that way at all. That life was short and that nothing is as secure as we thought.

Like one of those days in our history where things happen and we are never the same, I got news today that basically destroyed everything. In just a few words, a few moments, my heart became a wasteland of devastated flesh. I am like a victim suffering from shock. The world exploded and I am bleeding all over. I have gaping wounds, and everything is silent though noise is shrieking around me because the words I heard have deafened everything else said afterward.

I keep getting asked by wonderful friends that care "is everything ok?"

The honest answer is no. Things are not ok. Today was probably one of the worst days of my life. What happened today will be with me the rest of my life. It will affect who I am and who I and my children will become. I will not act like a fool and try to say everything is ok. I will not arrogantly say that things are fine as my face gives a fa├žade of a smile while my teeth bleed and lips swell in pain.

Things…

now…

as they are…

are not ok.

One of my friends asked me that question tonight. Am I ok? I told him that things were not, but then I told him I would be.

I will be.

Why? Is it because I am strong? Or is it because I am so good at getting over things?

No. It's not. I am weak. The patient in the hospital needs others to move him around, to feed him, to help him by staying by his side. I am that patient. I am broken. I need help because I am incapable of moving. I need someone to hold and carry me and take me where I need to go.

I asked God to help me love Him.

But what happens when it's my security in life as I know it that is holding me back? It is not the healthy that need a doctor but the sick, right? I am not just talking about trivial things like money, food, shelter. I'm talking about things in life that you grow up knowing are facts, things that will always be that way. In it all I have seen God working. I have watched as things fell in place that I didn't even realize were there until my own walls fell down. I have seen Him working as if to say "Chris, here is my plan for you. Here is how I am leading you and loving you. Here is the path, walk down it!" I have seen the path; I have seen where he was leading. I have seen the things he has shown me to repent of and leave behind. But I never took that first step.

Jesus, the Great Physician shows me who He really is by carrying me along when I can't find the strength to walk.

He has now shown me what I never want to become. He has shown me what happens when time is spent foolishly ignoring the truth as is stares you in the face. I never want that for those that know me. I never want to be an example of what a wasted life looks like. I will die one day and I don't want the people at the funeral to have to make up nice things to say about me because, deep down, they all know that my life was a wasted one with nothing to show for it. I have realized that our actions and our deeds carry far more consequence than any of us have ever realized. I don't want to be like the rich young ruler who asked Jesus how to have eternal life and instead went away sad because he was more concerned about his wealth, possessions, and what identified him than the truth.

I will use this pain and blood to come closer to God. My sadness and anger will strengthen me and give me the resolve to let the things in my life that identify me die because "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

I am and will for quite some time be disgusted and angry but I will learn from the great reformer Martin Luther who said: "I have no better remedy than anger. If I want to write, pray, and preach well, then I must be angry. Then my entire blood supply refreshes itself, my mind is made keen, and all temptations depart." I will use the anger to motivate and focus myself to send me fleeing to Christ when temptations arise.

I will use the new-found love to love those that need it. Instead of loving myself in selfishness I can love God and other people in gratitude. I will use that love to forgive because someone smarter and more patient than I once said that "forgiveness is giving up hope on a better yesterday." I will stop hoping in a better yesterday for my life. I will look forward to a better tomorrow. I will look forward to a life with my family.

Sorrow only lasts for the night but in the morning it melts away like dew in the warmth of the sun.

King David said it far better than I ever could.

Psalm 39:1-7

What Is the Measure of My Days?

I said, "I will guard my ways,

that I may not sin with my tongue;

I will guard my mouth with a muzzle,

so long as the wicked are in my presence."

I was mute and silent;

I held my peace to no avail,

and my distress grew worse.

My heart became hot within me.

As I mused, the fire burned;

then I spoke with my tongue:

"O LORD, make me know my end

and what is the measure of my days;

let me know how fleeting I am!

Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,

and my lifetime is as nothing before you.

Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!


Surely a man goes about as a shadow!

Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;

man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!

"And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?

My hope is in you.

(ESV)


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