United In Him

I meet the neatest people on here. I can’t imagine how wonderful you are in person! This is better than nothing though. This shelter-in-place has ignited a brainstorm of inspiration for me when I get back to work. I’ve been working at home, but there’s been a plethora of time for reflection. Annie F. Downs book 100 Days To Brave has been a shot in the arm too. I’m camping out on one particular entry for several days about the love of God. It alone is worth the price I paid for the book from Lifeway.

Our newly formed small group from church is about to begin a study on love, and our pastor just began a series on battles and blessings out of Joshua in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). You guys are going to laugh, but I initially typed Jonah where Joshua is written above. It struck me funny because I’m pretty sure Joshua and Jonah had two completely different perspectives on life, and I want to mirror the example of Joshua. Jonah was an embittered soul who didn’t want the lost coming to the Father. I realized Jonah is more complicated than that, but that’s a side note.

A relationship with the Father is indispensable to all who call on his name. That’s an obvious statement, but let me express how I personally have messed that up many times in my life. When we “met” with our small group this past Thursday evening I was still reticent to sharing my story. I wanted Carey, my wife, to open up, but the buck dropped to me. I’ve told it so many times I’m stoic towards it, but it’s pivotal to where we are right now. It no longer controls me the way it used to control me, but it’s somewhat a strong chapter in my battle with depression.

In October of 2006 I was working for a soft drink bottling company. I was already on probation, and I had an altercation in a supermarket. I decided to quit that job on the spot. It was a very ugly time in our marriage. Carey was staying home with our daughter, and my actions ripped that right out of her hands. My inability to control my anger and fear brought my depression to the forefront. It was a period I would label my “dark night of the soul.” I’ve heard that phrase many times in my life, but I’m not sure who coined it. It should have been the best time of my life, but it was in many ways the darkest. Depression is like that. It’s more than a bad day. It’s many bad days on top of each other, and in my case it’s been months and years. It’s a “thorn in the flesh” that God can remove, but so far he hasn’t. He’s God. I am not. He continually works out his salvation in me, and my trust in that has never wavered. I grew up in a faithful Christian home, and I think because of that I’ve never questioned God. Somewhere even in the midst of darkness his presence has given me enough peace to survive.

God has called me to do so much more than survive. He sent his son and the Spirit so that we could have abundant life. The Hebrew Bible and the New Testament has shown us over and over that obeying the Law is impossible with human beings. Our own experience mirrors that fact. Grace, mercy and redemption are Hebrew concepts, but I think I’m correct in writing that it was the New Testament that brought it home. Grant it, we won’t be home completely till Jesus returns, but you get my point.

It’s pivotal to admit and live into the fact that salvation, recovery and surviving through temptation must be done with supernatural help from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Ungodly anger and hate drove me to depression. The chemical imbalance has always existed, so factors are in my life have always been greater than one. The incredible release comes from One who has the power over life and death. He didn’t just defeat death. He defeated sin that mars all of like. It makes it ugly, disgusting, unloving, lazy, lustful, judgmental and selfish. It not only demands its own way, but it will seek to control the ways of others. Coming to change these self-destructive habits is a must for admitting I need a power beyond myself.

Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so is one of the most powerful things I write, say and sing to release me from the power of evil. Evil is powerful dear one. I think sometimes we become desensitized to the magnetic force that pulls us into the bad, but we need to wake up to its destructive power. It’s not more powerful than the One I just wrote about, but it is more powerful than us.

God brought us together here, and I offer thanksgiving to him and us for showing up to make his power known. What we have overcome and are overcoming is a testament to his presence.

Father, we thank you dear LORD for being present in our lives. We worship you this moment because you’ve never let go of us. We’ve let go of you numerous times, but every time we return it’s as if no time has past because of your great love. Please end the coronavirus dear God. Comfort those who are grieving the death of their loved ones, and heal all the sick to spend more time here on this earth. Make this pandemic something that drives us closer to you and each other as you already have, and show us continually how much Jesus loves us every moment of every day. In his name amen.

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