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God is a miracle working God. The following story of how I was found by his light when all seemed to be utter and dark despair makes this truth abundantly obvious. I was as near utter despair as any man could possibly be without crossing that terrible line into its chaotic and inky black heart. Yet, here on its yawning precipice, you will see that God’s light was all the brighter to me as it was revealed in stark relief against this throbbing maelstrom of my fallen reality and self-inflicted chaos.
In this narrative, I will be covering a period of my life spanning approximately six months. At the beginning of this period, I had been married for five years, and I had three children with one on the way. I was dissatisfied with my job, the house I had just bought, and the church I was attending. But above all, I was growing in dissatisfaction with myself. I was beginning not only to dislike who I was becoming, but I was actually starting to positively fear the man I looked at in the mirror every morning. I needed help, and I needed it immediately.
This story is not a story about how I overcame through positivity or willpower. No, this is a story about how Jesus of Nazareth came walking on the waters to my soul when it was almost lost. It’s about death becoming life, darkness becoming light, and ashes becoming beauty. It is a story about how God’s light found me in my darkness. By the time you finish reading it, it is my hope that your heart will be enlarged towards God and your mind more amazed by his amazing grace.
The Downward Spiral
All I felt was anger. If I was not angry I had no emotion at all. Sorrow, joy, longing, hope, and love were such distant memories that I wondered if they had ever existed at all. What was it like to cry? What was it like to laugh because it was the only way to express the joy I felt? I couldn’t remember; all that filled my heart now was a searing anger and a raw irritation. I tried to keep living as if this was not my reality. I tried to smile and laugh. I hugged my children but felt nothing for them. They had ruined my comfort and at least as I saw it in my twisted heart stolen my relationship with my wife. I would never admit to myself that this is how I felt but it came out in my anger towards them and my barely contained rage at the world around me. How could I feel affection towards them when all they gave me was grief? How could I love them when they had ruined everything I had been looking to for joy? My wife too, she seemed to take their side every time. I was merely there if there was nothing else for her to be doing, the least needy and therefore the least loved. I didn’t enjoy how I felt, I looked at other families that seemed to be happy, other men who seemed to take real delight in their children and I secretly despised them. They were all acting, I thought.
My relationship with God was also dead. I was not stirred by his Gospel. I was unmoved by his great love. To me, he was an angry God who felt towards me as I felt towards my children. I could imagine his rage being like mine, pent-up and building, waiting to be unleashed on me. I was afraid of God, I was scared of myself. I knew I could not control God and I could feel my grip on myself slipping away. I felt like any moment could see me snapping and I feared greatly what that would look like. I was becoming desperate. I fear I was becoming dangerous, if not to others certainly to myself. Death began to look more and more inviting. It was just too hard to care, too hard to change, and I just wanted it all to be over.
The Limpid Struggle
I was just subsisting. Scraping out each day with weary strokes of a blunted and a broken heart. I longed to live, to love, and to feel but all seemed far out of reach. I began to pray. It was my last hope. “Lord,” I prayed, “I cannot feel anything good, I cannot love, and I cannot live, I don’t know what to do.” I prayed, but I prayed as a man who cared little if anyone heard. I knew my situation was desperate but if I had to go by how I felt it was all really a matter of indifference to me. I began to read some profound books on theology to see if they could spark anything in my water-logged soul. However, they proved only to make my anger extend up to God himself. Nothing seemed of any help at all, I was wicked, and I was beginning to think that embracing that identity was the only way to peace.
The Light Dawns
One night I was contemplating the fact that I could not love others or even myself. That I was unable to care for people without getting something for myself in return and that sensual pleasure was my only pleasure, and worldly gain my only god. I cannot remember now how it happened, but my wife and children started singing the little children’s Sunday school song “Peter and John Went to Pray.” The song is based on the story in Acts that tells of the lame man who sat day after day begging alms of those who entered the Temple in Jerusalem. Peter and John happened by this man, and he expected them to give him money, but Peter says to the man “silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I you, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” All of a sudden like a light being switched on I could see clearly!
Jesus could change me just like he healed that lame man. Jesus could make me live and love. I had been asking for the world, but he was offering me life. For the very first time in my life, I realized that Jesus was a real living being that I could approach. He was just as real at that moment as my wife standing next to me was. I confessed to him at that moment how I had gone astray and how much I needed him, and he began to heal me and change me. I am not perfect, yes, but the anger is gone, and in its place, there is love. The irritation is gone, and in its place, there is a joy. The fear is gone, and in its place, there is peace. You see God does not merely bring light into darkness, but he actually makes darkness light. I am living proof of it.