The other night my wife asked me if I was happy. I answered quickly with a pronounced, “No!” As a matter of painful fact, I haven’t been happy for any length of time in years! Now don’t get me wrong. I have had my moments of genuine joy over the quickly passing months- but as for being truly content, I can honestly say that I have not experienced a sustained euphoria in quite a while. And I am not proud of that last sentence- just talking truth!
This is quite the quandary for me because I live to laugh. I gravitate to comedy! I have felt the cleansing and healing flow of a deep and invigorating belly whopper! And I know that it is my being divinely designed and equipped with a working sense of humor that has kept me alive! But I have to admit that a larger percentage of my hours in this past decade have been spent battling a deep depression and a devastating despair- complete with an overwhelming sense that God has abandoned me and left my building. I ache with a daily hungering to grasp a handle on why things have happened in my journey as they have and I beg the Lord to give me some kind of sign that would aid me with a renewed and personal purpose and a practical assurance that my life is not some kind of cruel joke. For an internal optimist it is rather deflating to always be on the wrong end of the proverbial shoe dropping! It makes me want to go barefoot and I would if I wasn’t given such ugly feet!
Please change the scenery God, this story is getting old! How come my dark night of the soul has to be prolonged to match the span of an Alaskan winter? Will I ever be given the room to just be free so I can be me again? I feel like I am running with one of those bungee cords attached to my behind! I bust out of the starting gate with the appearance that I am gaining ground only to be caught and flung wildly back to the beginning in a moment of no control! I feel like an American prisoner of war in an enemy camp during World War II. I know that I am on the winning side- but the enemy won’t stop beating on me until he is finally stopped for good. I am not going to give up on my faith for I know that it is only the grace of God that allows me the ability to navigate my way through these foggy seasons. I just long for the time that I know I will be able to move and breathe and exercise my spirit with no hold back pressures again! It will come. I don’t know how and I obviously don’t know when- but I know it will get here!
And if you are worried about me, don’t be. I have discovered that I have lots of company in the men and women who battled through their own issues in the pages of the scriptures. Have you ever really read Jeremiah’s tale? If you dig within the lines that he rattles so deliciously beautiful in the journals of his soul- one might wonder if he ever smiles at all! It is a hard life and yet he knows that the circumstances that pound upon his body all around him don’t rob him of the steady supply of faithfulness, compassion and daily mercies to his soul! He knows God’s love never fails even though everything else does. Jeremiah is not one of the present day feel good saints. He has been field tested and whatever he says- I hang on to because I know that he knows how it feels. You also get the same message when you take a slower trip through David’s Psalms and Habakkuk’s Sonnets. I think that somewhere along the line we were sold a bill of goods that lied to us and deceived us into believing that if God was really good, He would owe us an easy walk that would feature us tip toeing through the tulips amidst the garden of earth. But that close and peaceful walk was defied and denied when we disobeyed the Lord in the Garden of Eden and when our sin entered into the picture- it was no longer a picnic we were promised- but it became a rescue where He would have to save us from being devoured in the poppy fields of delusion before we could ever step foot in His Emerald City! God has been there for me by always staying there with me through the deaths of my children Nicholas and Benjamin and the miscarriages of the other three babies that Terri and I never got to meet. He has carried me as a Father would pick up His own son, as I continue to miss my Dad daily since he died in 2000, a victim of such an ugly bout of cancer. The other night I had such a vivid dream of Heaven where I actually got to enter into a party room of reunion and I didn’t wake up until after I got to cling to my Dad once again. And I knew as I woke up that God was reminding me that as lousy as this life can be some times- my story won’t end in defeat!
I guess what I am trying to communicate through this weekly outpouring of my precious two cents worth of wisdom is that maybe the goal is not to be happy through it all- but more to not lose the hope that God is making me holy in it all! There is a depth to me that I never had in my early days of Christianity. I can say that my commitment to Jesus has been road tested and battle proven! It has survived what my critics once pronounced would do me in for good. The old song we once sang told me that “Happiness is to know the Savior,” but I tend to now disagree. I think it is better said that, “Survival from the battling barrages of life’s bombshells is to have Jesus know you!” I still love to smile but I do know this and I say it from the bottom of my heart and that is my laughs these moments are not cheap but treasured times that are almost hors devours of what lies ahead in that state of reunion!
“O Joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to thee; I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not vain, that morn shall tearless be…” George Matheson