Jesus

Withdraw to lonely places

For those who too are depressed, anxious or exhausted–I’m sharing an excerpt of my journal from today.

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I trust you, Lord. I’m just going to keep saying it and keep doing it until I believe it. Our beliefs follow our actions.

I’m ill today, Lord. Not physically ill though, in the way I lied and told my mother, counterpart, students and club members I threw up this morning. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. I’m depressed and anxious. There’s a spirit of fear still residing in me, Jesus, and I am at your mercy to cast it out!

I made it through two winters here already and the third is about to begin. Now I’m busier than ever and I haven’t been looking after myself and I just broke down. Had to spend a morning in the shop, aka my bed, for repairs before I could get back on the road again.

Part of living with this depression is being able to function when I’m hurting. To be able to perform at quarter capacity. Not perform well, but to simply show up and bounce along down the road of life. There are tough paths everywhere and quitting to take a new route isn’t going to make the journey easier. The scenery changes, but the trials and challenges don’t.

So it’s somewhat about pushing through the mental pain. Doing before feeling. Finishing in last place instead of taking a DNF.

Even you withdrew to lonely places, though Lord. Even you needed a day off, away from people, away from the demands and empty bellies, broken spirits and hurting bodies. Even you said “no” to people sometimes.

You withdrew to lonely places to pray. To connect with the Father. To unload and be refilled again. You knew the crowds would still be there, that there’d always be the poor, that there’d be no break in the lines of the needy.

So you talked to your father. You called him and taught us to call him, “daddy,” like a child climbing up into his lap.

I imagine you talked about your week, the masses crowding around you, those who wanted to stone you and those plotting your murder.

I imagine you asked for strength to resist your human nature’s desire to lust, lie and envy. I imagine you spent time just looking out over the hills and the trees and the water and marveled in the beauty of the creation you helped your father make, bringing Him glory in your obedience and receiving joy in return.

My battle here Lord is not against people and not against the world but against the spirits of darkness hovering here in my bedroom, sailing down the streets and slipping into pernicious corners in dark alleys of our homes and in our minds. That satan wants to kill and destroy and his workers gnaw at the edges of our souls, pushing us to abandon the straight and narrow path and throw off Jesus’ light yoke, trading it for a necklace of chains.

I ask for the freedom of doing your will. I ask for assurance that everything will be ok in the end. I ask for your yoke pulling me out of bed each morning to go at it alive and free and in the joy of being known by you, my creator.

It’s the afternoon. The shops are going to close soon and I need to pick up some things for the Halloween party tomorrow. Then, I need to print some stuff for the seminar, then I’m going to continue this day with you, withdrawn to the lonely corner of my bedroom, a few more hours of worship, the smile of your countenance on me, the warm raindrops of your mercy washing things anew, and the rest of being in your presence.

Be near oh God! Amen.

How to be happy

There’s no guarantee of happiness.

“Wait—but I thought I was going to be reading about how to be happy?” you say, “And I’d like you to give me back the energy I just expended clicking on your post.”

I’ll send some via e-mail, if you shoot me one first. (But you’ll have to cover e-mail s&h energy yourself.)

Life goes sideways, and fast. Many times in my few short decades I’ve found myself flipping over the handle bars and in that slow-motion moment thinking, “Damn. This is going to hurt.”

The secret isn’t in knowing how to always be happy. You won’t be. You can’t be.

Happiness is about knowing the final outcome.

And only one thing in all of human experience promises a perfect ending—faith in Jesus and forever life with him.

“That’s fair enough for you to say, if you buy into that stuff. False hope I guess is a kind of hope,” I hear some of you saying, “but the first mention of that spiritual stuff is where I sign off.”

But hang on a sec—it’s true, but not only that, it’s truly hopeful.

If it were up to me to create my own happiness I’d end up in one of three places: extremely selfish, surfacely ignoring the hurts of the world and smugly assertive while being hopelessly aware of how sideways my life and everything else was going; or, humble as a doormat and miserably depressed about my own failures, shortcomings and lamenting how life just wasn’t fair for…pretty much everyone; or, at some uncomfortable and uneasy spot in the middle, never being quite sure where it’s all going or why anything matters.

Luckily it’s not up to me. It’s not up to you. It’s not up to the efforts of anyone, except for one man, Jesus. Luckily for us we’re living in an age where he has already come and done the work and we have the opportunity to hear about it, welcome it and live by his life.

What does that mean, to “live by his life” and how does that make us happy?

It’s not about doing. It’s about being.

The fear of what might happen next and just-what-am-I-supposed-to-do-about-it is the biggest killer of happiness. Fear of an unknown future robs our peace, gnaws at our nerves, and holds us hostage to ever stepping out into green pastures by quiet waters. Without an assurance of the final score, we’re just wandering along, hoping to catch our own sort of happiness and hang on as long as we can before it dissipates and we’re left searching for the next oasis of comfort and emotional security.

When we focus on simply the state of being in right relationship with our creator by relying on what Jesus has already done, it no longer matters what happens in life. We can be “content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Life with Jesus means simply living by the thought that his life and work takes the place of your life and work. At that thought there’s no longer anything to do. No ten steps to follow. No qi to absorb. It all comes down to one solid truth:

In the end it’s all going to be ok.

This is one of the most freeing thoughts that can occupy your mind. I challenge you to dwell on this for awhile. Meditate on it. Close your computer, walk outside, look up at the sky and say to yourself:

No matter what happens, it’s all going to be ok.

Living in this truth melts the outer crust of our timidity. It allows us to be happy with situations, with people, with life.

That’s what happiness is. Happiness is the freedom to feel all things and go through all things and to know that it’s all going to be ok. Happiness is allowing yourself to go to the places where all emotions lie and all circumstances dwell and to know that nothing can happen that will change your final outcome.

It allows you to live boldly, love deeply, laugh timbrously, and enjoy thoroughly. It allows you to cry when you mourn, to pray when you hurt and to fall on your knees in those crushing times. God is there in it all, is with you through it all, and no matter what happens in this life, is there at the end to welcome you home.