Being As Honest As I Can

 “So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.”

Ephesians 4:25, NLT

I intend to be simple.  I am worried and distressed by my own confusion and a simple disorientation about my own detachment to what is spiritual.  I confess a trust in Him, but am wary of  an evil attachment to things that take me away from Him.  I know this sounds confusing, please bear with me.

I turn to Him, and yet I know that I know that a small part of me does not really belong to Him.  I want to belong, but am conscious that I just don’t work into the Kingdom.  I am a liability.  I quickly will admit to some confusion, but I have no real intention to deceive anyone.  I desperately want to be His, but I’m aware of issues that would defy such a connection.

I have an incredible infatuation with Jesus, and His teaching.  He is the most amazing man to step out out of the ‘river’ of the human race.  I see in Him so much, and deep down I want to fall on my knees and worship Him.  The things He did are honestly the most sublime in the history of man.  He is astonishing.

And yet, I continue to struggle.  I see all of this and yet I’m confronted with my own issues.  I know what I would like to be.  But if I press, I begin to short-circuit.  I do, certainly turn it over to Him.  But I also am aware of a certain antipathy or rebellion (although that word seems too harsh) against the whole idea of grace.  I can not figure ‘grace’ out.  Grace perplexes me.  It is the ‘Gordian Knot’ of the entire human race.

But I do connect with Him.  My bipolar would quickly render me a traitor.  I vacillate much more then the average person.  Ultimately, I do turn and trust Him.  He has led me to a wonderful place.  If it is all a delusion, then so be it.  But I will still believe in Him who gave Himself for me.

If that makes me a disciple, then so be it.  But I know I am the least of His.  I guess faith would venture more.  But I scrape up all that I have and hope it is enough.  I look at the accounts of Him and am pretty much astonished.  Jesus did things, consistently, above others before Him and after Him.  He is quite exceptional.

I am a follower.  I will struggle, and then have to deal with that sin.  But I do believe and intend to keep believing.  I only wish I was more consistent.  I sometime wonder that in the “Book of Life’ if my name would include an asterisk.  “Made it, but by the skin on his teeth, but it was a Tuesday”. (His good day).

Don’t fret, I am under His hand.  He deals with me, and fully intends to lead me, home.  I so do want that.  If on that Day, you hear someone hollering, it will be me back in the 15,426,488th row, shouting ‘I am finally here”, in the fellowship of heaven.

He who has this disease called Jesus will never be cured.”

Doestevesky

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For My Friends in Battle

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 “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

Philippians 1:6

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The Part of My Depression That Terrifies Me

“Must I then, indeed,  Pain, live with you

All through my life? –sharing my fire, my bed,

Sharing–oh, worst of things!–the same head?–

And, when I feed myself, feeding you, too?”

 Edna St. Vincent Millay

The critical issue we face is the reality of  living with ourselves through an acute episode of depression or mania.  I think that cohabitating with something that is trying its darndest to kill you is especially frightening.  Depression is my mortal enemy, and here I am, actually enabling it. How disturbing.

In a way it is sinister, the stuff of scary movies and bad novels.  It is the parasite is making its residence in the body of its host.  It sounds like something from a crazy ‘story line’ out of Star Trek.  I know how strange it sounds, but we some of us are enmeshed to melancholy.  It is in essence, part of our personality. We instinctively carry a dark despair and a savage despondency wherever we go.

When it slumbers, life can proceed on.  I can play with my kids, be a good husband, friend and neighbor.  Everything seems quiet and normal.  But when the dragon awakes, there will be ‘hell to pay.’  But exactly when, you can never be too sure. But living with this fear is equally as hard as the depression itself. How will I handle it next time? Will I be in shape for Christmas, or will my ‘cheese slide off my cracker’ again this year? I just don’t know. Under the veneer things can get very rough— very, very quickly.

My wife and kids lived in Mexico for almost three years.  We had a trailer, and part of that time we parked on the slanted slopes of a volcano.   Trust me on this, living on it was like living on a bomb!  I reasoned and rationalized, but each day I spent time thinking about it.  It wasn’t a big deal, but it worked its way into my thinking. Living on a volcano will do that to you.

There is this promise found in Psalm 139—

“You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!”

Psalm 139:5-6

I am glad that God decided to intervene in my life.  Without question, I need Him to watch me and deliver me ‘day-to-day.’  As a believer in Jesus, I know he has put his hands on me.  He shields me from the dragon.  I believe that he protects me from the worst of it.  The Holy Spirit absorbs much of the venom Himself.  I am glad I belong to Him! I’m thrilled that He loves me. The fear of a plummeting relapse is now His concern. I bear it no more.

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When Your Name Gets Changed

Naomi and Ruth

“So Naomi and Ruth went on until they came to the town of Bethlehem. When they entered Bethlehem, all the people became very excited. The women of the town said, “Is this really Naomi?”

Naomi answered the people, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very sad.

When I left, I had all I wanted, but now, the Lord has brought me home with nothing. Why should you call me Naomi when the Lord has spoken against me and the Almighty has given me so much trouble?”

Ruth 1:19-21

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Naomi has traveled from Moab to her hometown of Bethlehem. People were pretty excited and made it a point to bring out the crowds. It’s great for her to be around happy people, who were definitely pleased to see her again.

But Naomi makes it clear that something has happened. She has been fundamentally changed by the Lord. She can no longer be called Naomi (“Pleasant”) but insists she is now “Mara”. Her reasoning is painfully clear, she grasps the reality of her condition. “I am now Mara (“Bitter”), that is my new name.”

“Call me by this new name, because the Almighty has acted “bitterly” against me. I am not the same person I was went I left here. I am different, when I left here I was prosperous, everything was going very well. But now, its different, and I come home with absolutely nothing. And it’s all because the LORD has hurt me deeply.”

I read this the other day, and was intrigued by her perception, and of her theology that recognized God’s handprints on her life. I believe she was a broken person, and therefore essentially changed. I believe she had a measure of peace in seeing the Lord was in control. It wasn’t fate, karma, or destiny. It was God! That is to say a lot.

As a mentally ill person, I find a comfort in this. God has touched me, and I am not the same person I was five years ago. I know hard things, even bitter things, about myself and the world around me. I went out healthy and strong and have returned weak and empty. Bipolar disorder will do that. God’s dealings will do this. He loves us far too much to allow us to go unchanged.

God is not malicious, but He is very thorough. And all that He does is for our good.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Romans 8:28

There are distinct times when the Lord works to bring us to Christlikeness. That involves a refining and smelting process. This is never “pleasant”; it is almost always “bitter.” Naomi was finding this out first-hand, to the point of changing her name.

“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.
    Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.”

Isaiah 48:10

I’d like to encourage you to recognize and announce your weakness and your brokenness. See God’s hand in your bitterness. You will be surprised at the release that will come to you. It shouldn’t engender anger, but surprisingly it can bring you healing and salvation.

“God rescues us by breaking us, by shattering our strength and wiping out our resistance.”

–A. W. Tozer