A Stone’s Throw Away

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“He walked away, about a stone’s, and knelt down and prayed”

Luke 22:41

Who knows what Jesus is thinking at this precise moment as he entered the Garden? His disciples waited for Jesus and scripture states that he proceeded ahead of them— “a stone’s throw.”

We often share in the sorrows of the people closest to us, and Jesus wants His disciples to follow him. And they do, but not all the way. They came close, but were oblivious to the full nature of the pain that was beginning for Jesus. They slept while he agonized. He was for the first time perhaps, needing someone close.

Many of us will make the same trip to the garden. Soon every believer makes the trip to ‘Gethsemane,’ but not as mere observers. It is a distinct place of testing and of sorrow. And each will experience it for themselves. “The servant is not above his master.”

But Jesus is close— he completely understands what it means to be alone with sorrow. The believer can lean on Jesus as the pain continues. He sends his “Comforter” to each, as he escorts us through this time. He comes in grace, and is completely kind. He truly is just a stone’s throw away.

“God is our refuge and strength,
    always ready to help in times of trouble.”

Psalm 46:1

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Mental Illness Concerns

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As with anything, those of us with mental illness have much to think through. I believe that God will direct us through these issues. And these are not static things. It isn’t “one and your done”– these are ongoing. They never get completely resolved; you must get used to this. The following list is not meant to be exhaustive.

  • Stigma— This is one of the basic hazards that comes with having a mental illness. People will whisper and treat you like a moron, even in church. You’ll need to be thick-skinned. Ask Jesus for his help. He understands what it’s like. At the time some considered him mentally disturbed. You’re in good company.
  • Medications– This will be a stretching time as you must determine what  is best for you, your family and basic functionality. There will be many opinions and many issues that will arise. Your patience will be required (but isn’t it always?) Oh, and booze is not a med. It is your enemy and a real threat to your sanity. Quit now.
  • Church“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” should be our rally spot. We need fellowship.  It is easy to just go it alone, but we will suffer a barrenness which we will see in our hearts. (I’ve chafed at this from time to time.)
  • Therapy— To go or not to go? A good therapist is worth their weight in gold doubloons, but a bad one can be hard to abide. Also, a  Christian may not always be the best for you personally. My current is a unbeliever, but is very respectful regarding my faith.
  • Marriage—  A faithful spouse/friend is key to managing your mental illness. Invite them to your appointments. Talk, listen, talk, listen, talk. and then listen some more.
  • Family— They will feel the brunt of your issues. It is good to be aware of this and adjust to their needs. Above all, don’t flog yourself for your failings. Trust in the Lord to redeem things. Look for ways to love them. (Surprise ice cream does wonders.)
  • Work— Not surprisingly, some employers have little tolerance for your issues, but the law says is that they can’t discriminate against a mental illness. I hope it won’t come down to that.
  • Social/friend-– Finding other mentally ill believers is priceless. When I meet someone who also struggled with severe depression I give them a big hug. We instantly have a comradeship that isn’t easily defined.
  • Pray–Desperate prayers have a tendency to get answered. Start praying for five minutes a day. Pray, not complain. Be real, not religious. Talk with Jesus like he was your best friend. Prayer is the key to making everything work.

We have the joy of combining our discipleship with our illness. This is a formidable task. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit stands ready to give you wisdom. You will discover that its the tiny issues that can really ‘rock your world.’ (And I’m beginning to think that “grittiness” should be added to the fruits of the Holy Spirit?)

The Lord truly will accommodate your illness with His power and grace. He always does this for His children. No one is ever abandoned or forgotten.

There is no circumstance, no trouble, no testing, that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ, one.right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose.” 

— Alan Redpath

These are only some of the areas that are affected by your mental illness. Oh, a wise spouse, pastor, friend, or a therapist can do wonders when things are out of whack.

The spiritual disciplines of prayer and the Word will assist you. Having people pray for you will be a necessity and may provide you relief and restore your sanity. Just remember, some people still remember how to pray.

“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, NLT

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Listening to the Disturbed

There is a tremendous need to listen to those suffering with mental illness.

Listening takes patience.

I believe it is a rule written somewhere, that self-centered people are simply not prepared to reach hurting people.  You might say they don’t have the capability to become a good listener. One thing is certain,  listening will change you.  The more you do it, the better (and wiser) person you will become.

Listening to the disturbed takes work. You can become that catalyst for healing and wholeness. But you have to set aside your own agenda to do this.

Typically the mentally ill are intense communicators. Sometimes they can be delusional and seem incoherent. But your patience will pay off. Trust the Holy Spirit to strengthen you.

“Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”

Proverbs 18:13

A Good Listener:

1. listens with spiritual ears open, hearing and understanding the spirit beneath the words;

2. listens with the heart and mind still and th e mouth shut;

3. listens with no personal agenda;

4. listens with compassionate spiritual eyes, maintaining involved eye contact;

5. listens with a compassionate heart;

6. listens with a committed heart;

7. listens with attentiveness;

8. listens without judgment;

9. listens without fear;

10. listens with faith, knowing that the Spirit of God is at work to will and do according to His good purpose;

11. waits patiently, quietly and prayerfully through times of silence, making room for the unfolding of things previously too deep and too painful to even know or express;

12. counts it a privilege to witness a soul in the process of transformation, even when it doesn’t look like it;

13. offers to explore options wisely;

14. offers to pray when the time of tears and sharing ends;

15. consoles with words of comfort and confidence in the faithfulness of God, which is usually all anyone needs to hear;

16. waits to give advice until asked;

17. offers a hug;

18. recognizes that these are holy moments of eternal consequence;

19. keeps all holy moments completely confidential.

20. doesn’t try to take the place of the Holy Spirit.

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”

James 1:19

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I have no clue where this list came from. But it is quite good and very thorough. I exhort you to really listen close to those with a disability. Forget about WWJD. Try HWJL.

(How Would Jesus Listen?)

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