The Terrible Plight of the Impulsive Christian

 

“Unstable as water, you shall nimpulsivetiggerot have preeminence.”

Genesis 49:4

Walking on water is easy to someone with impulsive boldness, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is something altogether different. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus, but he “followed Him at a distance” on dry land.” 

Oswald Chambers

Peter was bold, rash, and impulsive.  

That explains so much. He did good things for sure, but he also could be weak. This quality also describes those of us who are often morally and spiritually “out-of-control.”

The impulsiveness symptom describes much of our actions, and our personal direction. We are something of a “loose cannon’ and we can deeply frighten people who know us. We love God deeply, at least some of the time.

Those of us who struggle with mental illness must often deal with impulsiveness.  We find ourselves turning aside so quickly.  We do those things which will later destroy us.  Self-destruction is so close. It’s like we are playing some kind of spiritual ‘Russian Roulette.’ 

But our soul is constantly loved and watched over. 

He cares for us as a Father cares for His son.  As mortals we make a lot of choices.  Some maybe godly, many are not.  We often find ourselves out of control, because we choose so poorly. We know it is wrong (so much cries out against it)  but we do it anyway, no matter what. We are often ashamed of our impulsiveness.

There is a lot out there, much that can side-track us. So many choices, and opportunities.  And the Deceiver will parade them all in front of us. I suppose that sin is as seductive as we let it be.  I remember a friend saying, “It can’t take me if I don’t want to go.” That makes some sense I think.

We must try to develop a commitment to what we know is true.

Impulsiveness will tear us apart.  When it resides in our heart, it will eventually destroy us.  It’s like uncontrolled nuclear fission within, it takes over and it seems I can’t stop it.  I find myself out-of-control, it seems to take me  beyond human help.  Once we are in this state, we are completely unreasonable. It seems only God can intervene.

In my awful impulsiveness, I can see His faithfulness.

We often think we are just spontaneous people, and we consider it to be a plus.  But our decision-making is dangerous. Some will understand what I’m saying, but many others won’t.

It seems when we choose the worst we’re degraded us the most.  We make these sudden decisions without the Spirit’s guidance.  They take us to places we otherwise never dare to go.  We find ourselves in an ugly and lost place.  We chose wrongly, and usually without considering the results of our choice.

When we are impulsive, we are like a ship without an anchor.  We go with the wind and the current, pushed along and directed by no one.  We think we are spontaneous, when all we are only desperately foolish. We’ve chosen to sail into forbidden waters.

We face the reality of being ship-wrecked.

As a mentally ill person, I simply can’t direct myself in a God honoring way apart from His active hand.  I’m a just ‘a kid out of school’– unable to understand the eternal issues at stake.  Instead of abandoning myself to the vacillating foolishness of my heart, I bypass the solidity of the Spirit.

If I could pass anything on to others, it would be the ability to say “no.”

I really don’t want to degrade and destroy myself by my wrong choices.  The Holy Spirit keeps comforting and encouraging me, all with an endurance and persistence far beyond my reasoning. 

Truly His pursuit of me is relentless. 

In my impulsiveness, I can often see His faithfulness. He has it within Himself to free me from these awful forces that would tear me apart. “God, please have mercy on me.”

 

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The Sheer Hopelessness of Mental Illness

Please bear with me. This was written in March of 2012. Right or wrong, it was where I was at with my illness. I hope it will bless, and bring hope into that situation that seems very hopeless:

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18

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Depression can feel hopeless.

I’ve seemed to have settled down into a blackness that defies all explanation. I’m dodging being hospitalized, and they can’t put me where I don’t want to go. I don’t want to be locked up again.

It’s the hopeless/helpless thing, a “one-two punch” that is the most devastating to me. It crushes and pulverizes until I lie in this sad pathetic mess I’ve become. Dante had it dead-on when ascribed the gates of hell with the words, Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” In hell you’ll know what despair is really like. Perhaps heaven and hell really do start here?

And there was another writer, just as clever, said something along these lines,

Shut up! Unless you have been lost in this particular section of hell before,  just be quiet.”

And perhaps we should? Nothing can trump personal experience. The survivors, if you can find them, will understand what I’m saying. It seems that that hard book of Job is finally starting to make sense.

How is it,
People fear the dark?
Not me, I’m reconciled
as every day I see
the blackness grow,
I’ve come to terms with it,
it knows I know.

–Rod McKuen, Alone

Hopelessness swirls me around and I feel like a bug going down a drain. Thoughts of suicide are becoming more concrete and despair is becoming a frequent visitor.  Mental illness is frightening. Those who have experienced it, will learn not to say anything, but pray.

Durability may ultimately prove to be the most significant factor in this “mixed state” of Bipolar Disorder that I am wandering through at the moment.  Can I outlast these demons that plague me? My irrational mind plays tricks on me, I see mirages of wholeness and peace, but they don’t seem  real. It is a big, fat lie. It is nothing but a delusion, or a trick of the brain.  And yet something inside of me steadfastly hopes for God’s grace and mercy. 

I know that Jesus has conquered the dark. I must cling to Him. I must let this darkness go. He’ll need to work this out.

Up and down, side-to-side, where it stops, no one knows?  But God…and right now He isn’t saying. Jesus hold on to me. I hold on, by faith to the promise given to me—

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 1:6

I don’t mean to be this raw. Sometimes I just let it “all hang out.” I hope you’ll forgive me if I’m too open. I just wanted you to have a picture of a “broken believer” and more so of the grace that saves me. I know He does love me.

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Losing Everything

My own studies have immersed me in the awful book of Job. This man lost everything–there is much we can learn from him. But it may be a definite challenge to plow through these “dark” issues. But we need to do this, sooner or later.

First of all, Job is a mysterious book. There’s no reference to the Temple or the Temple services. No connection with other biblical writings or persons. Most students believe that the book of Job is the first one written in the Old Testament.

It’s not Jewish, but it’s not pagan either. In a real sense, it speaks about suffering and pain. Job lost everything. The book tries to explain what brokenbelievers face every day. We all struggle. We all will experience suffering and loss.

Job connects us with those with illnesses–mental or physical.

We are people who must try to navigate through dark things. Most will never really understand this, but we are those who must face adversity and conflict. Like Job we ask why. We may even end up accusing God of attacking us.

We have to sort things out and believe me, it’s never easy. As we try we’ll often ask “why me?” We often accuse God. But I’m thoroughly convinced that the Almighty isn’t fazed by our questions and we should never think we’re wrong when we so challenge his goodness. He’s big enough to handle these.

In Job we’ll hear God speak to us through “the whirlwind.”

I want to encourage you (the reader) to find place in your heart for this book. Job isn’t easy to read–but I’ve gained a lot by reading it in the Message translation, but any other modern Bible works.

We’ll realize all of our questions will probably not be answered, but that’s okay. The problem of our suffering will most likely remain. There are no pat answers. I’m sorry.

“Anyone who has suffered knows that there is no such thing as “getting a grip on oneself” or “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. The only bootstrap in the Christian life is the Cross, sometimes laying hold of the cross can be comforting, but other times it is like picking up a snake.””

“Job knew this firsthand. From him we learn that there are no easy answers to suffering. That the mark of true faith is not happiness, but rather, having one’s deepest passions be engaged by the enormity of God. And through Job we learn the secret of the gospel: that “mercy is the permission to be human.” The Lord never gave Job an explanation for all he had been through. His only answer was Himself. But as Job discovered, that was enough.”

Mike Mason

Some Christmas Advice

Christmas is my most favorite time of the year. 

I grew up in the northern part of Wisconsin, and my most valuable and tenderest recollections are my Christmases.  I was raised in a Norwegian Lutheran church, (Think: Lutefisk.). Many memories flow from that; the cold, the snow and the tree, and the presents.  I’m a ‘wealthy’ man through all of these great memories.

Even when it was bad, it was still very good.

I remember our annual Nativity play at Church. I fondly remember the sticky, caramel-covered ‘popcorn ball’ each one of us would get from the church ladies aid.  I also remember a very bleak Christmas when there was no money to be had for presents. A local charity came through at the last minute with gifts. I was profoundly touched by all of this, and more. 

But I have no real way of instilling any of this to you. 

However, I do exhort you to go out of your way to minister to the young hearts you have contact with.  Help them believe.  Make it easy for them to touch the miracle of the manger.  Let them leave your company yearning for  God’s presence in their day. 

It won’t take much, maybe keen imagination on your part and humble prayer.  But those things you do may spark, ignite and become a blaze that will direct them through their lives.  Be kinder than you need to be. Purposefully do things that will impact them, even small things often carry an astonishingly strong influence.

You may be in the thick of it.

Just maybe you have lost the purpose and meaning of this day. But I’m pretty sure any failure isn’t permanent. But at least, try to do as much as you’re what able. Let Linda and I pray for you this season. Email us please.

A Lutefisk History – Lutefisk Recipe 

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