I attended a conference once called Shattering Stigma: Mental Illness and the Church. In a session about anxiety, the presenter said one phrase that has stuck with me: “Don’t believe everything you think.” Just because a thought enters your mind doesn’t mean it is true. For me, that is especially the case when Darker Me decides to throw her hat in the ring.
I wrote this poem, a letter to Darker Me, after I’d spent a few days believing her lies about and interpretation of something someone else said. Thankfully, upon closer examination, the lies were exposed. I hope this poem encourages you to examine each thought, especially if it is negative, to determine whether it is true.
Dear Darker Me,
I tumbled like Alice as I followed you
down a rabbit hole
but entered no Wonderland.
I found no Mad Hatter,
though I found I might be mad myself
for listening to you.
You are no White Rabbit.
Like the Cheshire Cat you
point me in the wrong direction.
I lost my way in my own twisted mind.
You are no Queen of Hearts to insist
I cut off my head or stay stuck in it.
Lost for days wandering among
thoughts that made no sense.
You interchanged truth and lies!
Nothing was what it seemed to be
as I followed you into
an Unwonderland of dredged up
hurt feelings and wrongs recorded
on an endless loop.
I must find my way out,
back to the surface where,
Truth is truth
and lies are exposed by the Light.
But everything exposed by the light
becomes visible—and everything
that is illuminated
becomes a light.
I’m afraid I must expose you,
dear Darker Me,
that I might live without
your control over my mood.
I suppose we’ll meet again,
but for today I bid you adieu.
I know this light is not for you.
I choose to awake from
the nightmare you’ve drug me into
and rejoice in the truth,
in the Light.
Christ in Me
“Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.”
Psalm 13:3, NIV
God is the sole developer of light.
He creates it and then assigns it to whomever He chooses. He is the proprietor and the sole creator of its properties. Without Him actively bestowing light on us we would have no access to its power or its benefits. He holds the exclusive patent.
As Adam’s progeny, we have experienced a light moratorium.
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”
Psalm 119:30, NIV
History shows people to be amazingly compliant and susceptible to dictators and men with power. We seem to follow leaders with sinister and strange purposes and agendas. History shows it over and over. We just can’t grasp what is true and what is real.
Darkened by our sin, we struggle throughout our blinded lives, unable to understand or grasp what is our real purpose. Meaning completely eludes us. However, we are directed by the Psalmist to open our hearts to the gracious gift of light. It illuminates us, giving us a sense of what is real and how life truly unfolds. The word “understanding” from our text is critical. No matter how stupid and pathetic we have become, the Word of God penetrates our fog and gives us a sense of what is true and real.
Let it unfold, let it open up in your understanding.
Like an umbrella on a foggy and rainy day, when it opens it will cover you. Notice that the source of lit-up truth emanates from the “words”. Place yourself in His Word, let it pour over you, and let it bring you to the place of joyful acceptance.
Jesus has come as the “Good Shepherd”.
Those of us who are being led into His Grace and Truth are finding the light. He is revealing to us a definitive understanding of truth. And we need truth desperately. Let Him lead you.
“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior.”
1 Timothy 2:1-3, NLT
“The Church has not yet touched the fringe of the possibilities of intercessory prayer. Her largest victories will be witnessed when individual Christians everywhere come to recognize their priesthood unto God and day by day give themselves unto prayer.”
–John R. Mott
You are a priest without a collar. Your work is called “intercession.” It isn’t for cowards or the spiritual lazy. It needs to be ‘hidden’ in order to really work. No one should see, there will be no adulation or recognition. You may not even feel special. But God sees and hears you. Jesus told each one of us,
“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
When we ignite in prayer, we will see things as Jesus sees them. We will share His view and take part in His high priestly ministry. Jesus isn’t complacent, sitting on His throne, waiting for time to run out. I suppose that is the view of some, but it honestly isn’t real.
“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most
Hebrews 4:14-16, NLT
“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
When we start to really intercede we become a sort of a “sub-priest.” We serve under the Lord Jesus the High Priest’s direction. We engage our work under the Holy Spirit’s oversight, and we start to plead for those who need Him most. We are the one’s who make things happen when we stand with Jesus.
So who and what do we pray for?
Family and friends
the sick, those in distress
the stranger, the one who bags our groceries
the church we attend, the pastor and elders, the congregation
missions, or missionaries in a certain country, or in general
for ministries working under God’s direction
finances, supplies, for more workers in the ‘vineyard’
safety and protection from the evil one, cults and businesses that ‘traffic’ in evil
more wisdom and grace for all who are ministering God’s Word, for other intercessors
our government, police, soldiers–from the ‘dog catcher’ to the president
These ten are just a start to get you going, this list is not complete by no means, but it’s a beginning. As you start praying you will add and expand these things. Remember that faith is a key component in the work of intercession. You must come in harmony with His present ministry. You do this through:
praise and worship
Bible reading and thinking about the Word
listening and discerning what is happening around you
asking questions that really matter
being humble and broken, not haughty or proud as you pray
becoming alert to all of the needs around you, be sneaky but holy
instill in your heart the Kingdom of God and the supreme ministry of the King
exercise His authority over the earth, see things as they really are
personal prayer times that get you ready to pick up the ‘mantle’ of intercession
see yourself joined in this ministry of Jesus, who wants “all men to be saved”
Don’t be surprised if the Spirit draws you to a specific need. I believe that there are ‘specialists’ in the Body of Christ. One person will concentrate his attention on the sick or the demonized. Another may be dedicated to praying for the president or the Supreme Court, and someone else might pray for certain missionaries or countries. In short, you must listen to the High Priest, and get your cue from Him. He most certainly will direct you on where you should stand!
There is definite power in joining with another or in a group. It seems to me though that this can be a challenge as we can get disengaged or passive. Spiritual laziness extinguishes the fire of God. Yet if we are sincere our intercession can become ‘turbocharged’ when we are actively with another. It should be a skill we develop over time. It will take concentrated work on your part to stay focused.
I love this quote. I don’t remember the first time I read it, but it resonated with me immediately. I see in myself that person, carrying buckets of cold water to douse the flames trying to consume the lost and hopeless.
I’ve been through hell here on earth. Over a decade of it. I felt sure all was lost. The thoughts in my head wouldn’t go away. They said things like:
I’ll always be broken.
My family would be better off without me.
Nobody likes me.
I’ll never hold down a full-time job.
I’m weak and helpless, good for nothing.
I can’t leave my house; it’s not safe.
I’m going to be attacked again and I deserve it.
I hate people!
I just want to die.
Depression that stems from sexual trauma is a special kind of hell.
The way our culture questions survivors of rape, asks what they did to bring it on, makes many victims say nothing. They tell no one. Instead, they keep the secret inside and bury it in their soul, where it sprouts and grows. It grows bitterness, self-loathing, fear, anger, hatred, and hopelessness. It grows lies, like the ones I told myself over and over. That secret fans the flames of hell, burning the soul.
I walked out of those flames.
Okay, maybe crawled would be a better description. But I am victorious, still alive, still a little broken but okay with that. I didn’t do it alone. I had friends, family, prayer warriors, and Jesus Himself who helped me.
I’ve learned that none of my burning thoughts, even if they were partly true, didn’t change the fact that God loves me. He loves me so much He sent His Son Jesus to redeem me, to douse the flames of hell for me.
And when I began to share my secret, let it out into the light of day, something amazing happened. The sprouts of bitterness, hatred, and hopelessness began to wither. Jesus exposed the lies I had believed and showed me these truths:
If you are feeling the flames of hell on earth, for whatever reason, I am here to pour the cool water of truth on the lies that are fanning the flames. And not just me. I know that Bryan is also here to help carry you out. I pray you can connect locally with loved ones who can help bear your burden and bring you into the abundant life Jesus promised.
The despair of hell can seem so real, but trust me. It is only a deception of the evil one. I in no way want to diminish the pain you are feeling. I know how painful depression and trauma can be. But hold on. Help is on its way.