Building a Life Worth Living: 10 November 2010

The following is from my journal. The entry speaks about the previous days events….

10 Nov 2010
Last night fwas a tough one. First, I thought the dog had gotten out and was gone which really upset me. Then, I discovered that he had in fact, dug underneath the fence between my place and Our WONDERFUL neighbor, Mrs. Cindy. I called him and he did not respond, so I called Cindy’s dogs who came out from the dog door to house, Pono in toe. I hope he didn’t destroy anything. Now, I want to kill him. That itself is enough to send me realing in a cycle of panic, but add on the side effects from my rx’s I’m feeling, the naseau, the constant pain, the dizziness, fatigue, hot flashes and sweating, the fact that I get so enraged so easily – All these thinbgs added together simply knock me to the ground. Each day seems harder than the one before it, yet I endure. I don’t literally run away much anymore, I just retreat within myself – same thing – just no one knows the war raging within. And again, a couple of songs grabbed me and let me vent and cry out to God and one was an earnest prayer for the Father to Hold me! They are Casting Crowns – East to West, and (thanks to Dan) Tenth Avenue North – Hold My Heart!

East To West:
“Here I am Lord and I’m Drowning
In your sea of Forgetfulness.
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for PEACE and REST
I don’t wanna end up where you found me,
and it echoes in my mind,
keeps me awake tonight…
I start the day the war begins,
endless remindings of my sin,
Time and time again your truth is drown out
by the storm I’m in.
Today, I feel like I’m just one mistake away
From you leaving me this way.

This is the heart of what PTSD sufferers have to deal with. It is a feeling of failing, inadequacy, worthlessness, unloved, unwanted. We only focus on the negative – even though these feeling aren’t usually correct, they don’t have a cause, they don’t have any evidence – but they are there just the same. They become self-validating. “If I’m feeling insecure their must be something wrong with me to feel insecure about.” That is what begins the downward spiral into the darkness for me. This always leads me to a self-destructive place.
ALL I WANT IS A DAY OF PEACE! JUST ONE DAY that I don’t end up angry or depressed. Just one day where I don’t end up say FML! I don’t feel like crying anymore, though at times I’ll break into a crying spell for no reason and simply can’t make myself stop sobbing. Wuss! What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you just get over it already? Oh that I could!
I’m learning a lot in therapy. I can recognize my triggers and sometimes stop the cycle from ever starting; others I can’t. But, i’ll get better. The truth of the matter is that I’ve had good DAYS – plural. And, logic says if there was 1 good day, then eventually there will be two, then, maybe three! Even knowing this; right now writing this, I just want to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head and stay there. In the cool darkness forever.
I’ve tried explaining to people what this feels like, this constant in the equation that is my life. And, wouldn’t you know it – providence, rather my Heavenly daddy, steps in and reminded me of something He prompted me to get in the first place, WHILE I WAS STILL DEPLOYED. It is a book by C.S. Lewis entitled A Grief Observed. Interesting how he had me gather the materials that he would use to rebuild me before I even knew I needed rebuilding. In Lewis’ book he describes his very real emotion at watching his wife die of cancer. This is EXACTLY what it feels like to be carrying around the weight that I do….

“No one told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep swallowing. At other times, it feels like being drunk or concussed. There is an invisible blanket between the world and me. i find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting.”

That’s it Perfectly! My disorder/condition is hard for me to grasp. Intellectually, I understand the “how’s” and the “why’s”, I can read the studies and go through the different models used to treat the symptoms of my “disease”. I can even recognize the truth and value to it all! Yet, I still struggle, CONSTANTLY, with this Demon within. Something to think about…

was crucified, dead, and buried

(This is part seven of a multi-entry blog series exploring the Apostles’ Creed.)

This entry talks about the second most important event in human history; the day that Jesus

“was crucified, dead, and buried.”

Once again, I’ll break it up into chunks and look at all three components of this line and why they matter.

“was crucified” – It’s been said that grace is free but it ain’t cheap. This event is exactly what that statement is referring to. Jesus, an innocent man, was crucified for sinful people. Jesus was brought before the crowds right before his crucifixion along with a man named Barabbas. Barabbas was a murderer, a violent man, a rebel (Mark 15:7). Pilate, who we discussed in the last entry, offered to let one man go: Jesus or Barabbas (Mark 15:9). It’s easy, at this point, for us to resent the murderous rebel who got to go free; for us to wish that Jesus had been set free. But I think at that moment all mankind was symbolized by Barabbas. The guilty rebel, with blood on his hands, was set free while the innocent Son of God was delivered to Roman soldiers to be scourged and crucified. I am Barabbas… and so are you. We should realize that we are the guilty murderous rebels that have been set free.What shall we do with this freedom that has been purchased on our behalf and given to us as a gift (Galatians 5:22)?

Next, Jesus was subjected to the most painful execution method in human history. The death of the Messiah was actually prophesied before crucifixion even existed (Psalm 22:16; John 20:20, 25), but that his how He died. We hear this all the time: “Christ was crucified.” We become numb to it. Yet, crucifixion was so horrible, a word was invented to describe it: excruciating. Excruciating means literally “from the cross.” That’s how painful it was. There are many people who do a better job of explaining this than I do. Here’s a link to the Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion that describes the physical pain our Saviour experienced for us. It was horrendous!

Sometimes crucifixion could last for days. Jesus was so weak from being flogged (Isaiah 52:14; Mark 15:15, Luke 22:63-65, John 19:1) and so dehydrated (Psalm 22:15; John 19:28) that He died quickly (Mark 15:44). Sometimes, to hurry the dying process the Romans would break the legs of the person on the cross. Jesus’ legs were not broken, which is important for several reasons. First, Jesus was the Passover Lamb; in John 1:29, John the Baptist described Jesus as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” According to the Passover instructions, the sacrificial lamb was not allowed to have any broken bones (Exodus 12:46). Additionally, this was consistent with Messianic prophecies that described Jesus’ death (Psalm 22:17; John 19:31-36). Finally, after several hours, Jesus declared that His work was finished (John 19:30), and was…

“dead” – Matthew 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46, and John 19:33 all agree that Jesus was dead. Some people have claimed that Jesus merely passed out and later woke up from His nap. Although medical science has progressed over the last 2,000 or so years, people back in Jesus’ time could still tell the difference between someone who was alive and someone who was dead. First there’s Luke; he was the author of the third Gospel and a doctor (Colossians 4:14). If anyone at that time could identify a dead body, it would have been a doctor. Another expert at identifying dead bodies would have been the Roman soldiers who professionally killed people (Mark 15:44-45). It was their job to take living bodies and turn them into dead bodies. Surely they would have been able to identify a dead body? Finally, it’s likely that anyone who witnessed Jesus being scourged, beaten, and then crucified, would have been able to realize He was dead because His body would have been mutilated; this also fulfilled prophetic Scripture (Isaiah 52:14).

“and buried” – After Jesus died, He was buried by Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43, 46). If Jesus had indeed fainted, it’s likely that without immediate medical attention He would have died in the tomb during the three days He was buried. Also, as Mark 15:46 mentions, a large stone was rolled in front of the entrance. It would have been impossible for Jesus, after His body had sustained so much damage, to move the stone. Jesus’ burial in a rich man’s grave also fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 53:9 (Matthew 27:57-60, Mark 15:43-46, Luke 23:50-53, John 19:38-42).

We find that there is compelling evidence that Jesus was certainly crucified, dead, and buried. Isaiah 53:6 summarizes these events best:
“All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.”

Second Corinthians 5:21 tells us why He did this:
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

We’ll explore these themes further in a later post…

Building A Life Worth Living: Exposed

“What our soul longs for is a life that is beautiful, healthy and true. What our Soul longs for is love, intimacy, and relationship. What our soul longs for is meaning, purpose and value.”
– Erwin McManus; Soul Cravings.

Are you intentionally leading your heart to places that will grow you? In order for me to move out of the dark place I find myself, I must INTENTIONALLY lead my heart to places and people whom are seeking after the will of the Father. Things will continue to be a struggle for me; however I’ve come to realize an important truth. Even if I never get better, even if this never becomes easier I continue to pursue Him. If I begin to search the heart and endeavor to put on the heart of God, I know I will see the evidence of that search in my life. I have a unique perspective on Life, addictions, faith, family, friends, outcasts, and many other things that most Pastors have never experienced and it is in those experiences, that came from “following MY heart” that I can speak with authority to those situations. I’ve lived it and AM living it. To start that journey to a meaningful, REAL, RELATIONSHIP with the Living God, you have to take a step…every great journey began with a single step. This step is one out of darkness and into the light. But, how do we know where we are going? This concept of Light has amazed me as I’ve combed over the scriptures looking at its imagery. Jesus said; “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Ok, Great! So, what does this mean. For me, it’s the Path, to the Destination, where we will find REAL LIFE! This all begins with making better choices. Notice, I didn’t say GOOD choices. Some things that we choose to do aren’t bad or sinful, yet there is clearly a better choice on the table. For example, drinking alcohol isn’t a sin – yes, I may have been raised a Southern Baptist, but they miss the point , which is part of the reason why I think Jesus chose to reveal His power to the world by turning water into wine for his first miracle. But, that’s just me. I read the scriptures and see the wonderful sense of humor of the Father. But, I digress. While drinking isn’t a sin (and you can’t make it one by proof-texting) a case may be made for drunkenness and addiction. But not for simply having a drink. But, here’s the better question to ask – “If if my past indicates that my decisions in (insert area) have led me to bad places, will doing (insert action) lead me to a different place?” In other words, If doing what I’ve always done leads me to where it always has, why would this time be any different?” Its about making smarter choices. This is the first step out of darkness. Here are some interesting facts about light.

1. Light always moves in Absolutely Straight Paths
2. Light has 3 colors, red, green, and blue; from these three colors ALL colors are made, including White.
***Black is the absence of Color
3. When light is intercepted by a drop of water in the atmosphere it is reflected off of the inner surface of the water, which causes it to split into it’s three main parts and is then reflected out of the water. This is the science behind the rainbow. It is called refraction.

What the bible is speaking to when it talks about living in the light, is abiding in Christ; living life totally exposed. For me, that means confronting a lot of personal demons that have and continue to haunt me. My feelings of guilt, shame, anger, my severe depression, insecurity, low self esteem, and the list goes on. No one really knows how hard this really is for me or how I’m actually doing because I’m very good at hiding the truth; I’ve had a lot of practice. But, due to a series of events, none of which were spectacularly important, I ended up sitting in a 2X2 closet, just a short while ago, with a knife to me arm wrestling with the intense feeling to just end it all. Tears streaming down my face and this deep soulful cry choking me – as I fought to NOT end my life – it was in THIS moment that I discovered the TRUE meaning of intercessory prayer. Between ragged breaths, I was crying out to God. And, these weren’t prayers of help or encouragement, they weren’t cries for peace or understanding – they were screaming to God – screaming AT God – ARE YOU THERE? ARE YOU LISTENING? DO YOU EVEN SEE ME? DO YOU EVEN CARE? But that’s what it means when the scriptures tell us, “For in THIS hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weakness, we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8: 24-25
I’m desperately trying so hard to stop trying to fix myself, which is tough because I’m a “do-er”. I need to always DO something. If this experience has taught me anything, it is that the pain I feel is real and the more I hide it the stronger it becomes. I’m still trapped in this prison of my mind. I can’t seem to get around it or plow my way through it – the “inescapable me” – here, now, the darkness that follows me, haunting me, the emptiness I feel is silence and that noise is deafening. It seems as if nothing I do or say or feel or think or believe or know is right, good, or true. But, when you take away all the pretense and misconceptions of me, all that is left, all that I have, is Jesus. Fundamentally, all that is inside is Him. The fundamental truth AND belief that God is who He says He is, that God loves ALL people, God desires All people, He will do all that He has promised, and that He will go through each moment with me. As it often does, a Song comes ringing out of the darkness and speaks to me as my heart begins its lament-full cry to Holy God – ABBA FATHER – SET ME FREE!

Casting CrownsSet Me Free

It hasn’t always been this way
I remember brighter days
Before the dark ones came
Stole my mind
Wrapped my soul in chains
Now I live among the dead
Fighting voices in my head
Hoping someone hears me crying in the night
And carries me away
Set me free
of the chains holding me
Is anybody out there hearing me?
Set me free
Morning breaks another day
Finds me crying in the rain
All alone with my demons I am
Who is this man that comes my way?
The dark ones shriek
They scream His name
Is this the One they say will set the captives free?
Jesus, rescue me
As the God man passes by
He looks straight through my eyes
And darkness cannot hide
Do you want to be free?
Lift your chains
I hold the key
All power on Heav’n and Earth belong to me
You are free
You are free
You are free

· This song follows the account in Matthew of the man full of demons until he met Jesus.Mark 5:1-13 / Ephesians 2:1-10 Romans 8 / Revelation 1:18

To be continued…