Friday, August 22, 2008

Wrecks

I wrote this during the past few weeks, and was getting ready to post it and had second thoughts. I just couldn't bring myself to press the "publish" button. So I saved it to draft. I don't like to leave things unfinished, so a few days ago I was going to delete it but couldn't bring myself to do that either. I thought it over, prayed it over and have come to the conclusion it really might help somebody. On the other hand, it could make some people never read again. But after thinking it through it's a risk I'm going to take. I think it's important to note that I've made major strides forward since writing this. Although my circumstances haven't changed, I have. I am personally moving forward...through several sources of help ~ the greatest one being Jesus and His great love, and some of His followers who are particularly compassionate. Day by day, my strength and hope have started to return. I post this here to help somebody who might still be stuck. If anything said here gets you unstuck, my goal will be accomplished. This is the "special post" I mentioned yesterday. It's special because I may never post something like it again. Here we go...

"If your Bible is falling apart, you probably aren't!"

That's what I've often heard.

Well, mine is falling apart. For a while now my main reading and preaching Bible (a leatherbound NLT) has been absolutely falling apart.

Sometimes the pages flutter to the floor when I'm preaching. From I Corinthians to Revelation, it just consists of loose papers that fall out anytime I open it. It's sort of a pain to deal with but it's the Bible I like to read most or minister with and just haven't gotten around to replacing it.

Confession...

it's falling apart but I feel like I am too.

I'm a lover of the Word...love to read it, love to teach it, and try to live it. But even so, sometimes, like now...I feel like a wreck.

Does anyone else who is also actually in God's word feel that way? I've decided to dare to find out. Because I feel so alone.

I'm not a wreck because of sin or a moral failure. In a twisted way, I wish it were that easy. Sometimes I find myself in such a vexatious state of despair I think, "If it were a sin or moral lapse, it would be easier to fix! I'd just "ask, believe, confess"! I'd do the Christian ABC's and I'd be done with this. I'd "admit it, quit it and forget it!" Confession and repentance seem like a piece of cake compared to depression. Most people who have problems and come to me for help aren't reading their Bibles or praying. What an easy fix! I just say, "get into the Word and prayer." They do, in the majority of cases, things get better. Because anybody who is not in the Word or prayer is going to have issues. And when you fix that everything improves.

But honestly, there are times my head is into the Word, but I'm still feeling hopeless. I put the Word in but it leaks out so fast. There are times I get up to minister and I think, "what in the world do I have to give these people?" Well, that's a stupid statement to make while I'm holding a Bible...of course I have the good news of the gospel to share with them. But what I mean is, even though I have prayed and sought the Lord more than ever, I am still struggling. I think of all the times I've told people, "just praise your way to a miracle!" I believe that, and it's worked for me many times. I still believe that. Right now though, I just feel flat.

Here's what I am finding as I study this. There have been a lot of passionate God followers who were history makers that were a wreck at times. People throughout scripture such as David, Moses, Jeremiah, Elijah, and Ezekiel, were wrecks, just to name a very few. I've been especially drawn to Ezekiel in the past, and now today I find myself looking at his story again . His wife died and he was not allowed to mourn her loss. He had to shave his head, and lay on his side for an entire year. Then when he was done and thought that craziness was over, he had to do it for 40 more days. His food and water intake were greatly restricted and God made him cook what food he was allowed to eat over a pile of human poop. I'm serious. It's in Ezekiel 4 & 5. One of Weight Watcher's slogan's is, "Diets are Mean!" I need to tell them they don't know what a mean diet is until they've read Ezekiel. Being limited to 20 points a day is NOTHING, compared to the insane stuff the man had to deal with.

Nothing that was asked of Ezekiel seemed to be too hard and he plodded on...until the poop thing. He was so upset about the human poop that when he petitioned God, He relented and said, "okay, you can cook it over cow poop. Wow, what a consolation. Ezekiel trembled and shuddered while he ate in awful pain. I would too if I had just cooked my food over poop. I really believe Ezekiel should have been mad at Job for stealing all the attention! In studying the book of Ezekiel, I am finding the theme to be that it's not so much about our circumstances getting better as it is about God making us better as people. It's about God doing something in me internally even when externally my situation seems hopeless.

Honestly if you look at Ezekiel's situation, it didn't get better, at least until chapter 37, and let's be real...that took forever. And the kicker is that God told him in the beginning that the people were not going to straighten out and listen, but that he would still be held accountable for preaching to them! What the heck??! Why does God do that? It's still happening today. God purposely sends ministers to people all the time that He knows in advance won't listen! Could it be that He sends His messenger for their sake rather than for the sake of others? Ezekiel obeyed and was faithful to this call. People said he was out of his mind. Honestly, anybody who is abandoned to God and His will and fully obeys Him will be considered crazy at times, I'm convinced of that.

I could go on forever about Godly people who were wrecks at times in the Bible. For some reason everybody has accepted that there were wrecks in the Bible but nobody today wants to admit that they are a wreck. You fear people figuring it out. What if they don't respect you? They might not want you to pastor them. People might not invite you to speak to them anymore. At the very least they might think you are unspiritual. Why can't you just plead the blood and snap out of it? This is the fear you have when you are a a wreck. What if somebody realizes I really don't have all the answers, and am only sure of a very few things in life?

"Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me..."

I sometimes sing, "that saved a wreck like me." Only some days I wonder, "if I'm saved, why do I still feel like this?

Could it be that a lot of spiritual people who love Jesus, read His Word, and pray are wrecks at times but we just don't know it? Could that be why it's hard to believe this phenomenon exists?

I have "submitted myself therefore to God, and resisted the devil so He will flee..."

I have "cast down every imagination and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God..."

And yes, I have "called the things that are not as though they were."

I have bound...I have loosed...I have spoken to it...I have stood on it...

I lay in bed with the light streaming in my windows, not wanting to get up, surrounded by the feeling of darkness and say...

"you do not feel sucky..
in Jesus
name, you do not, you do not, you do not, feel sucky..."

I have named it and claimed it.

I have blabbed it and grabbed it.

And still I feel sucky.

A few people have quoted, "this too shall pass" to me. My husband says that all the time. And I know it's straight out of the Bible. But frankly one of my secret fears has been that it won't pass. As much as I try to quell that fear it pops back up again after I have beaten it into submission and taken it captive.

Here's some interesting things I've found in my quest the past few weeks to study wrecks :

The famous reformer and preacher, Martin Luther, who wrote the song, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God", was a wreck at times. His biographer writes that he was "prone to recurrent periods of depression" and that Luther himself wrote, "The content of my depression was always the same -- the loss of faith that God is good and that he is good to me." During one of his severe period of depression, he wrote this: "for more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost."

Charles Spurgeon struggled so severely with depression that he had to take a break and step down from his pulpit for two to three months out of every year. In 1866 he had the courage to confess his struggle to his congregation. He said, "I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go through." He described the period of depression as "every mental and spiritual labor had to be carried on under protest of spirit."

Sounds like these guys had some sucky days.

They changed the world as we know it.

I am not alone.

There's hope for me.

12 comments:

LAURIE said...

You are NOT alone! I'm learning to give God my praise in ALL things I endure even the days I feel yucky. We are all human and I think we feel like you wrote about from time to time. The important thing is that we don't stay there! Pick ourselves back up and allow God to place us on the track once again .... thanks for sharing from your heart, Laurie

Leanne said...

Reading this with tears in my eyes...I SO needed this today. Thank you for deciding to post it after all!!!!

Melissa said...

Hmmmm, you have put into words exactly what I have wanted to say and share. THANK YOU for posting it. I know it took courage and strength to do so, not just pushing the publish button. My circumstances just keep getting worse here but I too will PRAISE HIM and TRUST HIM no matter what happens!

Tara Sloan said...

This is a divinely appointed Word Deanna... thank you for being obedient to the Holy Spirit!

susan said...

Thank you so much ! I really needed this. With everything I've been going through I have felt like I've been a total wreck emotionally. Thank you so much for the encouragement.

Love you, susan.

Aaron said...

Yes, thank you for this post.
Thank you for:
1.) Writing, "I am personally moving forward...through several sources of help ~ the greatest one being Jesus and His great love, and some of His followers who are particularly compassionate. Day by day, my strength and hope have started to return." This has confirmed what I have been hearing through your recent posts.
2.) Writing, "I'm a lover of the Word...love to read it, love to teach it, and try to live it. But even so, sometimes, like now...I feel like a wreck." You often quote Scripture and I know you read it often. It is encouraging to hear a devote follower of God going through the same thing I do. I may not read, pray, have quiet time as much as you but I try to get something in each day.
3.) For saying, "Does anyone else who is also actually in God's word feel that way? I've decided to dare to find out. Because I feel so alone." I have gone to several people who don't understand the feelings I have and basically tell me to snap out of it. My wife don't understand either. Without even my wife understanding...I feel alone.
4.) And this, "But honestly, there are times my head is into the Word, but I'm still feeling hopeless. I put the Word in but it leaks out so fast." In my long two in a half year period I can't say I didn't sin or didn't have mountain top experiences. I confessed my sin and the mountain top crests way too fast. However the steady periods in between were depression. No matter how much I read and prayed that heavy feeling weighed me down. In this time I still ministered to the children and they grew in the Word because of it. It wasn't until it became a burden that I laid it down. In doing that God lifted me up. That was Christmas time. I thought I was coming back this fall, but God said not yet. I have more to go before going to the level I am called to be at right now. Stuff I have to understand, make right, and stand in. I can't give what I don't have. I can say I'm free from depression but my living out what I believe needs a makeover.
Lastly, thank you for the Biblical and modern day examples you gave. I know about a few in the Bible but not Martin Luther or Spurgeon.
Sorry so long but I didn't want to stop once I started. Thank you for not pressing delete!!!:-) I appreciate you and your devotion to Jesus! May your reward be here on earth and in Heaven.

Deanna Shrodes said...

Thanks everybody...

I got about four or five emails after this post from people who related to it but didn't want to make what they are going through public. It strikes a chord with quite a few people, evidently. I'm glad I posted it.

Aaron, I am praying for you. I know how important support in the home is, because I was afraid my husband might not understand (I think that may be a common fear of people who go through this) but I am blessed that he did/does understand. I know my road to getting better would have been very, very difficult without his help. I will pray not only for you but for your wife that she will either have God speak to her about this as she prays,or maybe he'll even put a book or something on the web in her path that she'll see and say, "oh...this sounds like what Aaron's going through" and she will have a change of heart..." I don't know how it might happen but however God does it I just pray that she will have a heart of understanding and that you can get back on track with "living out what you believe" as your heart longs to.

Love and blessings,
Deanna

Kerry said...

PD,
Thanks for sharing this post. It shows that you are human and if anyone would be mad about that then too bad for them. We ALL have struggles and I'm sure if we were honest, we could all testify about being a wreck at some time or another in our life. May this be an encouragement to all who needed it and may God bless you for sharing.

Lady Melissa said...

Pastor Deanna,

Thanks for the post - and yes I must admit, I TO AM A WRECK!!! I often say, "it's not easy but it's worth it" well, for the past couple of weeks that saying has been in question. I've done all you've said and then some as well but!

It is indeed good to know that you're not alone (not that you want others to go through) but it gives you hope knowing that it's a God thing and that things just has to change sooner or later. I Bevlieve that I can speak for us all - FATHER, WE PREFER THE SOONER!!!

Deanna Shrodes said...

Lady Melissa,
I am learning soooooooo many people are going through a difficult time right now. So many, I just can't believe it. So many are under attack. It doesn't make it any easier for you, I know but at least we know WE ARE NOT ALONE. There are those who understand.

I am praying for you. Your name is called before our heavenly Father tonight...I am standing with you for your breakthrough.

Love you

Beloved MaMa said...

In the depths of my dispair, I have never been closer to God. (I know now of this as I look back) People told me I just needed to pray more, read the Bible more...I was already doing that! I've learned that the enemy wants more than anything to steal my joy!

On a different note, please have your church pray for my brother's mother in law. I've written about her on my blog. She needs all the prayers she can get!

Angie said...

I am a pastor’s wife. I love Jesus and I love His Word. I choose to live God’s way and seek His face and avoid sin. I have also been through what you are talking about. And God has brought me to the other side. More than once.

I want to share with you what I have learned. I am not therapist or a professional at this but I’ve done my homework and what I found was worth sharing. I hope it helps you and the other people reading your blog too.

Depression (that’s what you’re dealing with here) is so much more common than you think. Even in the church. But just like you, so many people are afraid to admit it because it’s so dark and overwhelming – and personal – and no one wants to be weak in our American culture of competing with the Jones’s and trying to look the best.

It’s not weakness. It’s not punishment. Sometimes it just happens. Sometimes with circumstances that can push us under and other times for seemingly no reason at all… despite our best efforts to “keep our chin up.” God causes the rain to fall on the good and the bad. And like Job, we can’t second guess Him, we’ve got to trust and endure.

Depression truly IS a physical problem. There really are chemicals in your brain that mess with your moods when out of balance. Some people need medication to help and others don’t. You have to do what God leads you to do on that one. But be patient. Fighting and overcoming depression is like fighting mono. It’s a long term battle. It takes a minimum of 6-9 months to right those chemicals again – this is not going to be a short term thing but it IS defeatable.

As with any illness, having the strength to heal is going to depend on taking care of yourself. A healthy amount of rest and good foods will help you battle it more quickly. I have found that foods rich in the B vitamins are very beneficial. Lack of sleep and an unbalanced diet can actually make it worse. I believe that’s why so many ministers and missionaries battle depression. Face it – sometimes in the ministry, sleep is a luxury. And it’s hard to be deliberate about meal choices when you run so hard. You’re going to have to back off (even if it costs you) so you can have the strength you need to recover.

Lastly, you are doing the right thing offering hope to others. I look at David’s example. The psalms are full of his thoughts when overwhelmed but he always remembered God and overcame. I believe his honesty with God is why he was “a man after God’s own heart.” Thank you for being honest. I wish there were more of that today. Spend time investing in what you love even if you don’t feel like it. Continue to live in God’s Word.

Take hope – God’s plans are to prosper and not to harm. You WILL get through this.
Angie