Every morning I wake up asking God for supernatural encounters. I never knew how they would come, and it would be a lie to say that I always have one. In fact, as of late, I’ve had far fewer than what I would attest to have been almost a several times a week kind of deal in the past. This isn’t to say they weren’t occuring, but there is something to say about how one can blind themselves to the things around them. In other words… I most likely wasn’t seeing them.
Today is one of the most oddest, genuine, and simple encounters I’ve had lately. It might sound a bit strange to you, but track me on this. It’s part vent, part testimony, part prayer request.
Today was a rough, rough day. Doctor’s visit, work, and a flood of memories that smacked me square in the face when I least expected it. Nothing good really was happening today… at least that is how I was seeing it. I had a crappy health report given to me this morning, and I find myself frustrated, as I left the doctor’s office and drove to work. Two things were hitting me on the drive… I have a bad rep for pretty much back peddling on the advice of doctors. If I feel good enough to do it… well, I’m going to do it. Not always good, but sometimes not bad either. Depends on how you look at it. Part stupidity, part faith… isn’t necessarily the best combination, but it’s how I roll from time to time.
The thing is… lately, I had been doing exactly what the doctor asked of me. Only to return weeks later, and be given a bad report anyway. That was a frustrating beginning to the day. The report didn’t really dismay me, as I knew something was up, and I was feeling worse than when I was originally diagnosed with the condition months ago; but the thought that I had truly worked hard at watching my sugar levels, eating the right things, etc etc only to hear it isn’t doing any good was just… not cool.
Anyways, today was simply… frustrating, and emotional, and well, the two combined just made it all crappy. When I left the doc’s office, my first thought was to call my mom. Hence, the emotions and fuel to the flames in the frustration department. My mom past away last year and from time to time I found myself still picking up the phone and dialing her number without thinking. We had our problems, our tiffs, our battles of wills; but she was my mom. And no other, besides my best friend, has ever been there for me like her. When things would get tough, she was the one I would first call. We would pray together, laugh together, and sometimes cry together. The solution may not immediately come, but I knew it would. No matter the difficult times between us… I KNEW I could rely on her love, her input, and her prayers for me.
Driving down the road, dialing her number, and suddenly realizing no one was going to pick up that line… just about killed me. My heart sank and the tears began to flow. My heart was physically hurting. I was blinded to the point where I had to pull over, just sit, and let it all out. I wanted nothing more in that moment than to hear her voice reassure me, “It’s going to be okay.”
Floods of memories and emotions were hitting me like a monsoon. The past and the present were intermixed in such a way that it was just pretty much unbearable and a blur. I wanted to tell her all that had happened. Ask her how to get through it. How to find the strength to deal with such crap that had hit me in the past month or two. But I couldn’t, and all the prayer and the worship in the world seemingly wasn’t helping me. I wanted that physicaly, earthly connection, of my best friend, my mom, to comfort and help me.
Sure, I could wake up in the morning… tell myself, “God is with you. Get it together.” And, I would indeed, go to work, go to church, worship at home, worship in the car, ending the day with some play time with the pup, a bit of reading, prayer, and devotions, and a good night’s sleep. But where my tears should be of joy, it was almost constantly of heartache. The heartache of having to worship just to push through the pain and hurt, to only feel it come back again later. That’s no way to live and walk in your spiritual life. You shouldn’t be worshiping JUST to get through pain. Worship is part of a reverence found in praise, and there have been times when it has been BEYOND easy, but most times it was just simply to FEEL something… anything.
I have a tendency to bottle up my emotions, and for the past several weeks I’ve been doing just that. Fearful of where my mind could take me, and the fact that the hurt may just end up breaking me… I didn’t want any of my feelings to surface. I’m not a big crier, and even less on confrontation. Even when I flat out knew something was done wrong against me — I have a tendency to bottle up, close up, and let no one inside to the point where I wouldn’t even speak up in my own defense — taking on the “let God and let God” approach. A lot of guilt has been shouldered lately by me for this exact reason. My silenece was taken as confirmation of accusations made against me and my family, yes my family — a whole other story, whole other post, and definitely a whole other venting session that probably will never surface here.
I’ve remained silent before… many times…. and it’s gotten me into trouble before. My mom would first love on me, then scold me for not speaking up and defending myself, and then end up praying with me for “holy boldness” to speak in the face of adversity, etc. My silence, this time, brought more hurt than the satisfaction that I had kept myself in check — and my mouth closed — against others in the face of accusations that had both hurt me and had ended up being used to verbally attack my family and directly dishonor my mother’s memory.
Questions on why I didn’t stand up for myself was completely replaced with why I did not stand up for my mom. I was willing to take the abuse on myself, but why accept the enemy to destroy and taint the memory of my mother because of things NO ONE understood or knew, and had only wrongly assumed, guessed, and perceived because of MY past and then attempting to extrapolate and draw a conclusion from it. She hadn’t been gone a year and the anniversary of her death was literally just around the corner when all of this had occured. Somehow such a guilt-ridden question was used by the enemy to absolutely riddle me with arrows, so to speak. I was, like I said before, flooded with feelings of guilt and anger and hurt; and it effectively helped fuel old wounds and past hurts done both by myself and against me. Trust is a BIG issue for me, and has been ever since I was a child. The phrase, “Love all. Trust few. Do wrong to none,” was a common practice in my life by the time I was a young adult. But it now seemed all so… unpractical. Worthless. Useless. Regret for my own silence helped spur and open the door to attacks from the enemy. Essentially, I felt and in a way (I discovered today) still feel that I had helped deliver the final blow.
If I were to say that I have not been depressed, I would be lying. If I were to say that worship for me was the key to filling and replacing the hurt and pain with joy (like it has ALWAYS done in the past)… I would be lying. There was, and essentially is, still so much hurt that worship for me has become nothing more than a salve for my wounded heart.
So I think it odd tonight, that when I woke up this morning and asked for a divine and spiritual encounter, it came in the way of a simple song by a secular artist. Actually it begun long before that, earlier in the day. It was probably the reason why I had realized it was God’s way of communicating to me through a form that always gains my attention… music. It’s a universal language… physically and spiritually. No matter what I’m feeling, how down I might get, music has always been this little pathway in my physical and spiritual ears that just never could close off.
So here I was… an hour, maybe more, on the side of the road after leaving the doctor’s office, just pouring my heart and crying out to God — which was a heck of a lot more like venting to God — and just really feeling plain pity for myself and all the crap going on — when I had finally tried to convince myself to suck it up and head to work.
I work one job in two different places. Off Post and on. One is taking orders and the other is engraving for much of the orders I took earlier in the week. I went to the first — building my little shadowboxes, engraving plaques and medals, and listening to good old Air 1. It stays on 24/7 at my tech bench, regardless if I’m there or not. Five minutes into sitting at my desk, I had realized, the station wasn’t on. When I turned it on, I heard a rough voice sing the words, “Wherever you are now, Whatever evil has found you, Bring all your troubles, and come lay ’em down.” It took 2.5 seconds for me to have to get up, close my door, and cry. I was pouring out my heart once again, proclaiming my struggles and the fact that I was just plain, utterly tired — physically, emotionally, and especially mentally and spiritually. I believe we all have such spiritual fatigue from time to time, usually in some minute way I suspect, but for me…. it was more than minute… it was tremendous, ungodly, and detremental. It was the kind of “fatigue” that I was not used to, nor do I believe I have ever encountered before. It was the kind of fatigue that was causing serious conflict in my body, mind, and spirit… and was bringing me down, and bringing me down fast.
I had allowed the enemy to battle with me, and I had lost the battle and allowed myself to be trampled in the natural and the spiritual. I was believing that I was ready for a spiritual battle (something I suspected and was warned about months ago, just not suspected in the manner the enemy undertook) that I was no more equipped to take on than an infant taking its first steps desperately reaching out in a feeble attempt to grab a hold of something. Because of my own inadequacy and past failures, the enemy was able to take past hurts and sins and use them against me in the present, and I had ignorantly and pridefully allowed him to do it.
“Whereever you are, whatever evil has found you, bring all your troubles…” Wow, it hit me, and hit me hard. God knew EXACTLY where I was. I had and have been on the brink for days, emotionally. He knew that this day would come where all the crap bottled up inside was goign to spew. And He was ready to take hold of me and simply just love on me. I searched for the entire song, and it rung true like a bell in a tower. It was right on, and in good timing. The feeling that God WAS there, that He understood, and that He was reaching out to me was becoming clear. Deadlines were approaching, and I tried hard to concentrate and finish my work. The song sat on repeat for hours, and I continuously was awe-struck by the beginning of the song:
Come down to the river, come and let yourself in
Make good on a promise, to never hurt again…
A promise was made to God, and Him to me, many many years ago, that surfaced like a fish out of water. I won’t discuss that promise here, but let’s just say…. the words sung above by the artist was right on with part of the promise made. The word “promise” kept coming back to me again and again. I felt God specifically wanted to bring this to my memory. What He had promised, and vice versa. It was important, I felt, that I remembered it verbatim. And I found myself spending several minutes writing out the words verbatim as I could recall them on a tiny yellow post-it. When I finished, my newly purchased song was now blaring in my truck as I made my way to my second job.
The environment on base is far different. I don’t have a lot of control of what I play, due to the fact that “music of a religious nature” may be deemed offensive to some of the soldiers that come into the shop, and therefore no longer allowed to be played in ear shot, which for me and others in the shop, means it can’t be played at all. So when I’m in the front, I find myself having to listen to whatever secular station is on. After a trying and busy three hours of pure non-stop ordering of plaques and medals and shadowboxes, for the first time in three hours a lull had begun and I could breathe. It was only minutes when people stopped coming in and it was practically simply dead silent in the shop minus the tiny hint of a radio playing in the background, Merchant’s “Kind and Generous” came on.
I’m very familiar with the song, and yes, I like it! I turned it up, did some paperwork, and listened. I found myself humming the song, and eventually I begun singing along. Essentially… it’s a praise song, she’s just praising someone else. But, as I heard her sing the words, it’s as if it might as well should have been my own words.
“You’ve been so kind and generous…. I don’t know why you keep on giving. For your kindness, I am in debt to you. And I never could have gone this far without you. For everything you’ve done, you know I’m bound to thank you for it.”
The song is full of “thank yous” and admirations full of love, kindness and generousity being poured out. Her song became my own, and I found myself singing it long after the song had ended. As I sung the tune, sitting there working on paperwork, with tears in my eyes… the goodness, kindness, and generosity of God was overwhelming, and memories of God’s faithfulness began to overtake the memories of a troublesome and hurtful past that has been used as a source of condemnation in my present.
Through two simple little songs, God had shown me His immeasurable love for me, and that my joy IS there, only that I have to fight just a little longer to maintain, keep it, and share it with others. It is a struggle, I’ll admit. My heart is full of pain, hurt, remorse, regrets, etc…. but I’m amazed… always… at how God uses ANYTHING to connect with me personally. To get His point across and to show His love for me.
Keep me in prayer, as I do you. I love you, guys… and on a more personal note… thank you for bearing with me in the process of my sudden need to vent and the spilling of my guts!
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”