Stepping Stones

Can you remember some of the worst days in your life? Easy to recall, aren’t they? Some of them have passed, and you have weathered that storm. You may be in a time of peace with bright hopes for the future; you may be in the eye of the storm – that momentary lull before the storm picks up speed again; or you may still be enduring the storm, wondering if it will ever end.

The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, divorce, illness, depression, oppression, disability, financial loss and hardship, abusive relationships, rejection, rejection, rejection – these are the worst days of our lives. Some people never manage to make it to the other side. These little ones are overcome by the circumstance and succumb, sometimes for life, to depression, dejection, sadness, and even suicide. They just can’t hang on.

I’ve been there – in the place where I just couldn’t hang on any longer, couldn’t fight against the tide any longer. I surrendered to the negative emotions swirling around me and let them feed my soul, breeding more negativity and, ultimately, complete hopelessness.

A dark night of the soul. A time when there is no right or wrong, no hope, no love, no hand to reach for, no possibility of escape. The darkness creeps in and threatens to drown. It sweeps over you like billows of clouds; dark, ominous, forbidding. No escape. No possible way to explain. People pass by and inside you scream “Notice me! Can’t you see I need help? Won’t someone rescue me?” Outside you manage a wry smile and after a brief moment of eye contact you drop your eyes away so the pain and madness are not exposed to unsympathetic eyes. With each contact the darkness draws you further down into its murky depths. Its hold has become like the tentacles of a giant octopus. You manage to shake free only to have another, stronger tentacle clasp you in its suffocating grip.

Escape. There is no escape in this life. There is no freedom, no rescue, no deliverer to set you free from the death-grip of the tyrant depression. Drugs. You can take drugs. Doctors give drugs. Get up and get yourself to a doctor for drugs. Lots of drugs. Mustn’t tell them you want to die. No….you must tell them you want help. Tell them you want to feel better. Tell them if they could only help you over this hump. Drugs – there is relief in drugs.

The drugs have side effects. Did someone tell you that? It doesn’t matter. The side effects are not as bad as the darkness. The drugs begin to work. After many days you discover that the black isn’t so black. It has become a dark grey. But the dark grey contains new monsters … the kind that invade your sleep and make you thirsty – so thirsty you think you will die if you don’t get a drink. There doesn’t seem to be enough water to quench the thirst. Perhaps something else . . .

No, mustn’t drink alcohol. They said so. Alcohol and drugs are deadly. Mustn’t. Wait….you have drugs. You can get alcohol. How much alcohol and how much drug would it take to be ‘deadly’?

You suddenly realize you are thinking. Calculating. Planning. Observing bodily responses to drugs. You are no longer in the pit: you have come out of it enough to be able to think. Perhaps not very clearly, but you are thinking.

Thought patterns shifting, changing, redirecting and looking outward instead of inward. Today is a good day because today you thought about something besides YOU. Today you thought about someone else. Today you got out of bed, showered, dressed and opened the front door. Today is a REALLY GOOD day. Until you realize you are out of drugs. PANIC! Have to see doctor for refill – can’t get one at the pharmacist without his okay. Calling….ring…ring…ring…automated response….hold….hold….hold. Can he see me? I’m out of drugs. PLEASE?!??! What do you mean ‘not today’? It’s FRIDAY! I can’t wait until Monday for drugs! I can’t! What do I do? Sorry? YOU’RE SORRY???? SLAM the telephone down. Panic. Anxiety. Palpitations. Can’t breathe.

Yes, I’ve been there. I’m one of those who made it through. I must tell you, though, I did not make it through on my own. I found that there is, indeed, a deliverer. One who held me in the dark, who whispered “Hold on” and “It’s almost over”. One who brought healing through his sweet words and gentle touch. If it were not for him, I would not be here.

The worst days and nights are stepping stones to greater days and glorious nights, if we allow the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ to come into our hearts and lives. He stands at the door of our hearts, knocking and waiting for us to open to him. When we invite him in (for he must be invited in – he is a gentleman and not a bully like satan) he begins a work in our lives that he will not stop until it is completed. He promises to never leave us or give up on us, and he always keeps his promises.

At this point in my life, I do not know what I would do without Jesus Christ. I am once again facing a “worst day”, but I face it knowing who my deliverer is and how faithful he is, and I am not afraid. What a mighty, loving, awesome God I serve! Thank you Jesus!

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