Paradise Lost

I often marvel at the Christian walk.  Each Christian is running a race, but not against anyone else.  Rather the race is the one set before us by the Lord, and each race is different and each goal in a different place, but the ultimate end for all is the same — salvation and eternal life with the Father.

Sometimes I see a brother or sister in Christ who seems to be running full tilt toward their goal.  They are so busy with good works and studies and teachings that it makes me winded to watch them!  Other times I might see that same beloved one sitting on the sidelines.  They are in ‘time-out’ — not a bad thing, but often frustrating as patience wears thin waiting on the Lord.  Such is our lot — we run our races (if we are smart) under the direction and tutelage of the Holy Spirit, sometimes full speed ahead, sometimes in idle.  But we are always conscious of the prize, and though some might not admit it we sometimes wonder if we are going the right direction!

I’ve had days like all of the above.  I’ve run so fast that the trees seem to bend down as I race past.  Other times I’ve been sidelined — sometimes by the Lord, as He puts me in ‘receiving’ mode to receive more instruction, and sometimes by the enemy as he attacks with health, financial or relationship issues.  Every single time that I have been ‘benched’ I was aware of a companion on the bench with me — the Holy Spirit.

Until this last time-out.  This wasn’t just any time-out.  This one was walking death as the enemy succeeded in putting me in the pit — existing as one dead in the grave even while walking the earth.  After years of walking with the Lord through mountain and valley, land-mines and quicksand, I was in a place where I didn’t think the Lord could reach me.  The paradise I had found in Him was blown away in a nuclear holocaust and all I could see around me was the dirt that covered my living grave.

My reactions were numbed as I walked through the days and weeks and months that followed as one in shock.  I couldn’t cry.  I couldn’t laugh.  My face became a stony fallen mask which matched the stony fallen heart inside of me.  I lost friends and family and consequently retreated so far away from people that the only freedom I knew was in sleep.  The paradise of my love affair with Jesus was lost to me, as I cried out for mercy, for understanding, for explanation, for peace, for hope, for HELP!  I don’t know how long I walked in that state before I realized that the Holy Spirit was helping me through each day and, when I would listen, was speaking through Holy Scripture to my wounded spirit.

I was benched for a very long time.  It was over a year before any real progress was noticeable as my psyche began to reawaken and the shock wore off.  I was finally able to cry — great, heaving, wracking sobs and rivers of tears.  How good it felt to cry!  I felt alive again as I was able to feel again.  Now, almost two years since the enemy’s onslaught, I am whole again.  I am alive again.  I am almost normal again!  But I will never be the same again.

There is one other thing:  my relationship with the Lord will never be the same again.  What once was a carefree, honeymoon-like relationship has morphed into something much deeper and much more meaningful.  Gone are the jump-in-the-rain-puddle days of our relationship.  They have been replaced with a calmer depth of understanding, accompanied by quiet, unassuming obedience.  I entered into the kingdom of heaven as a child and while I was there, the King helped me mature into an adult.

No, I’ll never be the same again.  Because of this experience, I will be oh-so-much more!

Thank you, Father.

Deuteronomy 31:6  Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

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