It’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen my friend, Eliza, but I still hear her voice in my head a lot.
“It’s okay to be where you are, as long as you don’t stay there.”
“God loves you just as you are. He just loves you too much to leave you that way.”
But today, the Eliza-ism that came back to me was this one:
“God will let you take the same test over and over again until you pass it.”
I thought of suicide for the first time when I was 13 years old, but that wasn’t nearly the last time I thought of it. Over the years, that particular demon has hounded my heels. And when the going gets tough, he chants to me in the middle of the night – “It never gets better. Life is always this hard and it never gets better. You’d be better off dead.” But each time I’ve heard this voice, I’ve managed to shush it, push it away, ignore it, fight past it. And each time the voice has stopped, I’ve thought, “Maybe now, I’ve passed this test and I won’t have to take it again.”
I can’t believe it’s been five years since I first admitted this struggle to the world. It’s on YouTube, if you’re wanting to see what that was like. I may be smiling on that stage, but it was all I could do to walk up there. And I wished the words I shared could have been anything else but what they were. But it was the truth, and I had to own it.
Bob Sorge says a couple of things in this last chapter of our discussion on “The Fire of Delayed Answers” that resonate and make me think.
First, he says, “The enemy will reserve his heaviest artillery for the times when we are weakest.”
Ain’t that the truth? We say, “When it rains, it pours.” And as I said last week, sometimes, it seems like when I just don’t think I can take one more disaster, three more show up on my doorstep. The enemy is good at kicking us when we’re down. It’s one of his favorite hobbies. But if he can get us to quit, then he’s won. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that!
That leads into the next thing – “If you give into the impulse and indulge the flesh, you will be casting away your confidence. You will disqualify yourself from God’s blessing.” And that takes me back to when I was 13 and first contemplated suicide… look at all I would have missed. I would have missed meeting and loving so many people. I would have missed years of working in ministry and the mission field. There are children I wouldn’t have gotten to hold, and for that matter, teenagers and adults who I wouldn’t have gotten to hold/hug/love. I can’t imagine missing Nick’s laugh or the way Andy’s eyes light up when he smiles. Or Rick’s “Hallo!” coming over the telephone line. Or Dale’s hugs. I would have missed singing to the Pacific the first time I saw it or wrestling with Odessa or sitting with Sage’s head on my lap while I stroke her hair. I would have missed butter-carving with The Grovers, and that breath-taking experience of my first glimpse of the Columbia River Gorge. I would have missed listening to a roomful of Congolese singing hymns in Lingala (tribal language) and realizing that the word “Hallelujah” is the same in both languages and that we could all sing together and understand each other – even if it was only one word.
How could I even entertain the possibility that I would’ve missed one blessed moment of this incredibly rich life that God has given to me?
Oh, that God will continue to cling to me and help me to cling to Him so that I can continue to see and live in His blessings for as many years as He continues to give me breath!
This post is the final installment of a weekly book discussion that my co-facilitator, Jason Stasyszen and several of our friends have been having on Bob Sorge’s book, “The Fire of Delayed Answers.” You are welcome to comment whether you’ve read any of the book or not! If you have read and written a response to this week’s chapter, feel free to link it up at the widget below. And stay tuned! We will be taking a short break from the book discussion, but will be making an announcement soon about which book we will take on next!
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