The last year (since about June 1st of last year) has been a tough one for me. Full of personal strife and struggles, conflicts and challenges, emotions and failures. I’m used to going from mountaintops to valleys, but after a year spent mostly in the valley, last Sunday morning, I woke up with an odd sensation in the pit of my stomach that when I began to examine it looked suspiciously like a desire to commit suicide.
I got out of bed and dragged myself into the living room, curled up in my recliner, and turned on my i-Pod. And when I heard a song about Heaven, it seemed to confirm that maybe there isn’t anything left here, on earth for me to do. Maybe Heaven is where I’m supposed to be.
There were a lot of voices in my head last Sunday morning. I knew that I was riding on a wave of emotions. I also knew that I couldn’t kill myself… that it was wrong. And I also knew that I couldn’t let myself drown in my emotions… mostly because my work ethic wouldn’t allow me to. I knew that my boss, 55 staff members, 145 campers, and their parents were all counting on me to show up that evening to check them in to camp. And that obligation—that responsibility—kept me on my feet instead of curling up in a corner like I wanted to.
On my way to work, I sent out a quick plea to about three friends—via email—to pray for me. I was too weak to fight alone. I needed help and I knew it and thankfully, I knew where I could get it.
That evening, after my 200 had arrived to camp, moved into their rooms, and settled in for the evening service, on the spur of the moment, I grabbed one of my staff members—a pastor who I’ve traveled in the mission field with twice—and asked him to join me for my rounds. And as we walked the perimeter of the Tabernacle, I told him about my recent desire to kill myself.
Because I know Barry very well, I wasn’t surprised when he began to cry. And as we sat on a bench and he began to speak, with tears running down his face, the depression began to break apart and fall away.
At the Potter’s House
1 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD : 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
5 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
I stared at the floor, wondering why I—usually a big crybaby—couldn’t muster any tears, even as I watched the tears fall down Barry’s face. Ashamed of my lack of feeling, I stared at the pattern in the carpet as my friend began to speak:
“Sarah, do you remember when God told Jeremiah to go down the Potter’s House? The clay goes around and around on the spinning wheel and the Potter’s hands shape it. And sometimes, after a while, those hands will crush the clay back down and begin again—but the clay is ALWAYS in the Potter’s hands. And even once the Potter finishes making the vessel, He puts it in the fire and bakes it and makes it strong.
“Sarah, do you remember the story of the three Hebrew children? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? They were bound when they were thrown into the furnace. But the flames burned off their bonds and they were free! They were never more free than when they were in the furnace! And when they were in the furnace, that’s when Jesus showed up. In the furnace was where they saw Jesus. And the world could look in from the outside and see Jesus, too.
“Sarah, I don’t know where you are right now… Whether you’re clay that’s on the wheel, being crushed. Or whether you’re being put in the fire. But I know that God’s not done with you yet. And I know that He’s doing something in you. And through you.”
Barry laid his big hand on my shoulder and began to pray. Though my tears didn’t come until days later, that very moment, I knew that the crisis had passed and that I was on my way to healing…
Lord, I don’t know where I am either. But I know that I’m in Your hands while I’m there.