What’s wrong baby? If you can’t talk to me or God, who will you talk to.
My wife’s words have been piercing me lately. The past three weeks have been one of the most challenging periods of my life. The ups and downs have been almost unbearable, and what’s even worse, is the distance I’ve felt from God and my wife. What do you do when you’re at a crossroads in life, making you question everything?
Don’t stop waiting on God.
But how does one wait on God? This being, who at times, can seem non-existent. What do you do when it seems God is not speaking to you at all?
Are you listening?
Remember, it is a still small voice we search out. Sometimes we need shut up, and stop engaging in the chaos of the world. I promise the world will be right where you left it.
Recently my anxiety/depression has led to such panic, that just trying to make it to my car to drive myself to work has been agony. I’ve been fearing that I’ll run into the back of another car, or that giant Semi-truck will run into me. I drive into New York City almost everyday for my job, and I’m so grateful to have a job especially in our economic crisis, but my fears of city driving and being stuck in traffic on the George Washington bridge is so palpable. Some days it takes everything inside me to not drive myself off a bridge.
I just finished reading the book of Job from the Bible for the second time. I’ve been obsessed with Job’s story, his struggle and the way he wrestled with God. Job felt that God had abandoned him completely. If you haven’t read Job, I encourage you to read it very slowly and prayerfully. Martin Luther, when referring to the book of Job, used two words: "magnificent and sublime". The french poet Victor Hugo described Job as "perhaps the greatest masterpiece of the human mind".
Personally, it reminds me of a Shakespeare play.
Job did not understand God’s judgement, as he lost his health, his wealth, even his children.
“Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon young people, and they are dead.” Job 1:18-19
Job endured more than any man I’ve ever heard of and I was especially fascinated with his unwillingness to turn his back on God through all of it. However, Job was not at all silent about Satan attacking him from every angle as Satan will try anything to persuade us to believe God does not care for us. Satan is the ultimate deceiver. He is identified in the Hebrew text “the Satan.” HAA-SahTahn (SahTahn is a Hebrew verb that means to be an adversary, to resist. In the noun form it is often rendered, "the Adversary or the Accuser"). And don't forget he is the most beautiful, attractive, and brilliant archangel God ever created.
What God allowed to happen to Job was unfair and as I said before Job felt utterly abandoned by God, and he made many appeals. He simply cried out asking, “Where is God in all of this.”
“Today also my complaint is bitter, my hand is heavy on account of my groaning. Oh that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before Him and fill my mouth with arguments. Behold, I go forward, but He is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive Him: on the left hand when he is working I do not behold him: he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. For He will complete what He appoints for me, and many such things are in His mind. Therefore I am terrified at his presence: when I consider, I am in dread of Him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; yet I am not silenced because of the darkness, nor because thick darkness covers my face”
Job 23: 2-4, 8-9, 14-17
What strong words of yearning for answers! Sound familiar?
I remember when I used be a much stronger person, when driving didn’t scare me. My wife recently asked me, “where’s the man I married who drove from Maryland to Pennsylvania in car with no brakes?” I used to own an old 1998 Ford Explorer, and despite all the time it spent sitting inside a mechanic shop (I can’t fix or do anything with a vehicle except put it in drive, reverse, and park), it still remains to be my favorite of all the vehicles I’ve owned and destroyed.
I was driving the old Explorer to Maryland with a friend to visit a car dealership to trade in my 'baby' for a newer more reliable car.
On the way down I felt the brakes getting weaker and weaker which stumped me. I had just had the brakes fixed for the third time by three different mechanic shops (by the way if anybody knows a good mechanic send me their info).
After my friend and I arrived at the dealership, I could feel that the brakes were almost gone so needless to say there was no trade made that day. Instead we pulled into the parking lot of a pharmacy to try to figure out what to do, as the brakes had completely burned out (I had to use the emergency brake to come to a complete stop). Neither me nor my friend had AAA, so towing us back to where I lived in Lancaster Pennsylvania was going to cost over six hundred dollars; an amount of money I did not have nor did I wish to spend.
I want to make it clear that what I decided to do next I would never do again nor would I recommend it to anyone.
I thought it might be possible to drive home using the low gears of the automatic transmission to slow down and the emergency brake to stop. I practiced in the parking lot of the pharmacy for a half hour so I could figure out a way to do it without burning out the emergency brake. It wasn’t even a hand brake, it was the kind where you have to push down the pedal and pull a lever to release it.
Believe it or not I figured out a system to drive this big SUV without any brakes, and when I say I had NO brakes, I mean literally nothing but the emergency brake.
I pulled out of the parking lot and said to my friend who was sweating bullets, “We’re going, and I don’t wanna hear how stupid this is, just pray and cheer me on.” My friend, Skip shouted, “You are out of your bloody mind!” He was trapped by me and my decision to drive us home (actually I can’t believe he stayed in the car), but as we drove on the interstate and I became more and more comfortable with the system I created, Skip began to trust me. After 2 hours of driving he said he almost forgot we didn’t have brakes, but then the right front tire blew and we skidded to the side of the road and thank God I was able to safely bring the vehicle to a stop.
From there we had to be towed, but I had driven so far that it only cost two hundred dollars! I never felt so alive! It was such a stupid thing to do yet as a man it felt so right, but my stupidity is not what I want you to focus on.
My friend had put a lot of faith in me. He trusted me with his life (not that he had choice, there was no way I was forking over six hundred dollars when I still had a perfectly good emergency brake). If you asked my friend about the incident, he would tell you he couldn’t believe the way I worked that big old SUV brake-less, and how easily I slowed down for turns and how he slowly began to trust me not knowing for certain what the future held (I’m not bragging about my driving skills because I don’t have any and believe me I prayed continuously till the tire blew).
The same has been so with my walk with God. Slowly learning to trust Him more and more.
The irony is, like my old Explorer, I often feel as though I walk through life brake-less constantly trying to change to low gear and stomp on the emergency brake. Sometimes we need that emergency brake because sometimes (most of the time), it’s better to take life slow; see it as a process, not as a zero-sum-game.
Trials are going to come.
You will either wait on God, or try to do it all yourself (something I have a tendency to do) and it never gets me anywhere. Yet, as humans we are imperfect and often need the wisdom of Godly men and women who have been there and done it. So surround yourself with people who know more than you. Older people. Believe me, it’s wise to know your limits and not be afraid to ask for help.
Sometimes, we have to just simply trust.
Like my buddy Skip had faith in me to get us home safely, so also we must have faith that God has not and will never abandon us. The future may be uncertain or frightening like driving a brake-less vehicle, but the promise we have in Jesus Christ is certain.
He paid the price for us already.
It’s time to just buckle up and put your trust in He who so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. God did not abandon Job and he will not abandon you.
Wait on God. He waits for us, the least we can do is trust in Him.
Hollywood is for suckers
This past week I was honored to play the role of Paul in a play for Vacation Bible School at my father-in-law’s church. I had been depressed for a while about not having any offers on my table from the professional world of acting. Acting is my passion and I’ve always had the dream of being in a Hollywood film. Lately my attitude toward Hollywood has taken an unexpected turn. I see a lot of unhappy fellow actors scrambling for attention and status that they can’t live without, and I feel sorry for them.
Being in a small VBS production is humbling, however, I was told that one of the kids attending loved seeing Paul every night of VBS. The last night of VBS her family went out to dinner and this little girl cried because she thought they were going to be late and she didn’t want to miss seeing Paul.
After I heard that, I began to see things a little differently. That little girl will never forget Paul. Imagine if I had been too busy to be involved with this small VBS production. Perhaps that little girl would have missed out on something that she needed to hear. More to the point, I also would have missed out on a great reward; knowing that I reached the heart of such a young audience member.
To me, that is worth more than the biggest movie in Hollywood with a giant budget. Hollywood is full of fluff and effects...
But God has no fluff, he’s all heart and all knowing. He provides ultimate satisfaction to those that seek him. God responded to Job with these words:
Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.
Job 38:12-13, 16-18
That’s a response that’ll put more hair on your chest than a Starbucks espresso. Job was challenged to trust. Can you imagine losing all you have and hold dear, your wife tells you to curse God and die, you appeal to God, and he answers by declaring his supreme majesty?
I know it’s a tough pill to swallow, but sometimes we have to just say to ourselves, “God’s training me for something right now. I don’t know what exactly, I don’t know how it’s gonna happen, but I know I’m in good training.”
I encourage you...in your darkest hour, keep waiting! Don’t let Satan force you into impulsive actions. Satan would have your head spinning with worry and despair, but God would have you wait in training to become the man or woman he created you to be, to see his glory shine through you in ways you couldn’t possibly imagine.
Have faith. Be patient. God is listening.
Are you listening? Are you waiting?
I don't understand why I have chronic panic attacks affecting me mentally and physically. It's unfair. It doesn't make sense, but I'm willing to fight the battle God has given me. I'm willing to wait for the answer that perhaps I'm not yet ready to hear. I'm willing to wait for God’s timing.
I encourage you to fight and wait with me. Be patient with the creator of this vast universe.
He's patient with us. He deserves our pledge of allegiance. And He is faithful. Just as he restored Job, so also he will restore us with his unwavering peace.
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.