Friday, October 22, 2010

it's Time to talk about suicide

"Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there was none of them." Psalm 139:18

I recently spoke with a dear friend whose illness often drains the life from her, and the darkness closes round and she simply wants it all to end.  I know how pain, mental or physical or both, can steal the sunlight from our days and haunt our nights.  Sometimes it seems they cannot be borne.

If you are contemplating this way out, my advice to you is : DON'T DO IT!

Do not let the evil one, the king of liars, infect your soul with the desire. 

God has a great plan for your life, It sometimes feel like that is not true.

But it is,

The devil wants you to think it will just end and it will all be over.  Instead, you will be facing a Holy God Who wants to know why you took the gift He gave you and threw it away. If you don't know Him already, please visit my church's website and find out how to know Him. Please believe me when I say that you are loved by a Being Who created you for joy, Who has watched every breath you have ever taken, Who has seen every rotten, secret thing you have ever done and Who, in spite of it all, loves you so much He died rather than live without you.  If you doubt that statement, ask Him to show you His love, ask Him to open your eyes to see - and then watch for His love to be shown to you - because He will move heaven and earth to gather you into His arms and comfort you.

There is another reason I beg you not to end your life:

Suicide kills.

It kills every person left behind that knew you - that misses  you,  You will personally destroy any and all of your family and friends who cared.

Each one will wonder every day, "Did I say/do something that caused this?  Am I to blame for this wonderful person leaving us?"  Your parents will go over and over and over your last conversations "  Could I have picked this up?  How could I not have known?  What did I do wrong.?"

The questions will go on and on for the rest of their lives , and there will never, ever be any answers because you took them all with you. 

For the rest of their lives they will live with the pain you chose not to deal with - you will multiply it one hundredfold on every person who ever knew/loved/cared for you.

I know people living in this hell.  I hear from one in particular every year on the day they found her son dead by his own hand.

That was 20 years ago.

It never ends.

When your pain seems to have reached beyond what you can bear, talk first to Jesus about it. You don't have to be fancy, just be yourself - talk to Him the same way you would talk to anybody else. Then read Psalm 139 and see how very much God does care about you.  You did not happen by chance, you were not a mistake, you were known by God even before the moment the spark of life entered the egg.  You were planned.  And this illness is part of the plan.

God has entrusted you with something hard.  It isn't easy to face the hard things day after day without let up, alone, perhaps home bound or wheelchair bound.  So many things you used to do to bring joy to your heart you are no longer capable of doing.  But He is there with you, walking each day with you, as close as breathing.

Pain carries darkness in its back pocket.  It will swallow you whole if you let it.  Instead turn to Jesus and let His light flow in.

But how do I do that?

The best way I have found is through worship, praise, and prayer.

When you know Jesus Christ personally, despair is not an option - it cannot survive with faith alongside it. They are mutually exclusive because, with God there is always hope, and nothing - nothing is impossible to Him.

Tell God how awful everything is face to face - exactly the way you would to a friend, because He is the best friend you will ever have.  Offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, especially when you can find nothing to thank Him for - thank Him anyway.  Think of all of God's attributes, His holiness, His mercy, His love  Open your heart to Him.

If the pain is too bad, talk to your doctor about increasing pain meds.  If the pain is not physical, talk to your pastor - he can tell if you need a referral to somewhere to get help.


Jesus knows all about pain.  Physically He died one of the most painful kinds of deaths there are.  He was alone, truly alone in the universe for the first and last time in all eternity. He was spat on, they pulled out His beard, they ripped His back to pieces with a whip which had rocks and nails in it to tear and shred. It was designed to cause the most pain and the most blood loss.

He knows well about pain.

He wants to carry it with you,

Please, please, please -

Let Him,

Sunday, October 10, 2010


"So Satan answered the LORD and said, 'Does Job fear God for nothing?  Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, around all that he has on every side?..." Job 1:1,2a NKJV

I've been thinking a lot about hedges lately.

Hedges can be many things.  They are protection - they help keep things out.

But they also keep things in.

Hedges hide things.  And some hedges are fruit bearing.

I remember as a kid walking home form school past a hedge with berries.

I think every kid in the fifth grade knew that hedge.

We'd stop and gather a few on the way home.  They were crisp and purple and slightly sweet.  They flowered beautifully in the spring, and we kept a close eye on their progress.

The girls would snatch a few and move on.  The boys would grab a handful and have berry fights, leaving the sidewalk full of purple splotches.  Or they'd throw them at us girls, leaving us full of purple splotches.

More than one hedge enclosed dogs that barked and snarled like they had rabies, and their hedges bore larges signs with red letters that said BEWARE OF THE DOG. Some of them sounded so scary I would cross the street before I got to that house.

Some hedges had flowers.  Some had thorns.  Some had flowers and thorns.

Some hedges enclosed private gardens, with sweetly burbling fountains heard clearly through the hedge.

CI is a type of hedge.

Sometimes it has thorns that prick and nettle.  Sometimes they scratch and make us itch.  Sometimes they are so tall we can see nothing but our illness.  Sometimes they "hedge us in" so tightly we have no room to move and nowhere to look - except up.  And sometimes they protect us in ways we will never know until heaven.

I began to wonder if my particular hedge held the snarling dog or the secret garden. 

I discovered that sometimes it holds one, and sometimes it holds the other.

There are times when all I can do is look up - when the pain is winning or the fatigue is battering or my muscles are aching or I can't focus my thoughts enough to accomplish anything.  That dog is snarling in my ears and I must either look up or huddle in the darkness.

There is One Whose presence can quiet the snarling and barking and replace them with a life-giving fountain of Living Water that burbles and freshens my spirit like nothing else can. 

It all depends on where I'm looking.

If I concentrate on the hedge itself, I feel confined and deprived and ready to huddle in the darkness and pity myself for my "hard lot".

If I look up, my spirit can fly free and recognize that if Jesus picked this hedge for my life, it must be good, as all He does is good.  He has things for me to learn that can be learned no other way.  For my particular kind of soul needs these lessons given in this way, whereas someone else can perhaps learn them on an easier path.

Where Job's hedges kept all of his wealth and his children and his choices, they also limited him in the paths he could choose, and he learned well which ones to choose because of his love of his God.  When the hedges were moved ever closer and closer, and began to hedge things out and him in, the lessons he had learned earlier stayed with him.  He refused to curse God and die,as his loving wife counselled him.  Instead he continued to talk to God, asking for a judge Who could translate for God what it meant to be human, how hard he had tried to "be good" and how unfair it was for a nice guy like him to have to suffer so much.

At one point he said "Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in?  For my sighing comes before I eat, and my groans pour out like water...I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest for trouble comes." [Job 23,24,26 NKJV]

Yet after God comes and questions him, Job realizes he spoke of things of which he had no knowledge, things which were too great for him.

And so do I when I question the hedges He has enclosed me with - truly I have no idea why He chose them for me, what He is accomplishing by them, how long they will last.

But I have learned that when I cannot understand, I am to trust.  When the going gets rough I am to worship.  When I cannot stand another moment, I am to throw myself upon Him and offer the sacrifice of praise when it is the last thing I feel like doing. And I pray that my hedge will be one of the ones that bear fruit.

When the sons of Abraham say a blessing, it always begins with, "Blessed art Thou O LORD God, King of the Universe, Creator of (whatever the blessing entails "fruit of the vine" or "the growing of grain for bread" or "the giving of life"or "the hedges that enclose me")  I often begin my prayers that way because it reminds me that the King of the universe is my God, that all things are possible to Him, that He created me, and chose this hedge for me.  All the ways of the LORD are good.

Even this.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

East of Eden

"The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed." 
Genesis 2:8 NKJV

I think God has an affinity for gardens.

He could have begun the world anyway He chose.

Instead of starting it out impersonally, drearily striking primordial ooze with a stray bolt of lightning (which, incidentally, doesn't make life) He chose to carefully prepare a glorious creation.  He made unimaginably complex and beautiful plants and animals and an intricate footprint of life called DNA, which even a "simple single-celled organism" contains - thereby cancelling the concept of a "simple single-celled" anything.

He prepared so carefully for man, with grasses to soothe bare feet, and trees to shade them (and provide perches for singing birds to please them.)  He made animals small and great, some utilitarian and some, I think, just to make us laugh aloud with joy - seriously now, a rhinoceros?  With sheets of metal skin and that horn on its nose?  Have you ever really looked at a giraffe?  A duck-billed platypus?  A raccoon? Plus He made some to astound us with size - Elephants  and grizzly bears- and beauty - Bengal tigers or leopards or majestic lions.  Some were small and cuddly looking, like Koalas and spider monkeys.  And some are soft and furry - loving kitties or doggie companions.  He even made tiny bugs intricately - aerodynamically-challenged bumblebees that don't know they can't fly and happily buzz their days away.  Hummingbirds that defy flight patterns by doing it backwards and upside down.  And that giver of summer magic, the firefly - sparkling in the long summer grasses on hot, sticky evenings.

Each one of these were Hand crafted lovingly for the delight of the last ones He made: mankind.  Man is the only created being with an awe and appreciation of beauty, who gazes in wonder at redwood forests and giant Sequoias and seaweed forests filled with colorful animals.  It has always amazed me that His fish have abundant, heart stopping color - as do corals of all shapes and sizes - and yet the color disappears the deeper you get in the water.  It waited for man and his artificial light sources to see the corals at their finest - and deeper yet, submersible subs that go so deep there is no light at all - except for the animals themselves, pulsating with glorious neon lights that thrill the spirit.

The sheer diversity of life and its stunning complexity will often drop me face down before Him in awe.

And yet, this beautiful, glorious, heart-stoppingly amazing world around us is tainted and broken, thanks to Adam - and if this is broken and tainted, what must Eden have been?  What will heaven be? We can't even begin to imagine the answers to those questions - and all of it is for our delight. 

How His Father-Heart must have delighted in the finishing touches - giving that animal especially soft fur for cuddling, and then tacking that wee light onto the firefly's bottom,  no doubt seeing generations of future children thrilling to this wonder-filled dancing light on lawns and gardens.

When days are long and difficult, filled with pain or infirmity, it's hard to get jazzed over a few twigs and bugs.  But the more I meditate on God's love of beauty, the more I begin to see that He is in the process of "beautifying" me!  The pain makes a wonderful sandpaper for bringing out those rough things that need to be smoothed.  My self-centered heart needs to learn to look beyond today's difficulties and see the beauty He has promised to us as He changes us, not from scuzbag to less scuzzybag, but "from glory to glory" (how that phrase astounds me!)  The garden He is planting in our heart is a secret place where He comes, as of old, in the coolness of the evening, to join  us and refresh us after a bad day.  He even speaks of the dangers of "roots" of bitterness, and how "love of money" is the "root" of all evil.  And yes, it is possible to have a love of money even when you have none.  Perhaps especially when you have none. It is then that the temptation to bend rules to acquire money has its greatest power.

There are weeds of the soul as well as weeds of the soil - and the locusts of pain and fear can make the soul as barren as any empty dry field.

For me the comfort comes in knowing that He Himself planted that first garden.  And He Himself planted the one that is growing, right now, in my heart of hearts.  And when things go bad, the pain is ferocious, or I have stumbled so badly I'm struggling with guilt and shame, He is there, in the garden, waiting for me with open arms.

And He waits for  you, too - just a little east of Eden.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It rained today

"As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for you."  Psalm 42:1

It rained today.

When  you live in the desert, it's a wonderful thing. 

Sometimes the sky is a searing iron, and the rays of heat radiate from the street or sidewalk in wavy lines that paint mirages of phantom lakes in the roadways.  Everything is parched, dry, dusty.

And then it comes.

The clouds puff up like blobs of shaving cream spurted from a can.

Then the clouds get dirty feet, and the gray spreads upwards until the sky is made of billowing swirls that get darker and darker.


Lightning flashes across the sky, sometimes flaring sideways and never touching the ground.  A distant rumble grumbles towards you.  Then another flash, perhaps some virga showing in the distance (rainfall that never touches the ground).  The puffs start to smooth out, another flash, a closer grumble - then another even closer and finally crashing through the heavens above the house.  The first drops are timid - and the size of silver dollars.  They dry almost instantly.  A cool wave of air comes and then - the heavens open.

I had never seen rain the way it rains here.  From two drops to a torrent so thick you can't see the nearby hills.  The arroyos ( ditches) and water channels fill and surge with brown angry water that pushes boulders down the washes as if they were pebbles.  Flash floods come racing down the streets until they, too are aswirl with water. 

And then, drop by drop, it slows.  The sky clears the tiniest bit and rays of light like the dawning of creation poke holes in the heavens and shine down like spotlights.  Everything glistens.  A bird sings as if in celebration.  The air feels fresh and new.  An occasional deflated little grumble reaches you as if from another country.  The storm has passed by.

I was cheering God's unmeasurable power and praising aloud in wonder while I watched all of this.
When you live in the desert,  you know what it is to pant for water.  Your eyes seem always to be seeking shade.  You can't stand in the sun for long - you can actually feel your skin burning. 

In Israel, David spent a lot of time at En Gedi.  It's a hilly country, and the hills are full of little caves everywhere.  En Gedi means "stream of the wild goats" and the desert goats indeed wander by.  Even in the Spring, when I was there, it was dry and parched,. For miles around there is nothing but sand and hills and parched land.

And then you get a little farther into the wilderness, and you come upon a spring that trickles down through the rocks and fills a small pool.  Israeli families sometimes bring their children to wade and romp in the cooling water.  There are ferns in the rocks.  Greenery greets the eye and you feel a change in the air. Dancing through the deep silence comes the sound of sweetly trickling water.  It soothes your very soul.

It reminded me of Psalm 42:1.

And it perfectly describes how I feel sometimes about God.

My soul gets parched sometimes - I feel dry and dusty.  The heavens feel like iron and it seems to build like a thunderstorm until I'm driven  into His presence, to worship and pray for renewal.

And then it comes..

Sometimes it is drop by drop.

Sometimes it's like a thunderstorm, and His grace seems to fall all around me and wash me, refreshing my soul and setting that caged bird inside me singing.  My spirit lifts as if carried on a sweet zephyr of a wind, and comes to rest, face down at His feet.

So today, for whoever reads this, wherever you are, whenever you stumble on this little blog, I pray that you will know those sweet zephyrs of the soul, and you, too, will know the times of refreshing that come when your soul pants after Him.