I lived most of my life from the broken places in me–letting the wounds and scars define me. I saw life through broken lenses. Most people do, and very few find a way out of it. We build walls around us, constructed of a pose that we can live behind–a story small enough to manage–designed primarily to hide the wounds and the fears. We don’t live, we keep up appearances. Jesus said the truth will set you free, and narrow is the path that leads to life and few find it. Not “Few will find salvation,” but few will find life. It’s not easy, it means throwing the lifelong security of avoidance out of the window, dealing with the wounds, and inviting healing. Jesus said he came to heal the broken-hearted and set the captive free, and he didn’t add “whether you participate or not.” There is a very specific reason Jesus asked the man at the pool of Bethesda “Do you want to get well?’ At first it sounds like a “well, duh” kind of question, but He really wants an answer here because many of us have grown so dependent on our wounds and our pose that life outside these walls seems too risky. We are afraid of hope. We are comfortable here–it is familiar–we fear what it may be like on the outside.
Fear is a nasty business, it keeps us in a place that feels manageable. It hurts too much to look at the wounds, and it hurts to hope to be free of them. Our enemy uses a thousand voices to fill us with enough fear to keep us imprisoned. We strike a deal with these voices; something like, “OK I will stay in this place if you will shut-up and leave me alone.” The agreement is made and we make due by setting up a small story to live in–never experiencing the Life we were meant to have in a much larger story.
I went to church for many years. I went to recovery groups for many years. I had lots therapy, and medication. Good things came from these experiences, things I needed, but they didn’t bring life or healing, and certainly not freedom. They created in me a dependency on them along with a great fear of leaving (damn fear again!). My desire for Life wasn’t met in these places, and the interpretation I got was either that I should just be more grateful for what I have (desire less), or I’m not doing enough, which leads to a lot of busyness, but no Life. Well, trying to fulfill my desire with gratitude and/or busyness led me to nearly self-destruct (again).
Thank God I was never able to completely kill my desire–I had to put it to sleep though so I could get on with trying to live a responsible life. It was awakened again a couple of years later by a book that was referred to me by a therapist. The book was “The Sacred Romance” by John Eldredge & Brent Curtis. I wont go into a lengthy description, and couldn’t do the book justice even if I did, but what I got from that book was a feeling of being pursued by a relentless God who wouldn’t give up on me. I never knew God to be that way. It was the other way around–I was supposed to pursue him, mainly by killing my desire and becoming very busy with things that I was told would make Him happy.
Another thing I got from the book was a desire for more of this Life that began to awaken in me, which I really didn’t understand. I researched the author, and picked up another of his books. I also learned that these guys put on retreats in Colorado. In August of 2012 I was at one of these retreats not knowing exactly what to expect, but just knew I wanted more. It was the most beautiful and painful weekend of my life. I can’t put words to all that happened there, but I can tell you God showed up. Not the God I had heard about my whole life, but my Father showed up. I faced the wounds, the scars, and He brought healing, and restoration. I left there free. My core problem hadn’t been addiction, alcoholism, depression…etc. it was fatherlessness.
“The deepest search in life, it seemed to me, the thing that in one way or another was central to all living was man’s search to find a father, not merely the father of his flesh, not merely the lost father of his youth, but the image of strength and wisdom external to his need and superior to his hunger, to which the belief and power of his own life could be united.” –Tom Wolfe
I was introduced to my Father that weekend, and He has been fathering me ever since. He told me I was his favorite and it feels even truer now. My walk on the “Narrow Path” has been good, and my intimacy with the Father is a priceless gift. Life isn’t easy; we live in the midst of a great war so in some ways its harder because I’ve joined the battle, but it is good–very good. My heart and my desire are now intact.
Some of you have known me most (or all) of my life and you know that my life’s battle was far bloodier than I can say here in a few paragraphs–my redemption has been more miraculous as well. I just felt like getting these things out there to try to let my friends know that there is Life to be had. No matter who you are or where you are. There is Truth outside of where you may be looking. Desire can lead you to it. Shoot for the narrow path; ask to be shown the Way, be uncomfortable, take risks, don’t shut down your heart, stray away from the norm, follow the Small Voice instead of the loud one, learn to shut down the enemy, and if Jesus asks if you want to get well, in the name of all that is holy, say “YES!” True strength isn’t found in denying the wounds it is found in feeling them, and permitting them be healed by the One who firmly stated “I came to heal the broken-hearted, and set the captive free.”