Take a moment and decide in your mind what is the most solid, substantial and immovable citadel of strength in your life—for your life.
Got it? Good. Now hold it in your mind as we proceed.
If it’s the Lord and your relationship, wonderful. I’d hoped that was the answer you came up with but if not, fine. You still need to identify your main source of strength in order to make sense of—and have a frame of reference for—what I’m about to discuss.
With reference to salvation (a Christian’s saving faith) consider this statement of Paul’s: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19, emphasis mine) I like that. Most miserable (keep this in mind too).
For those with faith and hope in Christ—those who know they’re going to Heaven—imagine if you will, that knowledge gone. This is what Paul is saying right? We’ve accepted Jesus and one of the exclusive benefits of being a Christian (Aside from knowing Him. His peace, comfort, joy and love.) is eternal life with Him in Heaven. But what if it turned out to be a hoax? Something fake and flimsy and insubstantial. Before I go any further, I would like to say that this very thing is what unbelievers of a certain bent have been trying to prove for eons without success. The reason I would like to draw this distinction is to touch on the fact that (in my opinion) few Christians ever stop and consider one of the main undercurrents of their happiness and strength. That is, their salvation. And if it were gone, how they’d do anything to get it back. Something to ponder if you’ve got time. Or guts. Or both.
What I’m trying to do here is show that for my life, the very thing that was the undergirding source of strength—the thing that I always felt but never thought about one whit—was my family. Starting with my parents’ marriage, I suppose. Therefore, if I ever flashed on the concept of divorce when growing up, it was unreal. Like a non-existent notion. Yeah, it was “the kind of thing that always happened to someone else”, but to me it was even less than that. It wasn’t even on my radar as a possibility.
That’s one of the reasons I took such a nosedive when I saw the simple, nigh imperceptible fissures in my parents’ happy-marriage facade, turn into a canyon…
I had a dream as a young child. I saw myself (as my vantage point was from without) through the passenger-side window of a little, primer-grey hatchback. I suppose I had my seatbelt on. Either way, I was slumped down and looking out the window as my dad drove along—both quite miserable. Most miserable. I should point out that there was a third person in back. The dream took place when I was seven or eight and while my brother didn’t come along until I was ten, I believe it was him. Who else could it be? I say all of that to say that the road on which we were traveling ran lengthwise through an enormous canyon. The dream made no sense to me until after the separation and divorce took place—fifteen-plus years later.
This entry isn’t about bridging the canyon, getting to the other side. It’s not about why the divorce happened. It’s about the mental, spiritual, emotional toll it took and the fallout that only God could deliver me from. It took time. Thankfully I had both.
When the Bible says that if you “Commit thy works to the Lord…thy thoughts shall be established” (Proverbs 16:3), it’s not kidding. Maybe those who haven’t “committed their works to the Lord” (Christian and non) have a semblance of “establishment” in their thought life. It doesn’t make the scripture any less true. With the torment and psychological damage I’d received by having the slats knocked out from under me, I know that had I not committed, I could very well have been committed. Bad pun, I know. But it’s true. I literally could not think straight. People marveled at my lack of focus! How could they understand when I didn’t even understand? But here’s the kicker: I probably might have gained some semblance of sanity had I denied God. Had I turned my back and my talents on Him. The devil sought to use my talents and sensitivity against me. This is horrifying. As God gives gifts and talents to those He creates (i.e. everyone). And as those gifts and talents are to be used in His service, I believe anyone who is straddling the fence, flirting with lukewarmness (see Revelation 3:16) as I was, will meet with horrible opposition in order to choose one side or the other. Romans chapter eight, verse twenty-eight says that “God works all things together for good”. This verse is quoted by modern, mainstream Christianity ad nauseam. And it’s totally true, Paul qualifies it with “to them that love Him, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” The latter includes everyone. You, me, them (Who? Everyone.). The former, however… Well, it’s obvious not everyone loves God. And while my love for Him has grown exponentially since it began (this stuff began in 2002), you could say it was dormant down deep inside me and that while the devil “thought evil against me, God meant it unto good.” (Genesis 50:20, Joseph speaking). I discovered that I was not the person I thought I was. All the misery. All the confusion and mental torment. All the nightmares. Everything has come full circle and God has indeed cleaned up the detritus from the divorce.
This is why I’m not afraid to imagine myself going to hell. Because I know I’m not. This is good news, please don’t let that scare you. In spite of the fact that I accepted the Lord at four years old, I had never lived as unto the Lord and had consequently layered stratum upon stratum of unbelief and bad decisions and neglect on top of my salvation experience. So bad was it that there were long stretches of time that I thought I was destined for hell. Like I was permanently tainted and unworthy to be reconciled with God. When I mentioned that I had God, what I mean is that I never stopped believing—knowing that He existed, so suicide was out of the question. But coupled with time (which I also had, as I mentioned earlier), God was able to drill through the hardness of my heart and effectively replace it with “a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).
See, we truly are saved when we accept Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). It’s the hard work of renewing one’s mind (see Romans 12:1-2) to His word—His thoughts—that tell in the end. As I’ve mentioned before, what other endeavor is more important? Without it, we are bound to be most miserable. I hope this helps.
God bless you.