Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
“Come to me all you weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take up my yoga upon you and learn from me. You will find rest for your soul; for my yoga is peace and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28
Yeah, Jesus has been calling to me like that for a long time. What does that look like? sound like?
In 2009 I dropped into a depressive pit I couldn’t climb out of. I left home and young family to paddle out onto the river and shoot myself. Suicide had not been a “go to” in my mindset previously, though depression of sorts had been for some time. The depression (though pride wouldn’t allow me to acknowledge it as such at the time) I chalked up to a kind of “get what you pay for” on the heels of years of drinking, family and marital neglect and the not too far distant adultery I had to claim in my marriage, though unknown to anyone, but myself. And God.
So there I stood, not in my kayak, but rather on the edge of the Abyss. I knew I was going to hell. That’s why I had started taking our then two children to church. I was going to hell and wanted something more for them. I wanted them to live satisfying lives as they grew and raised their own families. Church was the only “good” thing I knew of and I would soon realize how little I knew of that.
So as I stood there, somehow I understood, to some extent, how bottomless, endless, black and entirely void of goodness it was that which I was facing. I became scared. I don’t ever recall becoming scared before that. How many disasters had I entered into through drinking? Really, how many times I had come out unscathed through circumstances that skirted death? The unawares, I couldn’t count and the rest made me shiver to consider many involved others through my foolishness and folly. But my shame bottomed out in my unfaithfulness to my wife. Regardless of how twisted I could make my justifications, for whatever poor choice I would make next, that fact remained that in this current moment I was standing in a field reaping what I had shown. And the crop was rotten.
“Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.” You got it! I could hear those words like it was Grandma singing right there beside me. I will never forget the conversation that transpired next. But as I continue, know this moment comes following a span of time I had been bringing our our daughter and son to church. Even coming to lead their Sunday school classes.
And oh yeah, it impressed everyone, too. My then wife and I didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, just one of which was religion. I grew up lutheran. She grew up catholic. I would later learn that we both held reservations of faith that were justified, only in that time we didn’t know squat about religion or faith and were so susceptible to falsehood we couldn’t see it to shake hands with it. Let alone understand it was Jesus we really needed. And it was that which I was unwittingly confessing now.
But apparently I had people’s attention. I mean really, how many thirty something men are in church alone with thier young kids, infants even, changing diapers and bringin’ em to the house o’ God! I had to be doing something right, right?
That falsehood stuff? It was over years, ok? And in time our marriage was crumbling. But I had it going on. I mean even regarding our marriage, I came from a background and foundation of parenting in my own upbringing where, well, how could I fail? And now I even teach Sunday School? Come on…got it going on! Except while both of us are feeling the weight of neglect and falsehood, even self-deception, we grow farther apart. Needs still exist, and for me, they are getting fullfilled illegitimately…and back to church on Sunday.
“Jesus loves me this I know.” Except I didn’t. I taught Sunday school lessons from work books given to me and made paper Easter eggs with children telling made up stories why we did that…Unwittingly confessing Jesus.
And I said so. In that boat with that .25 in my lap staring at nothing, I said, “Jesus, I don’t know anything about you. If you are who you say you are, I am finished. I have nowhere else to turn. I have nowhere else to go
No, I didn’t go to hell that day. Now it’s gates I’ll never see. I’ve come to know there is a Way through the truth that came to me. The Truth I learned became a man. The man became the Way. The Way became a way of Life and gave me life that day.
I don’t know where that pistol is anymore. I don’t know what I did with it. I don’t even know if I brought it back with me, threw it in the river or anything. I know a couple hours later I was back home and no one knew what happened that day for almost two years. What a shame.
But that was nearly ten years ago. I am glad to say now, along with Mary, “My spirit rejoices in my God my savior.” Thank you, Jesus!