Psalm 107:2 says, “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.”
Walking around, living life yet completely dead inside. Is that possible? I believe it is…Because that was me.
"A Deep Slumber..."
Ever have one of those crazy dreams where you’re trying to do something you’ve done before but you can’t do it? They’re terrible! For me, I’ll have dreams about past jobs – usually it’s one where I am serving/bartending. I’m back in a restaurant and I am working hard trying to get a job done but I just cannot do it. I am unable to find and fill up the glasses with soda or pour beer fast enough to keep up. I struggle to find my way in a place that feels so familiar but I’m completely lost.
You basically just run in circles throughout the entire dream trying to complete one of many tasks but you can’t, no matter how hard you try you can’t even complete one thing. You’re tired before you even wake up.
When I think back on my life before I was walking with Jesus, it’s similar to one of those dreams. It’s almost like I was in a coma or something. I can hardly believe it was me!
If you do a quick internet search, it defines a coma as a state of deep unconsciousness that lasts for a prolonged or indefinite period, caused especially by severe injury or illness. This is how I can most accurately describe my life before it collided with Christ - I was in a state of deep unconsciousness. I had the appearance of being alive, but I was dead. I was searching for something that wasn’t there. I was hollow and trying to fill the void deep within my soul with things that dissipate. For a fleeting moment they offer a sense of fullness, but they leave you feeling emptier than you were to begin with.
Growing up I did not attend church. When my mom and dad married he made it clear that he did not want to do the “church thing”. This made my mom uneasy, but she did her best to honor her husband’s wishes. She taught me about Jesus. However it was not until I was 31 years old that I was saved.
I had a pretty normal life, I guess. However, once I entered junior high that all changed. That’s just an awkward time of life for kids. In sixth grade I started trying things out just to fit in. One thing led to another and I got hung up with the wrong crowd. At the tender age of 11 or 12 years old, my self-worth was rooted in the world and in what others thought of me. So with this distorted view leading me, I became promiscuous, started drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and was suspended or put in in-school suspension numerous times during middle school. Things just spiraled even more out of control for me from there – drugs, sex, violence, theft, suicidal thoughts.
My freshman year in high school I had made the varsity track team. I probably could have received a college scholarship for it had I continued, but I let it slip through the cracks. As I also did with my education. The only goals I really had were to have fun and party. I was so self-centered, so near-sighted, not at all thinking about my future or taking life seriously. I would skip school, fall asleep in class or go to school stoned out of my mind at times. Somehow, though, I managed to graduate on time with my class.
Much of the same as I began college. I was so preoccupied with seeking pleasure and avoiding pain that I either dropped out of classes or failed them. Eventually, I just quit trying and settled for working in the restaurant business. After all, there was good money there. And it conveniently fit the lifestyle I was living.
This way of life continued for me even into my twenties and it got worse before got better, as the story usually goes. I carried out unthinkable things and found myself in the most despicable of places. By this point in my life, I was heavily involved in drugs of all sorts. Whatever I could get my hands on, really. Often I would mix them, which is really frightening!
They were my anesthetic for life. They allowed me to seemingly sidestep reality and avoid experiencing discomfort.
Escapism. It comes in many forms and disguises itself well if you’re not paying attention. Shopping, vacationing, food, drugs, alcohol, careers, education, physically fleeing, etc. There are endless ways in which we can attempt to escape.
But the truth is life is hard and the problems never go away. There is no escape. The obstacles are still there when you sober up, staring you in the face bigger than they were to begin with, demanding you to deal with them.
Jesus even tells us that in this world we will have trouble!
But the exciting news is that He overcame the world. In Him there is victory for whatever we face.
WHATEVER we face!
I had never learned how to correctly handle life, and I found myself dangling at the end of my rope when I was about 29 years old, riddled with crippling anxiety. I was married, had two kids and I was a complete disaster!
Thankfully God strategically placed some people in my life that were believers and He really used them. Matthew 5:16 says, In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Their light shined so brilliantly into my darkness! Just like John 1:5 says, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
In 2011, I surrendered my life to Christ when I started to really experience God’s word and how it truly is alive and active, sharper than a double-edged sword, dividing soul and spirt, joint and marrow; it discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
Through the Holy Spirit, God’s Word and the people He placed in my life, I came to understand the fact that I couldn’t do things any longer on my own and there wasn’t a single thing or person on this planet that could help me.
Except for Jesus. He is the way and the truth and the life and no one gets to the Father but through Him. (John 14:6)
“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
In midst of my confusion and sin-filled life, the God of the universe bent down and breathed life into my heart. He resuscitated me. He tenderly guided me to the path that leads to life… life eternal.
Verses 3-6 of Psalm 18 really resonate with me.
The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
Walking with Jesus has been the most crazy (in a good way!), amazing, difficult, beautiful experience ever. He has taught me – and is still teaching me - how to live, how to love, how to think, how to speak, how to process life, how to parent, how to be a wife. Seriously, I don’t think I loved my husband until much later in my marriage! I mean, I didn’t know what love was, much less how to love, until I learned how Jesus loves. He rewired me.. and He still is right now!
Mark Batterson says in his book, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day, “Almost like a hard drive with a computer virus, our minds have infected files that keep us from operating the way we were designed to. We literally upgrade our minds by downloading the mind of Christ”
Jesus prayed exactly that in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
He put a new song in my mouth. He removed my cold, dead heart of stone and gave me a new one!
Are you at the end of your rope hanging on for dear life like I was? Acknowledge your sins to the Lord; talk to Him and ask for forgiveness and guidance. You don’t need fancy words or some special prayer, just tell Him you need His help. He knows your heart, your thoughts, your needs and your feelings better than you do.
For the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:14
If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9