Sometimes it's not Ministry, it's just love
Updated: Apr 25, 2019
"I don't know why I'm messaging you. I just felt like maybe you'd understand...."
"I do understand. I've been where you are. I've felt what you're feeling. I've had the thoughts your wrestling with right now. And I had help. I had people to help me make the decision to fight against them, to choose life. You're not alone in this. Just keep talking with me and we'll find a way out for you, too."
I've lost count of the number of times I've had conversations like this by text, by social media, by email, by phone call, and even in person on rare occasions. Each story is different, just as each person is different. But the underlying struggle is the same: choosing to carry on in this broken, damaged world or choosing to surrender it all in hopes of sparing others. If you've never felt it, if you've never been at the lowest point and thought the only way to survive was to surrender.... then you don't really know. Count your blessings!
It wasn't so very long ago that I was facing these same demonic thoughts. And I call them demonic because I know their source. They are pure evil. The thoughts start slowly, quietly, to creep into your mind and then into your soul. The idea that this world would somehow be better off without you in it. The taunting image of your family smiling because you are gone, of your friends celebrating because you and all your problems are no longer a part of their lives. It is straight lies!! Nothing more than lies. And yet, it has a way of presenting itself to your mind as truth with it's slow, steady, sneaky, unrelenting pursuit of your heart. And once it takes hold, it refuses to let go!
You carry on, carrying them along with you. You live your life day in and day out. Nothing changes on the outside, other than your apparent preoccupation with something inside yourself. And your poor, innocent partners in life have no way of knowing what is really waging war for your soul. Even if they did, they are helpless to stop it.
But God sees. God knows. God hears the lies, just as you do. God sees the tearing apart of the very fabric of your identity, the truth of who you are. God sees. And He does everything He can to direct you out of it. But, being the gentleman that He is, He won't force you to make ANY decision. He just prompts, and whispers, and calls, and pleads, and does whatever He can to get your attention.
In some cases, that means including me. And what an honor that is for me!!
No matter what is happening in my own heart and mind, the moment I get a message like the one I shared above, I am instantly taken back to the place of surrender I found myself in, the place of darkest night and unending fear, the place just before God reached down and let me grab a hold of His hand, pulling me up out of the quick sand of lies found only in the lowest points of life.
I feel it. I see it. I know exactly how little it takes to send you into the spiral of despair. And I know just how little it takes to pull you back out again. Age has no reference in this fight. Sex has no merit. Life struggles mean very little. The only factor that makes any difference in the fight is faith. And it's faith that I lean into when those who are brave enough to reach out ask for my help.
"Show me what they're going through, Lord."
"Whisper what to say, Lord."
"I need to see, Lord. I need to understand. What is the root of this fear?"
"Do we need to call in more help? Or can this be handled between You, me, and them?"
"Tell me what You want them to hear, Lord."
Time slows down in these conversations, almost to a halt . It has no bearing on what must be faced. My surroundings fade into nothing. All that matters is the heart of the child of God before me, the voice of My King who can save them, and my own willingness to focus on these two struggling to find a way to connect. Little by little He speaks. And little by little they hear. Moment by moment I pray. And moment by moment the atmosphere shifts. The power is restored, little by little by little. Until at last, we all breathe a sigh of relief.
When it happens, it's all consuming. But the moment I feel the power shift, and I know that they have the strength to stand again, it immediately gets placed back into His hands and I carry on. Rarely do I hear from them again. Rarely do I know the outcome of the disasters that led to those breaking moments. But I don't need that. I don't need to know that victory was reclaimed. I know enough of my God to know how He works in these situations. I know the moment they can hear His voice is the moment the power is theirs. And the moment the power is theirs, is the moment the enemy must flee. So, I can carry on.
Because there is such a separation in my mind and heart, sometimes I fail to see just how amazing these moments of love and courage are. I fail to see just how far God has taken me. I fail to see just how He is choosing to use me. He once promised me that I would return to His throne room and "bring others with you..." I honestly believe these moments are exactly what He meant in that promise. Kids as young as 10 and adults as old as 81 have all reached these dark moments, have all been directed to reach out to me (of all people!!), and have all found their victories through the messages He has given me to share with them. And yet, somehow, I've failed to see it.
Ultimately, I think this failure is because I don't see it as anything special. I don't see how He's using me as anything unusual. It is simply how He's always been in my life. He has ALWAYS taken my struggles and used them to help others. That's how He's always been. It's hard to think of these moments as a ministry. They are simply love to me. They are simply Him carrying on His work.
But, as I sit here reminiscing about the 7 people just this month (an unusually high number) that have been reached with His love in the darkness, I see more of what He is doing, more of how He is working. And I am so incredibly honored.
Call it ministry if you want. I'm going to just call it love.