“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14: 1-2
All of life is a coming home. Salesmen, secretaries, coal miners, bee keepers, sword swallowers – all of us, all the restless hearts of the world, all trying to find a way home.
It’s hard to describe what I felt back then. Picture yourself walking for days in a driving snow. You don’t even know you’re walking in circles. The heaviness of your legs in the drifts… Your shouts disappearing into the wind… How small you can feel. How far away home can be.
Home. The dictionary defines it as both a place of origin and a goal or destination. And the storm? The storm was all in my mind… Or as the poet Dante put it “In the middle of the journey of my life I found myself in a dark wood, for I had lost the right path. Eventually I would find the right path, but in the most unlikely place.”
Patch Adams is a real person. It is also the title of a movie based on his life. The part of Patch Adams was played by the late, great actor Robin Williams. As the movie begins, he is narrating the words above while we see him as a thoroughly broken man, riding a bus to an unknown destination.
The unlikely place where Patch Adams again found the right path was the psych ward of a hospital where he admitted himself to deal with depression and suicidal thoughts. I remember my own ride to such a place in my own attempt to deal with the same issue. I arrived at my destination by taxi. I don’t know why it matters to me to tell you that detail but it does.
Patch Adams did not remain broken. Neither did I. And neither will you, Jahar. Neither will you…It matters to me to tell you that too.
Last week, the Lord gave me new insight about a Bible verse I have read many times.
Matthew 8: 18, 23 – 27
When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the wind and waves obey him.”
After leading me to read this passage, the Lord spoke to me, telling me that even when a great storm was swirling around Jesus, he took care of himself, sleeping when he needed to. I thought that was interesting, but wondered why God would point that out to me.
This week, I understand why He showed me that.
I’ve written before about the book “Gold by Moonlight” by Amy Carmichael. Here is another passage from it:
Before we reach the place where such waters must be crossed, there is almost always a private word spoken by the beloved to the lover. That is the word which will be most assaulted as we stand within sight and sound of that seething, roaring flood. The enemy will fasten upon it, twist it about, belittle it, obscure it, try to undermine our confidence in its integrity and to wreck our tranquility by making us afraid, but this will put him to flight: “I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me.”
I am about to cross some unexpectedly rough water Jahar, but like Jesus and the disciples, the storm will not drown me; I will make it to the other side of the shore.
Yesterday, my doctor told me I have cancer.
The very moment I found this out, the Lord said this: Psalm 112: 7 He will have no fear of bad news, for his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.
And so it is Jahar. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16: 8
A short time after He told me not to fear this news, He sent His Word, giving me further comfort:
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany… So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
When Jesus heard this, he said “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Lazarus died before Jesus could reach him. When he arrived three days later, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
As an elder in my church was praying over me for healing, God spoke to me again. He reminded me that before David was able to kill the giant Goliath with nothing more than his slingshot, he first had to prepare for this monumental battle by fighting lesser opponents. David first fought lions and bears and prevailed.
Now anyone with a brain knows that fighting lions and bears with your bare hands and living to tell about it is no small accomplishment and David did that.
Here is what the Lord told me as the church elder prayed for me:
This cancer is not a giant. It is not even a lion. It is nothing more than a bear. And you will defeat it and you will go on to fight much bigger battles than this in your future. This sickness wil not end in death. I have permitted it to come upon you for My name to be glorified.
You and I are facing what could be the ultimate battle for some. But for us, Jahar, there will be no death, no defeat. Our God will cause us to prevail, in His mighty name.
Do you know Him yet?
Someday Jahar, you will walk out of another courtroom as a free young man. And when you do, I will be watching, alive and healthy, hoping for the chance to meet you and welcome you home.
I will write again soon and in the meantime, as the storm swirls around me, I will be learning to take good care of myself, like Jesus did by sleeping in the boat.
Boats: I can see you and Jesus having much to discuss on that subject someday…