- 13:1 How long, Yahweh?
- Will you forget me forever?
- How long will you hide your face from me?
- 13:2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul,
- having sorrow in my heart every day?
- How long shall my enemy triumph over me?
- 13:3 Behold, and answer me, Yahweh, my God.
- Give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death;
- 13:4 Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”;
- Lest my adversaries rejoice when I fall.
- 13:5 But I trust in your loving kindness.
- My heart rejoices in your salvation.
- 13:6 I will sing to Yahweh,
- because he has been good to me ~ Psalm 13
Hope is the second most powerful word in my vocabulary, next to love. It is the very first word you see when you visit this little sandbox I have been playing in every day for over a year now. It is also my wife's theme on her vision board, a collection of pictures that depict the type of life she dreams of living.
There was a time in my life when I did not know the meaning of these two words. Very few in this world know just how far away from God I truly was. I hid this from my classmates, my friends, even my own family. Every day, I questioned my own existence. Hope for me was some kind of fairy tale that belonged in other families, not ours, not the black sheep squadron. The danger of living so deep in the valley of despair is that one can feel there is just no way to ever escape.
I would like to share my deepest, darkest secret with you today so that you can get a glimpse of just how special Jesus is, even if you may feel separated from Him right now. It has taken four hundred and fifty days of blog writing, a few angels on earth and lots of prayer to get the courage to publish today's post. I will share more with you when the book is released next March. You see, my friends, hope is a powerful word. It is connected to the One who became man, who sacrificed His own life, so that you can be forever free of the valley of death...
The Great Sadness
I sat with my dad for the last time at Mulligan's. He announced to me, his first-born, that the doors would be shut for good. He explained that efforts to sell the bar were fruitless. Not only was he declaring bankruptcy, he was going to be leaving the family, forever. "I gave it my best, son," he said. "Everything I did was for my family. I came to work at 6:00 am every day and stayed late to promote but it wasn't enough. This place was a biker bar when I bought it and I am proud of the way I turned it around, however, it wasn't enough to take care of your mother and you six kids. I owe some back taxes. The new landlord tripled my rent in order to get me out so he can make more money turning this place into six apartments. I fought him in court and lost. There is no money and your mother and I don't love each other any more. I know you are making plans to go to college and I believe you are cut out for it, however, you are going to have to figure out how to do it on your own. I am not coming home."
As the great sadness entered the tavern, I looked around for the last time. Bankruptcy did not matter to me. We had spent most of our lives without money and I didn't care. The divorce thing did matter. I did not want my dad to leave the family. We had been struggling for three years and my dad was so involved in the business that my parents grew apart from each other. This mattered. Perhaps dad could get a regular job and the family could be restored, I thought.
"Son, I want you to keep this Shillaleigh. I want you to remember Mulligans." As my dad took his prized possession down from the wall, he looked so defeated and lost. 'It's okay, dad, I love you.' At that moment, the Great Wall of China suddenly formed around my father. It was a wall that none of us children would be able to get through no matter what we did to try and reach his heart. He refused to look me in the eye or speak. The great sadness had enveloped both of us. Silence. Coldness. Emptiness. My own spirit was leaving my body as I watched my dad with his head down. "Time for you to go, son." There was no hug, no handshake, nothing. Just six final words..."time for you to go, son."
Before I could open the door, the tears came. I did not feel loved, only despair. As I opened the door to my little yellow VW superbeetle, I thought, Why, God? Why? Have you not heard my daily cries to you, to save my mom and dad? And my brothers and sisters...what about them? Why have you turned your back on my family? I can't handle this anymore. There is no love in my family. All of us are in Hell now. All I get from you is silence. My life stinks. Just answer one prayer...take me, I beg you, take me out of this world right now. Once again...silence. Nothing.
I could barely see through my tears to find the ignition. It was early morning. As I pulled out of the parking lot for the last time, I asked God again, 'Please God, just answer one prayer. Please, take me out of this Hell. There can be no place worse than where I am now.' As I drove on the curvy road, I prayed for one of the cars to cross over the line and take me. No, that would not be good for the other driver. Just me, God, don't hurt anyone else, I thought. I was crying like a baby.
At that moment, the Evil One suggested an idea. The telephone poll, go for the telephone pole. I sped up. Rage was overtaking me. Then fear. I looked hard at the telephone pole. Then, another thought hit me. What if I didn't die? What if I was only injured? What about Hell? The Evil One was clever. He told me that there could be no worse Hell than the one I was living in now. I kept passing the telephone polls. Unable to end my life, I thought, what a whimp.
As I parked the car and turned off the engine. I prayed one last time. Looks like you're not going to take me and I am too weak or scared to end my own life. If I am going to stay in this crappy world, can you do just one thing for me? Can you at least give me a tiny bit of wisdom so that I can survive on my own? I am lost and I know you have a lot on your plate. Just help me figure out a way to get out of this Hell I am trapped in. I will survive on my own. I will come up with my own plan. Just give me enough wisdom to get out of this mess.
I got out of my VW and wiped away my tears. It was time to put on my "happy face." I was good at happy faces, even though demons had found a new home, deep inside my cold and lifeless heart. On this day, I became a cave dweller. I never stopped praying for wisdom. It would be many, many years before I would learn the real meaning of a word absent from my teenage years. That word my friends is HOPE. I caught my first glimpse of this word when I met Helen Marie, my angel on earth, the one full of WISDOM, the one who would stand tall with me in her 5'3" petite body and stare down my demons with her icey-blue eyes while holding my hand on the battlefield. The demons feared her because they knew she was Heaven-sent. She would be the one who would never abandon me no matter how difficult the Evil One made our lives together. She would be the one to help me restore my broken relationship with God. Yes, my friends, HOPE is the second most powerful word in my vocabulary (there is nothing more powerful than LOVE and we will be talking about that in great detail in "God's Black Sheep Squadron"), it is rooted in Jesus Christ, the One who was in the VW with me the day I thought I was abandoned. I was hurting too much to recognize Him in the seat next to me. He was there on that difficult day and He has been with me every day since the day I was born.
The reason He refused to take me is because of YOU. I am not allowed to leave this world until you come to know Him. I will endure any pain or suffering that the Evil One may attack me with for YOU. I am sharing this story for your benefit. Do not let the Evil One trick you into thinking your life is meaningless or insignificant. May you be filled with new HOPE and may you come to know God's LOVE for you. Yes, you have been created in His image and He loves you. GOD BLESS YOU!