I screamed it at the top of my dry and desperate lungs.
“I don’t know how to get to You, and I don’t know how to get You to come to me.”
You’re probably thinking that I cried out these words before I became a Christ-follower, in some small church service, during a February revival when one of those guest evangelists visits your church for a week, and when you have nightly “revival meetings”.
Nope. Not even close.
It’s 2018, and I’ve been a Christ-follower for over 40 years.
I want to dance with You again, like we used to. But those days seem long-gone and nearly forgotten. I only remember what I think I remember about what we once had, and I question whether I’m remembering that with any hint of accuracy.”
And then I said the most honest thing I’ve said in these last four years – maybe in the last forty.
“God – You feel a million miles away, and I didn’t ask for any of this.”
Somewhere in the mixture of this out loud verbal tirade and the tears that were beginning to flow quite freely, I was feeling a freedom-release, even though the words were brutally honest and only partially truthful. The words were coming from some place deeper than my heart, wherever that place is, whatever that place is called. It felt like an invitation from the Divine – to scream those words out loud at Him, and I’m pretty sure it was because I was surrendering, even though words like that don’t sound much like surrender.
There was no guilt. No shame. No embarrassment. No fear. I had come to the end of me, and I was finally admitting it.
HAVE YOU EVER REALLY COME TO THE END OF YOURSELF, AND ADMITTED IT?
I had come to the end of the ridiculous Karmic version of Christianity I had bought into.
I had come to the end of striving for some next solution to my chronic physical pain.
I had come to the end of what anyone might think of me, and any fear associated with that self-revelation.
I had come to the end of chapter-and-verse quoting as a way of getting God to bend His ear or act or speak or move, and I saw with clarity the slow turning I’d made from embracing a God-written Manuscript of interactions between heaven and earth, into a book that I’d turned into a list of principles for successful living.
Nothing was working to rid me of my chronic pain, and I’d finally come to the end of pretending that something labeled “working” might work at all.
I sat in the corner chair of my master bedroom, and sobbed like a baby. After an hour or so, with my eyes still wet and my lungs depleted of oxygen, the phone rang. My buddy’s image appeared on my smart phone, so I picked it up, unsure of what I would say, and equally unsure about how he might respond to the desperation of my words.
After our 30 minute conversation had ended, I looked up, and I saw glory. Not like I’d been to heaven or seen God or anything. But my release was palpable, and my perspective was being changed. The glory of God is a heaviness (the Hebrew word actually means “weight”), and I felt it as fully as I’ve ever felt it in my life, and ironically the weight of the glory of God made me lighter.
My eyes stayed wet for the rest of the day. Angela and I had dinner at our favorite trashy Mexican food place that night, and I ate a taco that isn’t on the menu unless you know the cook. As we did so, my eyes were red the entire time. My voice kept cracking as I told her the story I’m now telling you – as I recounted the phone conversation with my friend.
These are the things that happen to a person when they come to the end of themselves. These are the gorgeous vista scenes that can only be born in a land that is dry and desolate – a desert where rivers once flowed, and where the dry rocks at the bottom of that once-flowing riverbed yearn for those streams to flow over them once again.
This is the moment God has been leading me to all along, no matter what my future brings.
I am in process with no conclusion to offer. I’m in the center of my journey. So if you’re looking for some writer or thought-leader or preacher who wraps everything up in a colorful Christian bow and offers steps and principles to get God to do what you secretly wish for, then that guy is most definitely not me.
Self help? Ha. That’s funny right there. There’s no self-help here, because when we get to the end of ourselves, there’s no self at all.
This is a journey of equals together – you and me. And maybe somewhere along our shared journey, perhaps we’ll see and hear and taste glimpses of what God has stored up for us already in heaven. And maybe those glimpses will be quite enough to make the rivers flow again.