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“Prophesy! Who Hit You?” March 17, 2016

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Luke 22 is the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, and also revealed the disciples’ spiritual blindness.  While they argued over who was the greatest disciple, Jesus was being set up. Jesus knew.  But the disciples never saw it coming.

My spiritual blindness has never been questioned: Exactly like the song goes, “I am blind, and I don’t like what I think I see.”

My career path evinces my blindness.  I can’t get on a career path because I don’t know the direction to go to get somewhere productively happy.  Which also means, the people around me are blind too.  They don’t know how to help me.  And I don’t know what to ask for.  I have a job, and I don’t know what direction to go.  People tell me to “just” get another job, which sounds so easy, and makes me depressed because for me it’s not.  I’ve tried to find a job while I have a job, but the people I’ve talked to and interviewed viewed me as at best, second best for their opportunities.  At the same time as I really need “a job,” I really want a job I like.  What I want to do is write.  And use my spiritual gifts, and my education and training.  And be used by God to do good things.  And bear fruit for eternity.  And, like everyone else stuck in this present reality, take care of myself and my family.  And I’m a dismal failure at getting on that path.

Yesterday two things happened.  First, something happened to me maybe a year and a half ago, and it required money I didn’t have to fix.  I don’t want to get into the graphic and gory details, so I won’t describe the event.  At the time, it was something that could be fixed, I was told, pretty easily, but it would require an expensive process and I couldn’t afford it.  But I prayed, I trusted, and I waited in hope.  At the risk of exposing a root of bitterness, this has become, over time, a real sticking point with me spiritually, because I trusted in God, and waited for the money.    And I prayed.  I’m still waiting.  I was still praying.  Yesterday that situation, which I have been waiting in hope that God would provide what I needed to resolve, just got worse.

From the prophet:
Psalm 22: 8 “He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.”

And from the crucifixion story:
Matthew 27: 43 “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”

Why would I expect God to help me if He didn’t even help Jesus? Well, because in the plan of things I think Jesus could have had the help if He had asked for it and could have backed out of the divine transaction, but he submitted because of the huge implications for eternity.  But for me, it’s just something I need.  It’s not a life saving miracle, it’s just a process I need to be done that now requires even more money to be done right.  I’ve already burdened my church and they’ve helped with other things.  I wanted God to answer in a more sustaining way than I’ve seen in the last few years, and there’s the sticking point.  That was what “I wanted.” In the grand scheme of things, it’s not about what I want.  But I also read that God hears and answers prayers, so I was just hoping.

Also, yesterday, adding to my already depressed state, it appears I was passed over again for something else I was hoping might happen that could possibly help me, in a life and spirit sustaining kind of way.

I’ve researched and found a poem/song I wrote for Easter back in 2013.  I wrote it trying to be hopeful, in a season when hope is hard to believe, much less find.  But it came to mind yesterday while I was processing my perceived emotional slap in the face.  It expressed my heart then and now, so I’m re-posting it here:


Maranatha, 10/27/2013, Michael N. Johns

It’s been one day that He’s been dead.
I saw Him on the cross.
The spear went in, His heart then bled,
And all my hope was lost.

He said He would be with me,
Until this age would end.
Promised we’d do greater things.
And broken hearts would mend,
But He’s gone.

It’s been two days that He’s been dead.
We laid him in the grave.
We wrapped His body, and His head.
Who can a dead man save?

He said He would be with me,
Until this age would end.
Promised we’d do greater things.
And broken hearts would mend,
But He’s gone.

It’s been three days that He’s been dead.
It’s almost like a dream.
What were the words that Jesus said?
I’ll be back soon; you’ll see.

We went to say our last goodbyes,
With perfume for the body,
I almost could not believe my eyes,
As angels greeted me

We thought we’d see his body
A cold, dead sadness,
Instead they said, Go in and see,
Fill up your hearts with gladness,
And find hope.

Two thousand years since He’s been gone,
It’s almost like a dream.
What did He say as He went on?
I’ll be back soon; you’ll see.

He sent us out to teach the world
His love, His hope, His story
I believe He will return
He’ll be back soon; you’ll see

He said He would be with me,
Until this age would end.
Promised we’d do greater things.
And broken hearts would mend,

He promised me.
I will see.
I believe.


 

So that’s it.  I won’t get into the details of me being passed over again, but it happened yesterday adding fuel to my raging emotional fires.  I partially processed the events last night.

In my spiritual blindness, not that I’m worthy to be compared to the central character of Luke 22, I felt that I was being slapped.  Except, unlike Jesus, I can’t answer the question of Luke 22:

63 And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and hit him.64 And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy!  Who hit you?

I used to have a much sharper spiritual view.  I knew.  But when you pray, and you pray, and you pray some more, and the only answers are further breakage of things that could have been repaired, that now just need to be discarded and I can’t afford replacement, and being ignored and passed over, again and again, by people I trusted and thought had my best interests at heart, the view becomes much more clouded.  In the past, I’ve been pretty naive.  I really try to be trusting and think people will do what they say they will.  I’ve learned, over time, to get certain things in writing.  But I’m not in a current situation where that makes any difference.  I’m currently where I am, looking for the exit ramp that leads somewhere better.

It’s not that my situation hasn’t improved.  It has.  I’m better off than I was a year ago.  It’s just been very slow.  I still can’t fix what’s broken, I still haven’t stumbled across the answer God surely must have already arranged and provided, and I still can’t take care of my situation for now, so it has to get worse before it’ll get better.  I thought I needed an answer, but I’ve heard a deafening silence, or worse, spiritual platitudes about whatever overly simplistic “just do this” answer, or “encouraging” Bible verses my would-be encouragers have discouraged me by providing.  Or worse, the circumstance has gotten worse because I couldn’t fix it sooner, and I still can’t fix it.  Like yesterday.

So just ignore me, you should have stopped reading already. Maybe it’s temporary.  Maybe it’ll be fixed tomorrow.  But honestly, right now, I feel as ignored by God as this guy is by the girl he loves:

I’m just in a spiritual and emotional dark place.  Again.  I feel very irrelevant.  I feel like nothing I do really matters. I feel that what I do could be replaced and done by someone else, or maybe if it wasn’t done, it wouldn’t make any difference. I feel irrelevant to God, and everyone will want to tell me I matter to God, or to fix it for myself as if I had the wherewithal or the stamina.  (I’m sure I do matter to God, only just not enough to answer my prayers yet, and not the way I thought I needed them to be answered.)  Irrelevance is dark.  I’m spiritually blindfolded.

Who hit me?  Prophesy!  Because my spiritual eyes are darkness, and my smoldering wick feels very much like it’s being snuffed out.

I wrote this not anticipating any answers, because although I wrote it about me, it’s not about me.  It’s about God’s answer to my faith.  It’s just another dark season after another dark season.  Will He answer in some miraculous way, or will He answer with more waiting, more silence, more unanswered crisis points because He knows I should be able to handle whatever evil the day has in store for me?  He’s not obligated, and neither is anyone else.  It’s nothing any different or more special than any other thing anyone else would pray about.  Life struggles are common to everyone, and we just have to endure and walk through I suppose.  But it is growing very dark for me again this year and yesterday’s events just added insults to injuries.

Will He answer in some sustaining, fulfilling way, or will it be the same minimalist response like my ongoing doldrums?  I don’t know.  I know that the minimalist responses are probably, minimally, enough.  I was just hoping for abundance, but I can’t even fix or replace what’s broken because I still can’t afford it.  Something else, that seems about 2 or 3 months ahead of a sustainable schedule, breaks and spends the reserves before they’re built up enough to take care of what I need.  Last thing was the cars.  I don’t want a next thing.

Say it:  I’m naive.  I still believe.  I still hope.  And I’m still waiting and praying.  Don’t you dare write a check. I’m not asking you.  I’m asking God.  And the answer I need is something sustaining, not a one-time thing from some poor charitable schmuck who’s a sucker for a sob story.  I need the thing, the Divine answer, that sustains and provides to fix or replace needed things, for the normal wearing out life does on everything and everybody.  And leaves behind enough for me to help the next person looking for a charitable schmuck.  And I also need the fulfilling thing to do to keep that sustenance going, that goes along with my talents, education, training, and experience.  I just haven’t found it.  “I wish I was special,” but I’m not.  If I wanted a one-time answer, I’d set up on gofundme.  And FYI: “God helps those who help themselves” isn’t in the Bible.  Unless you’re a politician.  I think at least one of the candidates probably believes that.

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January 4, 2016

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I sat in church for the first Sunday of the year, yesterday, and feel this so bad it hurts.

THIS!  This is what I want for the new year.  Dear God, please,
“Wake me up inside.”

“…Call my name and save me from the dark
Bid my blood to run
Before I come undone
Save me from the nothing I’ve become

Bring me to life

Frozen inside without Your touch
Without Your love, Darling
Only You are the Life among the dead.”

One of our pastors spoke in his own simple eloquence, about us determining whatever it is God wants us to do and who He wants us to be.  I know the answers to those questions, what I lack is the inner life to do it, to be it, to live it.

I feel dead inside.

I feel frozen inside (no Disney jokes, or songs, PLEASE).  I’ve become less than worthless, I am nothing, I am negative.  I look backward and see chaos, madness, sadness, destruction, sin, loss, debt.  I look forward and see the labor required to dig out, and it’s hopeless.

I admit it.  I did it to myself.  Partly.  I starved myself spiritually, only having the meagerest of snacks maybe every other day, but I knew I was missing out on the banquet.  I did it to myself because I feel kind of abandoned by God.

Say it all you want, if you’re one of those conservatives you’ll believe that if I feel the abandonment, it’s because I abandoned Him.  That may be true.  That the spiritual “snack” was there at all says maybe God was there sustaining me through the spiritual “drought.”  Or maybe like Cain from Genesis, I offered what I thought was the best I had to give, from a heart that was as good as mine could be, and still felt rejected.

I’m going to try something different today.  And maybe, this year will be different.  I’ll let you know, if I live to tell about it.  If He is “the Life,” maybe He’ll share.

On the positive side, I feel “only mostly dead,” which, if you’ve ever seen The Princess Bride, means there’s hope, but “it’ll take a miracle.”

“That’s All I Need.” February 23, 2015

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This morning I heard a “testimony” of a guy who was at his wits end because he was an alcoholic and how his mentor encouraged him, told him to take things one day at  a time, and to decide not to drink today.  He said when he woke up the next day, after choosing not to drink, the urge had left, at least for the day.  And that was enough.  I don’t know what he did the day after that.  Maybe it’s enough to deal with addiction one day at a time.  Maybe it’s enough to deal with life one day at a time.  But the future looms, dark and desperate, like a loud, windy thunderstorm on a black night.  I’m afraid, and it’s starting to downpour already.  I can’t avoid it.

I have moments of psychic pain that is difficult to put into words.  I’m sure I’m not alone.  The helplessness.  The hopelessness.  The purposelessness.  The disappointment.  The frustration.  The doubt.  The guilt.  The stress, with the related physical symptoms that I can’t shake on a weekday but that don’t seem to bother me on a weekend.  I don’t really understand other people’s depression, but I know mine very well.  Yesterday I taught a Sunday School class the first half of John 3.  You should read it.  You should read it slowly.  And today I woke up, got out of bed, got dressed, and drove to work.  A routine Monday.  I understand eternal salvation from a Judeo-Christian perspective.  In fact, I have no doubts about my spiritual estate.  When I die, I stand to inherit, if I’m right about how I understand John 3.  But while I’m living it’s an entirely different situation.

Those kids all had John 3:16 memorized.  They rattled it off so fast I don’t really think they understood any meaning behind the verses.  They, and I, need to take the time to slow down, read it for content and comprehension and not just for the pride of knowing all the words.  I noticed it in them yesterday, and saw in them a mirror, showing myself, the one who pridefully wishes to have it all memorized and know all the answers, all the words of the verse, without necessarily understanding the meaning behind it.  I think I need time to slow down until I fully understand.

Our pastor told the church yesterday that it’s not about us, and I would like to agree with him.  But how can I “Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus” (It’s an old hymn, we don’t sing those at the church much and didn’t sing any yesterday.), when I can barely drag myself to work through the haze of my feelings about life?  All those people who don’t know much about depression tell me I need medication, counseling, etc.  They tell me I need to think positive, focus on the good things.  There are plenty of those.  The problem is that with respect to my emotions, it is about me.  Do I really just choose to be happy?  Do I medicate it away?  Would a counselor really help, or would that just be another person I drag down by being honest about my feelings?

I have a friend who has all but turned his back on “my religion” at least his denomination of it.  He says guilt is useless to me, it cripples me and leaves me doubting and is the cause of all these depressive feelings.  There’s wisdom there, along with a great deal of experience.  But I still question whether I’m asking the right questions and seeking the right answers.

Maybe one of them is right.  Maybe I should surrender my dream of control.  Maybe I should surrender my guilt feelings over stuff I routinely do, just because an escape doesn’t present itself when I need it.  Maybe both of them are right somehow.  But I have another question neither of them is answering:

What if depression is like pain?

I mean, what if depression, like pain, can be a healthy thing?  If you can’t feel pain, like people with Hansen’s disease, you can get into serious trouble.  But feeling the pain is good because I’m aware to move my hand quickly away from the fire, or the stove, the hot light bulb, or move my foot off of the broken glass or the toy on the staircase.  If I medicate my depression away and I’m off in la la land somewhere, not aware of the stimulus that’s causing the feeling, how can that be good?  Maybe something needs to change on the outside, so my depression can go away.  Maybe I need to move in some direction or another, away from whatever is causing the pain.  Is the motion physical?  Is the motion mental?  Is the motion environmental?

I have everything I need except control.  And crowns for two teeth.  And the ability to do my own plumbing.  And the ability to fix my own car.  And manage my time.  And the time to slow down and understand and to do what I really want.  Anyone else hear Steve Martin from “The Jerk?”

Well I’m gonna go then. And I don’t need any of this. I don’t need this stuff, and I don’t need you. I don’t need
anything except this.

[picks up an ashtray]
And that’s it and that’s the only thing I need, is this. I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that’s all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that’s all I need. And that’s all I need too. I don’t need one other thing, not one – I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure. And this. And that’s all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair.
[walking outside]
And I don’t need one other thing, except my dog.
[dog growls]
I don’t need my dog.

Steve Martin’s character was looking for a shred of control, something he could hold on to that was solid.  And there really was nothing to hold on to that would fix whatever was wrong.  When it all turned upside down on him, like a country song, even his dog turned on him.  Sometimes life comes after me with a vengeance.  And I know well that everyone else experiences the same kind of life.  What’s different is their response.  I don’t know any other response than to enjoy the good times and endure the bad times.  But I think that realistically, there’s nothing I can hold on to, materialistically speaking, that will fix my issues.

When I was a teenager, I contemplated suicide, and chose not to do that on that day.  I can’t say that the contemplation has left me.  But the urge, now there’s a different story.  I don’t cut myself.  I haven’t ever attempted suicide.  I try not to be destructive, and I encourage people to be creative above all else.  Creating is the oppposite, and it’s better in every way.  Being destructive doesn’t resolve anything the right way.  Suicide doesn’t resolve anything the right way either. It’s not logical to me, and to me it would feel like a cowardly escape route.  Not to mention, it leaves a mess behind, including cleanup and the physical disposal of a body, and the hurt feelings, leaving deep emotional scars on those left behind.  And what if you try it and fail, and leave yourself worse off than you were before the attempt?  I’m not going to try it.  And I’m not going to recommend anyone else try, or do, it either.

I think rational thinking, the desire to not make it worse for other people, and the endurance of some people around me have probably saved my life.  I don’t even think about my own exit, until I’m old or some unforeseen accident befalls.  I have my dad’s example.  Every day he woke up, got out of bed, and did his job, the same job or jobs he held for something like 30 years, until he retired.  And I think he’s settled into a new routine in his retirement.  It’s just a quirky routine to me, but he can do what he wants because it’s his time.  He has enough money, I guess, although major expenses still make him a bit cranky.  They go out to eat together, and with friends sometimes.  He likes to go shopping.  He spends it, and he talks to people.  I’ve gone with him and watched him do that.  He doesn’t need very much of anything, but he gives a lot of things to his kids still.  My sister lives two doors down from him and we live 30 minutes across town.

He has more control, I think, since he has both money and time.  But if I inherited a tendency for depression from him, I wonder how he feels.  Sadly, I know he recently lost a pet cat, and more recently a pet dog, to old age.  It’s got to get to him.  I think it would affect me.  He must be sad; he had that dog for years.  We had a dog when I was a kid, but it was always referred to as “mom’s” dog.  And her dog lived a normal dog lifespan and died before he retired.  They moved away from Indiana for a while, but then moved back to be closer to more of the family.  And when they came back, “Babe” was a part of their family.  Cats, the dog, and all their stuff, transported from Arkansas and deposited here in Indiana, and they settled in to a new routine.  I know he still misses the dog.  They went on walks together in the morning and in the evening, and she watched him mowing the grass and taking care of the yard.  And now she’s gone.

I think it would be great to have a pet dog.  Unconditional love and warm feet when watching TV, in exchange for food and shelter, and a bit of exercise would be good for both of us.  Maybe my dad wishes he had a dog but is afraid to make the emotional commitment again.  I wonder if I would feel that way if I were in his shoes, or if I would get another dog.  I don’t think he plans to get another dog ever again.  But I think it might be emotionally healthy for him, and if he took it for walks, would be physically healthy for both of them.

Despite the emotional and financial commitments, I still think I might like a pet dog.  It seemed to help my dad feel less depressed, and now he doesn’t have that buffer, that way to turn away from his inner pain, if I’m right about what causes our depression. We’re both fairly emotionally stable on the outside.  But on the inside sometimes I’m adrift in that emotional hurricane.  It comes and goes.  Some days I barely notice a breeze.

I think, just maybe, that’s all I need:  Crowns for my teeth.  The ability to fix my own plumbing and my car.  Enough free time to slow down until I understand, and the time to do what I want, after manageable busy time to do what has to be done.  And control.  And a pet dog.

Telephone Tag December 15, 2014

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It’s Christmas.  I’m enjoying everyone else’s excitement and fun.  But I’m a bit lost in it all.  Sure, we’re setting up our kids, and I hope to write a Christmas poem/song and a nice note for my wife.  We quit doing the stupid Christmas letter years ago.  Those letters we receive, and those letters we’ve sent in the past, were all about feeling positive about the present and the future.  Why bother?  So I quit doing it.  And my wife, not being the writer, didn’t take it up.  If you’re fond of writing, or reading, the Christmas letter, and getting the photo of the family, I love to read yours and see your pictures, and I’m not as critical of your writing as I am when I write my own.  We didn’t take one of those happy smiling photos either, so I’m sorry.  My wife and kids are more beautiful/handsome than ever, thank you for asking.

My wife tries to encourage me.  “We’ll be ok.  Smile.” Or something like that.

“OK” (Faking smile for 3 seconds)  “I’m ‘depressed-happy.'”

My pastor keeps hitting me with these “Messages from God,” and it’s only his second or third Sunday as Senior Pastor.  Last week he asked what we’d answer if God asked us to do something.  I’d assert that my answer is yes.  His example was Zechariah, who was asked to name his kid John and raise him to a high standard of behavior, and Elizabeth, who was asked to have a kid when she was kind of elderly for child-bearing.  This week he asked if we were available.  Yes again.  His example was Mary, who had done the right things in her youth, and was available to God for His purposes.  Well, who in the modern era has done the right things?  Not I.  But available?  Sure.  Let me know what you want me to do, and then give me the energy, inspiration and time to get it done.  I’ve got a little time if I sneak it in, or delay some pressing project that’s less than urgent.

Why am I “depressed-happy?”  Well, I like that people are gearing up for Christmas.  It’s cool.  The God I want to serve gets to be a focal point for people.  I’m getting ready for the Christmas Eve presentation at Church, and in the Sunday School class I teach, good kids every one, we talked about the Christmas story, Christmas carols, and poetry.  I encouraged them to read through what we know about Christmas from the source Texts, (Matthew, Mark, Luke) so they can separate fact from myth or poetic license.  That’s a good thing.  And we’re not in dire dire straits.  And my wife and kids are beautiful and relatively happy.  And my wife is very good, like fantastic, about wanting to take care of me and the kids.  So that’s the happy part.

What’s the “depressed” part?  The message I strongly feel is being directed to me is only getting halfway across.  I mean, Mary and Joseph and Zecharias got angels, for heaven’s sake.  Color me jealous.  They delivered a complete message of instruction.  Where’s mine?  Sure, it’d scare the crap out of me.  But at the same time, it’d be clear.  It’s like that telephone game you played as a kid.  Someone would whisper a message to their neighbor.  They’d whisper to their neighbor, and so on until the message got to you, and it was distorted, garbled, or mischievously changed.  I get the first half.  Be available.  Fine, sign me up.

I’m signed up because I still believe God is the only God there is, because God is the only One Who can adequately step in here, and because in my past… well, there’s a novel or two for you. One is a story of survival, the other is a love story, miracles and all, that I still treasure and cling to, although, the only angel in that story is my wife.  It’s just been a while since I’ve had a really good, hopeful chapter.

So I’m signed up.  Now I just need the means, energy, inspiration and time.  I don’t feel that i have any of that.  And for what?  For what I’m already going through?  Where do I sign up to escape from the stupidity of it?  Stuff falls apart, and this trend is not met with the resources to fix things I feel need to be  fixed.  So it waits on the repair pile until it becomes a crisis and then it gets a patch.  And whenever I start to see what might be a flicker at the end of the tunnel, something comes along and snatches that away just as fast as I thought I saw it.  Or maybe I didn’t really see it.

The Sunday school kids and I focused on the shepherds this week.  Color me more jealous.  The shepherds got a whole anthem of angels.  OK I made that plural designation up, they’re sometimes called a “flight” or a “host” of angels.  But being as they busted out singing, an anthem seems fitting.  I just want one.  Not a misfit “Clarence,” like in “It’s A Wonderful Life.”  But if Clarence appeared in the room, I’d even listen to him.

I watched a movie the other day, I won’t tell the title because I don’t think anyone else should endure it on purpose.  It was a typical starter story line for a movie, mystery builds, bad stuff happens, and you wait for the ending to be happy:  The victims are rescued, the bad guys are exterminated or arrested and carried off to justice, the hero says something witty and smiles and everything is ok.   Not this movie.  The victims are all just killed, including the lady you think will live, and the credits roll.  Real life, I guess.  But I thought it sucked!  I brought it up because I don’t want my real life to be like that.  It sucks, and you die.  The end.  Roll credits.  Please.  No.

If God/Jesus is the hero of the Bible (and He is), then I want Him to be my hero too.  And I can identify with the shepherds before the angelic chorus broke out.

Dear God,

It’s me.  I’m still here.  I feel like a shepherd, watching my sheep.  I’m getting old here on this cold hill.  My bones ache, my muscles are tired, my skin itches, my eyes are out of focus (old glasses), my teeth are failing, and the sheep are boring, doing what sheep do.  They’re born, we shear them, we feed and care for them, they live, they die.  Not exciting.  And I want to sleep, but if I slow down things will fall apart even faster, and they’re already faster than I can handle.  The sole came off of the heel of my shoe the other day, and I think there are holes in my covering.  (At least some of these are metaphors.) I feel breezy and cold, and my foot is damp.

I’m trying to do the right thing, but then my humanity creeps in and sometimes I do what humans do, which is to screw up.  Sorry for not being pure and blameless all the time.  Not sure how Zecharias and Mary managed that.  I’m trying to help out, but I really don’t feel empowered to do more or give more.  I’ve got a dream, but, the pay is crap and I’m stuck here on this hill without the means or time or energy or inspiration to pursue it.  And I’m trying to pursue the dream without the means, in whatever spare time I might have, and I progress little by little, but most days I’m not feeling like I’m making any progress at all.

I don’t even have the right that Mary or Zecharias and Elizabeth might have claimed, to be chosen.  I’m not pure and blameless.  I’ve got age spots on my sins.  But I still want Jesus to be my Hero.  If He’s not coming in person, I still want Him to send help.  The shepherds had a cool story to tell, after that night.  Mary, and Zecharias, and Elizabeth, and the rest, lived out a pretty cool story too.  I understand the stigma Mary had to endure.  But her kid was Jesus, for heaven’s sake.  How comforting would it be to be “overshadowed by the power of God” (v35) Himself?

Right now the villain has me in his evil clutches.  I don’t want it to end like that movie.  Can my story have a happy ending, please?  And can You intervene for those out there that I know have it even worse than me, first?

Signed,
Me

I’m ready for Christmas.  I hope there’s a present under the tree for me.  I hope there’s at least one for you too.  And for everyone else who is crying out, I hope you’ll find hope in this season, too.  Give a listen to the song below.  It’s one of my very favorite bands, with a song that is close to my heart, although maybe right now we’re on the wrong side of it.  And may “God bless us, every one!”