Onward Christian soldier

I laid on my back in the rich green grass and stared up at the impossibly blue sky with its brilliant white lines and, suddenly, he was there again. At first I wasn’t sure, as he stood between some type of thin columns. But then he moved to the side and smiled. Or, perhaps, I was seeing his perpetual smile again, the one never needing to be put back in place as it had never been removed. He had on my favorite shirt. Like the sky, it was the bluest blue with strict, white, vertical lines. And his cream colored khakis with their sharp crease that fit like a glove. He looked stunning and a crescendo of love swelled in my heart once again. I was in the twilight state between sleep and awakening, but I was conscious enough to yearn to know if this apparition was real. So I asked him, “Is it really you?” Though his lips did not utter the sounds, I was sure I heard, “Of course!” He drifted rather than stepped closer, around the pillar, so I could see him clearly. And I was struck again by his nearly perfect, 40-ish, features. The smile remained, and I asked him again, “Are you real?” A perplexed look crossed his face, but I heard no words. His eyebrow went up quizzically as he continued to gaze at me kindly, much as, I imagine, the resurrected Lord must have when his disciples asked the same questions. A third time I asked him if he was real, and I reached out my hand, yearning to touch that solid, familiar one, but fully expecting to brush the air with my hungry fingertips. My heart pounded wildly and my spirit soared for a brief moment in time when, suddenly, my hand felt the familiar strong grasp of his dear one! Just as the Lord proved himself to Thomas by having him touch his nail scarred hand and pierced side, my faith in a bodily resurrection soared anew. Then, in surreal motion as if pulled through a dimensional vortex, the crisp blue shirt merged with that azure sky, and he was gone. I don’t pretend to understand all the possible ramifications of that visitation. I am only profoundly and eternally grateful for it. Real or not, the chimerical tryst infused me with a shot of absent hope that seems to constantly drain from my spirit like a sieve.

I am a study in contrasts as I attempt to navigate these frigid, stormy waters. Up and down on the penetrating, cascading swells, my days must be terribly confusing to the casual observer, as they are to me. But my Scotty Darlin’s visitation was not the only liberator sent from above. The past week I had begun to recognize the source of my chronically reiterate thoughts of despair and death. Recognizing the damaging effects of one’s mis-perceptions and mis-beliefs is an imperative action to accomplish the steps of moving forward. Moving on is not the correct term at all. For I will never move on, never want to. I know I have to move forward, though, and for so long I have absolutely denied the ability, the necessity, and the wherewithal to do so. So many things have happened to me during this impossibly painful path of grief that should never have happened that to now regain the proper course to navigate the future is certainly a supernatural endeavor. The achievement of such seemingly insurmountable hurdles will be incredibly arduous, I know. And I also know that, even though successful culmination is not in my immediate or foreseeable future, it is possible. I hear from innumerable counselors, friends, family, and grief studies how essential it is to recognize and confront destructive false beliefs whispered into my mind, heart, and spirit, and eradicate them. And I agree. Such thoughts are always, ultimately, from the evil one whose goal is to destroy—especially those who follow God. Such thoughts make any degree of recovery within the additional, insurmountable pressures of a broken heart unmanageable. Grief at the loss of a lifetime partner is impossible to describe with even the most prolific vocabulary. Pain is a relative term, unable to truly articulate what I feel in this circumstance. It bursts the boundaries of even the blackest imagination. Thus, I was required to decide: Would I choose to move forward, or would I choose to suffer under the unrelenting pressure of pain, misunderstanding, misrepresentation, confusion, alienation, and irreparable despair? I was in a critical locus of life or death decisions, if you will, and into this beehive of turbulence entered our old and dear pastor friend, Bob.

Just the night before, my beloved sister in Christ, Karla, had advised me to recall my own advice to her many years before, and to daily don the armor of God. Up till now, I’d been absolutely incapable of anything but wallowing in my own confused fog of pain. But now I felt my troubled, broken spirit begin to rise in indignation against the forces of evil who had chosen to make war against this supposedly helpless victim. To the rescue came a number of God’s mighty warriors: My old friend Karla, an incredibly wise and wonderful friend and mother; Michelle, my BFF, whose homespun love and faithful friendship were always on the mark; Dan, my precious brother-in-law, lifeline, and defender; Selaine, my stoic and insightful counselor; and finally, pivotally, Bob came back into my life. All of these mighty Christians, and many others, were saying the same thing. I was hamstrung because I was believing lies.

Bob was a street missionary on the Denny Regrade in Seattle. Shortly after I became a true Christian, I met him at Shoreline Christian Church, where he attended when not ministering on the streets to the homeless and hopeless. When Scotty, my beloved, began to earnestly desire Christ, Bob took him under his wing and discipled him into a life-changing relationship with the one true God. We were close friends for many years. Scott and Bob were deep brothers in Christ, and Bob’s precious wife, Denise, and I, close sisters. Many years later, Denise developed breast cancer, and in what seemed like mere moments, went home to Jesus, just like Scott. Bob was devastated. Denise was one of those rare creatures who stood by her man immovably in the mission to which God had called him. She was lovely and selfless, faithful, and the epitome of the Proverbs 31 woman. I often wished I were more like her. Into this reminiscent quandary of affliction, Bob was willing to reintroduce himself into my nightmare.

I walked the loop of Pioneer Park with Amaya numerous times, crying, as usual, inconsolably. Though I tried, and made to and fro “progress,” I seemed to fall back into deadly hopelessness daily. I had all but reconciled myself to a meaningless existence of continued drudgery—trying to give the girls hope, healing, and happiness, while still grieving without vision of a future and bereft of hope, healing, or happiness for myself. I saw Bob had called on my cell phone, which I rarely look at, and my heart leapt with inexplicable promise. His true understanding and sage advice would change my mindset imperatively. I had allowed lies, a common tool of Satan and his minions, into my mind and heart, the result of which had been a destruction of my identity in Christ, and insidious despair and hopelessness into my heart. David had suffered likewise, but through recognition of the true culprit, had been able to rise above the chronic voices to correct his thinking. The 4 C’s, I will never forget them now. Life is eternal and never again will I forget that most profound truth. The here and now is negligible compared to the eternality of truth, joy, peace, and love that I will spend with my Scotty Darlin’ and my beautiful Lord Jesus.

I will eject lies from my mind, soul, and spirit, and replace them with the truth of God: Confess my sins in any area I could think of. Cancel the ground I had given over to evil to lie to me about my identity in Christ, (a dearly beloved child of God bought by the blood of Jesus). Command all minion liars, in the name and power of Jesus, to leave my life and report their failure to their commander, knowing they have no recourse but to obey their creator, God. Consume all areas of my life vacated by them with the truth of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Not everyone who suffers under the terrifically, imposing weight of grief will have the need of learning to tell themselves the truth, but many will. Some may not see their need for God in doing so. Yet the forces at work in realms unseen by human eyes and hearts are impregnable but for the only force greater than themselves: God.

I still awaken and greet each new morning with a diverse array of emotions ranging from semblances of hope to dark and deep despair. But now I will immediately reach into my arsenal. I will put on the full armor of God so as to withstand the attacks of the evil ones (Ephesians 6:10-18). I will confess any sins that are revealed as I ask, “Search me, oh God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24). I’ll take every thought captive and offset any lies with truth, thus taking back any ground I have given over to the trespassers. (2 Corinthians 10:5). I’ll command those responsible for whispering these destructive lies into my ears, heart, and mind, to leave in the name of Jesus, and report their failure to the commander of the forces of evil in the heavenly realms. I’ll ask the Holy Spirit to come into my life and fill up every nook and cranny of my being thus disallowing any evil from influencing me. Then, although I know I will not feel it, I will praise and thank my God and Savior, Jesus Christ, for what I know to be the truth. And someday, far and away, my heart will align again with my mind.

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