Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:7-8)
One night I had a dream. I was a pastor again, this time in a large church. People were praising me. Word was getting out about me. My reputation was spreading. My name and photo had even been placed on a Snickers bar. I was getting full of myself. I was heading for a fall.
The dream was not far from the truth (except for the Snickers bar). There was a time when my ministry was celebrated, I was advancing in my career, and my name was recognized. I like to think I gave God the credit, but I fear all too often I didn’t. Then, I fell. Hard. In my case, my mental illness got the best of me. This thorn in my flesh humbled me — spiritually, emotionally, physically, and relationally. I thought all was lost and attempted to take my own life.
But God wasn’t finished with me yet. I have lost much — my pastoral ministry, my marriage, my financial savings. Yet, I have gained hope and have grown in faith that God is with me in Christ. Even in the darkness. Even in the valleys. Perhaps especially in the darkness and the valleys.
Now, I am intent on focusing on “the fear of the LORD,” reverence for God’s power, awe for God’s majesty. Scripture assures me that as I do this, I will find healing — not just for my body, but for my mind and spirit.
Many mornings I struggle to get out of bed. I feel a huge weight, a burden holding me back. My sleep is restless. My dreams disturb me. Voices inside me cause me to feel agitated and restless, spiritually drained.
Then I take a deep breathe, and God the Holy Spirit gives me the strength to get up. I dress for the day, make coffee, pray. And I am uplifted. I don’t speak in tongues, shout from the rooftops, or dance victoriously. But I do what needs to be done and, in spite of myself, sometimes delight in it.
God feeds us no matter how we feel — when we seek the LORD with open hearts and open minds. God heals us through the Word as we turn from sin and towards Him. We are refreshed for life as we lean on God’s understanding and walk in His ways.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10)