{first published May 1, 2017}


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)

Last 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, and little else. 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, 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 still 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.

This morning, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I felt a huge weight, a burden holding me back. I hadn’t gotten enough sleep. My dream had disturbed me. Voices inside me were causing me to feel agitated and restless, spiritually drained.

But I took a deep breathe, and God the Holy Spirit gave me the strength to get up. I dressed for church, made coffee, prayed. And I was uplifted. I wasn’t speaking in tongues, shouting from the rooftops, or dancing victoriously. But I made it to worship where I join the communion of saints and was fed in spite of how I felt.

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)