I was having coffee this morning with a close friend of mine, and I was sharing with him how I feel like I am a different man since the death of my son almost two years ago. In many ways I feel like somebody has shaken the Etch A Sketch of my life and started over. Things to me do not look the same as they did two years ago, neither do I look the same as a person. Outwardly, I might look the same, but I can assure you that I am not the same man inside that I was two years ago. Is that all for the negative, absolutely not! Life is about learning, growing, and maturing as we get older. Not all older people have gained wisdom, but all that have gained wisdom are one day older.
The movie Princess Bride was released in 1987. It is about a young woman, Buttercup, and the love of her life, sweet Wesley. I can think of no better movie that demonstrates my point. Halfway through the movie, Buttercup and Wesley are fleeing from soldiers while being driven into the Fire Swamp. This swamp was filled with unpredictable belching fires that would come out of the earth at unexpected times. On top of the fire, they had to fight off the RUS's (Rodents of Unusual Size), as well as the quicksand. By the time they had been singed by the fires, bitten by the RUS's, and entrapped by the quicksand, they emerged out the other side a little worse for wear, but they emerged none the less. However, the pursuing soldiers that had driven them into the Fire Swamp to begin with, had now gone completely around the swamp in order to ensnare them on the other side.
Greg, what is your point you might ask? I would make the case that Buttercup and Wesley were not fools for going through the Fire Swamp, as it taught them an invaluable lesson to be used down the road. That is wisdom my friends! Not all lesson outcomes of trials, tribulations, and testings are meant to be utilized today. Some are meant to stay in our quiver to be pulled out at the right moment. Wisdom gained today, is not always shared in the same here and now. It might be a different picture on the Etch A Sketch that is shared in wisdom with somebody down the road. Not all wisdom attained is meant to be shared. Some is meant just for you as a guiding principle in life.
I have heard a friend of mine recently say that he wished he just wouldn't wake up in the morning. Another is seeking aggressive cancer treatments out of state. Another's wife is getting ready to embark upon surgery to remove her cancer. Another is dealing with a child who rejects the God of his youth, for the pleasures of this world. There are hurts all around us, and sometimes we might either wish that our picture was shaken up and that we can start over, or we might even wallow in the shame of the current picture that we are living in. One thing that I know for certain, is that your story is not over. Life is not hopeless, and you do not need to live in fear. You might feel alone, but you are not alone. I see you and God sees you. Even though some of you might not like your current situation, you can do something about it.
Just like Buttercup and Wesley went through that Fire Swamp, they emerged out the other side. Yes, they were then captured, but that is part of the story. Their trials, tribulation, and testings were not over. They thought that they could not take anymore, but they could. Many take the I Corinthians 10:13 passage out of context and say that God will not give you more than you can bear. That is not what it is saying. It is talking about temptations and says that he will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able. The problem with thinking you can't take anymore, is only God knows your breaking point. Several years ago, I climbed the Manitou Incline with my two sons in Colorado Springs, CO. I will never forget the euphoria I felt when I thought I had reached the top, only to realize that it was a false horizon and that there was a ways more to go. If you are in a trial, don't be surprised if it carry's on longer than you anticipated.
In summation, this is not meant to be a depressing blog, but one of hope. Hope in the fact of who we can put our trust in, being Jesus Christ. To trust and know that we are not alone, and that He holds us in the palm of his hand. Hope that even though you might be going through a season of despair, isolation, and loneliness, God is in control. Sometimes God wants us to be men and women of action and shake our Etch A Sketch of life, in order to change the situation we are in. This might be an abusive relationship, dead-end job, etc. Other times he might come along and shake it for us. In my case it was losing my firstborn son. In others in might be an unexpected illness. However, it is important to note that the shaking of your life Etch A Sketch does not have to be tumultuous. It might be a new life in Christ, and old things are passed away, and new things are being drawn for you every single day. There is HOPE my friends. Just know that your story is not over and is still being written!