During the month of March, I’ve asked 4 godly men that have influence my life to guest post on the blog. It has been 14 years since I served a summer with Ryan Dalgliesh in San Antonio, TX. Time flies. Ryan knew me in my earliest years of ministry and the impact Ryan left most on me was a love and reverence for Scripture. Ryan is an author, pastor and evangelist with Higher Rock ministries. I know God has someone in mind for today’s word from Ryan. I’m honored to introduce you to today’s guest poster, Ryan Dalgliesh
Maybe it is more accurate to say that hearts get crushed. There are those things that are so dark in our past when we think of them years later we find they seem to echo in some hollow place deep within us.
Seared into our brain is the time as a small child our mother woke us from a nap by slamming open the door and with wild weeping screamed, “your dad doesn’t want us anymore”.
The overwhelming weight of responsibility you knew each night you got out of bed to comfort your crying mother. Perhaps you would pretend you had a bad dream, or that you were scared of the dark. You’d muss your hair so it would look like you had slept and you’d go into the living room and ask for a drink of water. At six you didn’t know what to do. So you sat there in your super hero pajamas with your mom so she wouldn’t feel so alone. After all, you were the man of the house now it seemed.
The time your drunk father took you bowling with his friends and shoved quarters into your hand asking you to take your sister to play in the arcade. Later when he came to you and told you he was leaving he’d point with a shaky finger to the man who was going to take you home. You were ten, your sister seven. But you went and introduced yourself to that man who did take you to his house and let you sit on his couch until nearly three in the morning when your dad showed up. You couldn’t cry then because you had to hold your sister’s hand. She was so distraught and afraid. You didn’t have time to be. But later that night you’d rebuke your father. That’s what a fifth grader was supposed to do, right? It was time to grow up. No time for G.I. Joes.
So the years pass and the stories pile on. By the time you are in college you are clinically depressed. Nineteen years old and afraid of the dark was a little embarrassing but you wouldn’t tell anyone. Nightmares kept you from sleep and every time you did sleep you’d wake in a cold sweat.
While at school you’d regularly come back from class to that stupid answering machine blinking its mocking red-eye. You had another message. It was from parents who told you not to come home anymore. Life was better without you they said.
If you did go home you would sleep with a loaded pistol under your bed and a knife under your pillow, if all of your worst fears came true.
Hearts do get crushed. And we wonder how we could ever recover from such things.
Twenty years ago the landscape of my life was a vast desert with a pit of pain the size of the Grand Canyon smack dab in the middle of it. Way down in the bottom of that pit was a trickle of a river that had somehow remained through the drought of life.
I grew up in church.
I became a Christian at 3. Not just a pretend Christian. I was really saved! I really wanted to know Christ. I wanted to love him. At four, I knew I wanted to preach. I went to church to learn as much as I could. I went to camp to understand God better. He was all I had. But my heart was crushed more and more as each year passed. My junior year in high school I wrote a short simple poem:
Lost in a sea of emotion
Hidden by waves of pain
Since there is no one to save me
Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain
By college I hated myself. I didn’t know how not to. I had failed. I had tried to hold things together. I had tried to make things okay. I had lost.
But the river was still there. It was the one thing that kept me from giving up. In John 4 and John 7 Jesus talks about when we come and drink from Him the Spirit will fill us with springs/rivers of living water. Psalm 46 speaking of Jesus says that there is a stream whose rivers make glad the city of God. Ezekiel 47 talks of a river that flows from the altar (the place of sacrifice) and Revelation 22 tells us of a river that flows from the throne of the Lamb of God. Both of these rivers produce life and healing wherever they go.
Down in the bottom of my pit the river still surged on. I still had a little life in me. My breath had been taken, my identity had been stolen and hope was on life support, but there was still a little life.
At this point in life I had tried three times to get through the Bible and had failed but 19 years ago, I started again. It was February 1, 1995. I was nineteen. I read it and haven’t put it down since. For the last 19 years at least twice a year I’ve been all the way through the Scripture.
Year by year the river began to swell. The river of Christ became a whelming flood that crested the pit of hurt and shame and spread across the desert plain of my heart.
What had once been life hanging on by a thread became life abundant. For the first time every breath felt fresh and full. My identity was no longer in the sum of my experiences but rather the sum of Christ’s work on the cross. Hope bounded into my life with all of his friends. I felt joy and peace for the first time in nearly two decades.
I can’t overstate the importance of knowing Christ and knowing His Word. The lies and the fears that I once believed were banished by the power of the Scripture.
It didn’t happen in a day, but it did happen.
It makes me sad to think that Bobi Ann knows me from 14 years ago. The man she knew then was still on the journey to being made whole. I wish she knew me better now. I get weepy these days thinking of the overwhelming beauty of my God. Jesus and His cross are my daily boast. The Spirit floods me with more peace and life than I ever imagined possible.
I know hearts get broken and crushed.
Really, I do know.
But God is near to the brokenhearted and he does save those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
Whatever hurt or shame mocks at you from the shadows of your mind will come to an end in Christ. Dive into the Bible and learn better who He is and who you are in Him and that river of Jesus that seems to be so far buried in your pain will begin to swell until the banks of your wounded heart can no longer contain him and he floods your world.
Question: Are there hurts you struggle to let go of? Have you gotten determined to let God do His work in you?