I just got this exact text from my dad.
"Hi dear. I have looked for my Sony Walkman for 2 days. Did we by chance loan it to you guys? Dad" (yes, he signed his name in the text.)
I was tempted to reply: "Oh, so sorry, but I accidentally left it in 1988."
(Note to self: get dad an iPod for Father's Day.)
It's a funny story. But despite his technology delays, he is a very wise guy. And a funny guy. In this photo, he's petting a taxidermied turtle at a museum just for the sake of the photo, and probably, to make my kids laugh.
But he wasn't always the wise guy he is today. My dad has quite a testimony.
It's not my place to tell his story for him, but recently he shared with me some words that he used to encourage someone else. I asked him if I could share parts of it on my blog, and he said yes. Just for some background, my dad did not become a believer until he was in his 30's. I remember attending his baptism when I was very young, so I really only ever knew my dad as the redeemed man he was, over these most recent thirty-odd years.
The previous thirty years, however, were not all ones he was proud of. The story goes that at his lowest point, my mom was in the hospital with a fatal condition in her heart and needed surgery. My brother and I were very small. And my dad was completely at a loss as to how to handle it all. After tucking us in bed one night, he felt a deep fear for the first time in his life, fell to his knees, and pleaded for God to save my mom's life. He vowed to give his life to God, and promised to be willing to share his story forevermore with anyone. Well, God agreed to that, I guess, and has given my dad opportunity after opportunity to share his story. He has been a Bible study teacher in their home for many years, and will truly speak to anyone about God. On one such recent occasion, he had these thoughts that I wanted to share with you today. This is what grace can do with a broken man:
To me, painful things in life brought me back to Jesus. Why do I say that?? Because he is the man of sorrows, the only one who understands true brokenness and pain.
I relate back to the few hours before Jesus' death. He knew he was the Lamb of God being led to the slaughter. He faced mental and physical suffering greater than we all know, along with the grief from all his family and friends that lived it with him.
Jesus and his disciples had the last supper and followed him to a place called Gethsemane which means "oil press". Symbolically, it represents those places in our lives of "deep pressing pain and agony". We each go through our own Gethsemanes in our lives. You may be in the depths of yours today. This was the time and place in Jesus' life that was intimate, painful, and agonizing for him. He asked his buddies to stay near during this difficult time he was going through. He told them "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death, so remain here and keep watch with me" (Mat 26:36-38) He then fell on his face and prayed "My father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, yet not as I will , but as you will". (Luke 22:44)
The sad part of this story is that his best and closest friends failed him. They fell asleep during his time of greatest need. What this means to me is that support of family and friends is great. And support groups are great. But there are personal Gethsemanes you must walk through completely alone. You will feel the loneliness while going through the pain. Your best friends may not be able to do all you wish they would. They will try to understand, but often they can't. Some may even turn against you.
Now for the good news - Christ has been there! He knows your pain and agony. And, when you are pressed down in your Gethsemane, that's when Christ will be there for you. You will have all you need in Christ. You can call on him and you will find him. I know, because he has met me in my Gethsemane. And, he will be there again and again for you.
You too may be in anguish and may have hit your physical limit. You may be suffering from a painful injustice. May feel ashamed and fear rejection. This pain and suffering probably grips your soul and sabotages your thought processes. You may feel helpless, enraged, confused, disappointed, depressed, misunderstood, humiliated and at your end! Ultimately, you probably wonder, just as Jesus did, "Why has God forsaken me?" You may feel all this stuff, but hear this---You are not alone! There is hope! And there is help. Jesus is at your side, and He waits for you to take hold of His hand.
No one stays closer than Christ.
No one is more unconditionally accepting than Christ.
No one is more available than Christ.
No one heals deeper than Christ.
No one comforts better than Christ.
Remember, he is the "man of sorrows", intimately acquainted with grief. He understands what there is to lose. He lost everything for your salvation. So whatever you're facing today, your pain is no mistake. It's no accident. In fact, it may be how Christ wants to draw you back to Him. What he has to offer you is his rest, peace, and joyful living down the line. I am telling you this story because it's also my story.
My dad's words are so perfect for us today, the day before Good Friday, where we remember the garden and the suffering Jesus underwent. My dad's words remind us of why He went through what he did.
To save us from ourselves, and to be able to say "I've been there" to us, no matter what. It's what makes Him the best possible comforter.
There is nowhere Jesus wouldn't go to prove that He gets it. He knows sorrow. He knows loneliness. Despair. Abandonment. And He knows us.
And loves us anyway.
ALSO! Please check out Annalea's blog today,
if you want to know what a "Day in the Life" of ME is really like.