I sat there in my car and wept. I was done. Done, done, done. And I hadn’t even started yet. The summer was what you might call “winding down,” and September was approaching. I had a knot in my stomach, as I knew what was on the horizon. My daughters would return to school and daycare, my wife would return to work, my social worker caseload would “explode,” as it does every fall, graduate school would resume, I’d begin recording a new music project, and I’d squeeze in nine concerts. I was overwhelmed just looking at my September calendar.
Things took a turn, however, as my ever-so-important list of obligations would take a back-seat to a series of emergencies taking place all around me. First, my closest childhood friend was hospitalized and subsequently had a death scare due to an allergic reaction to the treatment he received. Then, I learned that another close friend lost a family member to a violent murder/suicide. To top it off, a day later, I learned that a young woman, whom I had pastored when she was a teenager, lost her three-year-old son due to a seizure disorder. Although none of these scenarios directly affected my nuclear family, I felt overwhelmed and, of course, obligated to be at my friends’ disposal.
As stated, I sat there in my car after the wake for the three-year-old, and broke down. Not only was I overcome with emotion at the thought of losing one of my own children, but I was disappointed with myself for coming up short. I realized that I had very little to offer to any of my friends, all of whom counted on my availability. I was bone-dry. Reason being, I had been taking God for granted, and had been relying on my own strength to, well, live. This may have felt “sufficient” in my day-to-day life, as it is easy to distract oneself from the inevitable need for spiritual feeding with family life, entertainment, and more. Once I was truly needed, however, and others’ were depending on me, did it become evident that I was ill-equipped to lead, encourage, and serve?
Thankfully, our hope and strength can always be restored by a God who desires for us to seek Him for restoration and renewal. A God who brings us hope, peace, and strength in the midst of the most trying of circumstances. A God who acted on his promise, and bridged us to His Son through death and resurrection. To rely on any other source of strength would be foolish, for our God never leaves or forsakes us.
“Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ’This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.’ ” Ezekiel 37:11-12 NIV