It’s almost 3am, and I can’t sleep…again. One of the side-effects of PTSD, I’m sure. I never really ever thought that I’d experience that. I mean, isn’t post traumatic stress disorder reserved for war vets and violent crime victims? Apparently not.
For some reason, He speaks to me a lot at night. Maybe it’s because that’s when I’m most still. Most silent. Most receptive to hear Him. Or maybe it’s because He realizes that’s when I need Him most. The nights are still so very hard.
As I sit typing these words, I’m listening to “How He Loves” as performed by WorshipMob. It just hit me to give it a listen for the hundredth time, just as it hit me to start writing. It’s one of two songs that were performed at Mia’s memorial service, and it’s really bittersweet for me. Not only does it remind me how much Christ loves me, but it’s also is a constant reminder of one of the hardest and darkest days of my life. Sometimes I can listen to the song without breaking down, as I’m doing now. Other times, however, I curl up into the fetal position and sob uncontrollably. It’s such a powerful song, and this version has become my favorite.
So why am I writing tonight? Especially at 3am when I have to get up in three hours to get ready for work. I guess because it’s on my heart to do so. I guess it’s because somewhere out there, someone is experiencing so much pain. So much heartache. So much grief and so much loss. He’s telling me to let you know that you’ll be okay. I know that sounds cliché, but you will. I know this because I’m still okay. And He’s the only reason for that. I mean, sure my wife and family play an important role in that as well, but take all of them out of the equation, and the only thing left is God. He’s the ONLY thing in my life that’s constant and never-changing.
He’d been walking with me all day. My first three calls on my shift ended up with me talking to someone about Him. Don’t you just love days where you can feel His presence from the moment you get up in the morning? When you wake up with a song of praise playing in your head that you just can’t stop singing? That’s how it was for me yesterday.
As the day wore on, I wasn’t able to talk to Him much. It was a really busy day…20 calls in all. On the last one, however, He reminded me He was still there.
I transported this 21-year-old kid to jail for the detectives. He’s facing some misdemeanor charges, but he could still be looking at some time. As I was walking Him into processing, he said something to the effect of “here we go again.” I said to him, “I guess you’ve been here before, then.” He said a few times, though it’s been awhile. I then asked him if he was tired of coming. He, of course, replied in the affirmative. He also said something that made NO sense at all to me. He told me that it would probably be better if he just went to prison for five to seven years instead of being put on probation. His reasoning was that he wouldn’t be on paper when he got out. I looked at him and asked him that rhetorical, “Are you kidding me???” I told him there was another option. He could spend his probation straightening his life out and not having to worry about violating. Then he’d have his freedom, and prison wouldn’t be an option.
I finished up his paperwork and began to walk out. I wished him good luck, and walked out the first door to the sally-port. As I opened the second outer door, I stopped. Something in my head told me to go and tell him about Christ. It was almost as if He was whispering in my ear, “Go and tell him about me.”
I’ve had that feeling before, and I knew that I would regret missing an opportunity to share His strength as He’s done for me so many times over these last two years and six months. So, I let the outer door close and went back inside.
I looked at this young man, and the first thing I did was ask him where he went to church. That’s a great way to break the ice when you want to minister to someone, by the way. He replied that he hadn’t been going like he should, but he named the church he goes to when he does make it.
I then explained to him that there was a better way. I told him that he could choose to keep running with the same crowd doing the same things getting the same results. Or, he could change his life. God wanted him to change his life.
As I spoke to him, I could feel the Spirit well up within me. The hair stood up on the back of my neck and along my arms. I so love to feel His presence so keenly. I told this young man that God had a calling and a plan for him. He could continue to run away from Him, or He could turn and embrace Him. He could accept where He wanted to lead him. I told him that God would never bring him to jail unless it was to minister and testify to someone. And I had never met this kid before this encounter. Didn’t even know his name until I started his paperwork.
He looked at me and said, “Are you kidding me?” He said, “I don’t believe this.”
He then proceeded to tell me that he went to church yesterday (Sunday) for the first time in a long time and there was a banner on the wall of the sanctuary. It had one word on it…Lifechangers. The sermon was about changing your life.
I smiled and told him that God definitely has a plan for his life. God used me, a total stranger to him, to hammer home a message that He started giving him the day before. Had probably been giving him for a while now. Christ was calling him.
The last thing I said to him was that he needed to get to the foot of the cross while he was there. And when he got out, if he needed something else to help him along his path, to look me up. I’d help him in any way I could. Thank You, Father, for allowing me to be the messenger.
The point to this story is this. He loves us. Ultimately. Unconditionally. Irrevocably. Unendingly. No matter what we do in our lives and how badly we may screw things up, His love for us will never cease. And He will never stop reaching out to us.
My pain is always going to be here in some way, shape or form. At least until I’m made whole again in heaven with my little girl. But it’s NOTHING compared to the pain and suffering He endured for me. HIS pain was beyond anything I could ever fathom. It was a pain brought on by my sin and the sins of every soul, past, present and future. And He took it because that’s what you do when you love your children that much. You sacrifice everything for them.
“Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins! But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”
– Isaiah 53:4-5
I would just encourage you now to look to Him in your time of need. There’s no sickness too vile. No grief to agonizing. No hurt too deep that He can’t touch and heal. It may not be how we want or when we expect it, but He always comes through.
My family and I continue to grieve, but we also continue to heal by His grace and mercy. Won’t you allow Him to work in your life, too? Give it all to Him today. He’s a big God who wants all your burdens and cares. Trust in Him and not on what you can see or understand. He’ll change your life.
Here’s the version to “How He Loves” that has been playing over and over while I’ve been writing. Remember…He loves you beyond all human comprehension.