Monday, June 24, 2013

My trail

The deeper into this trail I go, the more I seem to know about the trees. In fact, the more I seem to know about the trail itself, the creatures who reside here, the air, the wind, the features of the land and everything else that makes up this place. This metaphor for the road we take in life is apt for me, because instead of coming to more open places, like one might think would be the case, I find that the further I go, the deeper I get and not the opposite.

This is not to say that there is an absence of light, nor are things getting darker. In fact, I believe that things are getting clearer for me and in fact I am attaining some sense of clarity, but everything around me takes me into a deeper sense of understanding, not a lighter one. I do not feel as if I am shedding, nor am I feeling weightless, but instead am taking on new layers that reveal wisdom and experience.

Tonight, my wife and I attended our church for an evening of prayer. Specifically we prayed for each other, we lifted up those who are hurting, struggling with addiction, struggling with relationship issues, coming to terms with a major illness or disease, trying to determine which course to take concerning difficult decisions and so forth. Tonight I bowed my head and prayed for specific people standing or sitting near me. I prayed for specific people in my life. And tonight I prayed corporately for the people in my city, including the guys I work with. As I sat or stood and prayed, it occurred to me how very blessed I am and in fact, how very blessed my life has become.

I could list off my blessings but instead, let me say that I have endured everything and more of what I heard and prayed for in that room tonight. This is not some to-do list that I've checked off so I can compare with others, this is honest, open-hearted revelations of a guy that has tried life his way and finally come to the conclusion that I need to live life His way. This does not make me some sage on a hill, full of BC comic wisdom, but instead, it makes me appreciate the things that others are going through.

I sat next to a young guy tonight. I know for a fact that life has been a serious mess for him lately. I can't divulge details but you get the drift, you can surely imagine, you've undoubtedly dealt with similar problems. This guy doesn't like to draw attention to himself and yet here he was asking for help. I'm not sure what drew him there tonight because he has withdrawn for several weeks now, but there he was! That takes courage, I remember. I understand his doubt, his cynicism, his anger, even his loneliness. I know for a fact that at the very center of what is messing with him is one simple thing and that is grace.

I say it's simple, but of course, there's more to it than that. For years, I struggled with the concept of grace and in fact, it's what kept me away from church and from God for 20 years. Even though I accepted the idea that there might be a God, I couldn't believe that I personally could be forgiven, that I personally could receive grace. At the heart of everything that was wrong in my life was one simple truth; at the end of the day, I could not even forgive myself for being such an arrogant, self-righteous, conceited, know-it-all of a jerk, so how in the world could God forgive me?

Coming to a place of understanding grace was not easy for me. It would take years for me to process and to dissolve the layers I had built up. But now, as I look back I realize that grace was shown to me by a few brave men who were honest enough with me when I needed it and now, sitting in that room tonight, I realized that I now have a similar opportunity to share with others who cannot fathom the idea of forgiveness and grace.

This trail I'm on is new, for sure, but even though I've never been down it, there is a sense of comfort that cannot be escaped. The amazing part about the trail is I'm getting to put up signs so others can check it out too, it's not a private pathway. I know there are many who will not even look down this trail, and for them, my heart breaks. But for those that are interested, the trail is here and it turns away no one. All you have to do is follow it.

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