Life has not been hard for me. Sure, I’ve had my ups and downs over the years. I’ve had my fair share of screw ups and trials. But all in all, I have had a pretty easy-going and full life. I’ve only experienced the death of one close family member (My grandma Yoerger), I’ve broken some bones here and there, been in the hospital a few times, and I’ve experienced the heartache of losing friends (just like most people). Although, when I look at my life honestly, it has been amazing. I have two very loving parents that have dedicated their lives to the Lord and have been married for 100 years. I have a cool relationship with my brother and we don’t hate each other (anymore). I’ve always had a core group of friends and I was never lonely growing up unless I somehow convinced myself that I was. The Lord has shown me the significance of doing ministry and fighting for people’s eternal lives. He has given me cool gifts to utilize. I have always been handed good jobs. I am healthy and I’ve never had serious surgery or life-threatening injury. I could go on.
With all that being said, I should be very grateful. I should wake up every morning and thank God for all the good things he has given me. I wish I could say I’ve always done that. Sadly, my pampered life has chartered me to live a life that is rich with entitlement and high expectations. The Lord has blessed me continually and that makes me a steward of those blessings. One reason I am writing this blog is to say I have not been a good steward. If I focus on the past year alone, I have taken the blessings God has given me and spit on them. Without saying the words, I have made it clear to God that “these blessings aren’t good enough. I want this too. Why can’t you give me this?”. It was more than questioning the blessings he gave me, though. I took that a step further and ‘said’ to God “Well, if you won’t give me what I want. I’ll take what I want. I’ll get what I want how I want to get it”. This is called rebellion. I pressed the play button on “playing games with God” and let me tell you, it did not look pretty. Everyone that knows me well, understands that I have a strong personality. For better or for worse, I have a way of getting my way. This works for some time, but I tried to strong-arm God and it blew up in my face. It didn’t happen all at once. It was a slow progressive process.
I remember the moment in my heart when I “pressed play”. The moment where I lost my joy. The date of my wedding was pushed back due to some communication issues that were going to be important to sort out before jumping into marriage. Tick..tick..boom. It was like one moment I could see clearly and the next, I was standing in a battle field; ears ringing, light-headed, vision obscured, head pressure. I was angry and confused. I was angry at people. I was angry at God. Voices were screaming at me constantly. My dreams felt shattered. Looking back, it was silly. Nothing bad even happened. If anything, things were going to be better after some more time. I couldn’t see that though.
My dreams felt shattered.
That was only the start. I have a tendency to dream and fantasize about situations. It has been a good thing in some situations but it has also been perpetually destructive in my life. I get a big plan in mind and have literally no idea what it will take to make that happen or what that dream even entails. It is what you could call suffocating tunnel vision. The problem I started to face in this situation was that I had a hard time controlling things. I couldn’t flip a switch and make something happen. This added to my frustration. My rebellion against God became more severe. I was deprived of almost all of my joy. I tried to find pleasure and fulfillment in illegitimate ways. My happy moments were fleeting and I started to just grit my teeth and do what I thought I needed to do. I made it up in my head that I would do as I’m told so I can get what I want. I’ll wait it out.
I was deprived of almost all of my joy.
This worked out grea…….TERRIBLY. I was not a happy person. I became even more frustrated. I bullied people and threw shade. People became objects to get what I want. If they didn’t make me look good, then they weren’t worth my effort or time. I was jealous in that it seemed like everyone else got what they wanted. I couldn’t listen to anyone that had something to say. Not even the closest people to me. The one’s I love dearly couldn’t even cut through the fog of my mind and I was left moving forward with my plan while God continued to put his foot down.
Fast forward 6 months.
I am no longer engaged. I am single and not dating anyone. I have moved into a new apartment with new people. I am in a new cell. There have been many changes. All of the dreams I had…shattered.
Its hard. I have never felt pain this deep before. About a month ago there were weeks where I couldn’t go to bed unless I cried. I have had nightmares regularly. I feel like I’ve walked into work looking no different than a zombie staring blankly at my computer screen. Tony Evans says it well, I was in “spiritual bondage”. My life fell apart around me and I couldn’t understand why. I was writhing around in agony. I couldn’t think straight. Voices screaming. Wishing I wasn’t alive. Wanting to give up and walk away totally. But, also trying to hold on to false hope and more dreams. Then I was struck by Isaiah 50:11
“Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with firebrands,
Walk in the light of your fire
And among the brands you have set ablaze.
This you will have from My hand:
You will lie down in torment.”
I was lighting my own fire. I have done that my entire life. The past year has been the story of Jordan lighting his own fire. That led me into a miserable situation and was continuing to torment me. This left me with a decision. It was a nostalgic crossroad. I remember when I was 14 and lying in my bed helplessly weeping. God was asking me, “Will you give up and trust me with your life Jordan, or will you continue to try to make life work on your own?”. I received Christ that night. Now 10 years later I face a very similar question, “Jordan, will you trust me? Will you abide in me? Have I ever failed you? Or will you continue to reject me?”.
A couple of weeks ago I was crying out to God. I told him that I give up. I said “uncle” because I was wrestling with him, and he was completely obliterating me. I knew that I had nothing left in the tank. I had two options to die. If I walked away, I would die. If I stayed and trusted God, I would also die. The keynote difference is that with the Lord, the death brings forth life (John 12:24).
I had two options to die.
I can say for the first time in my life that I want to truly die to myself. I’ve held so many ultimatums and reservations my entire life that it has caused my communion with Christ to falter. It caused me to see everything through a screen. Once I was able to finally just give up, the screen lifted. Just like that. I feel like Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”. God’s taking me on a walk and showing me my character and how skewed my thoughts have been. Things started to make sense. I think about the things I have done in the past year and all I can do is just shake my head. I find myself saying, “that didn’t even make sense” on a daily basis.
I just finished a book called “Abide in Christ” by Andrew Murray (Best book I’ve ever read). Oh how I wish I read this book years ago. In the midst of this suffering I have finally been able to see how necessary it is to abide in Christ and trust him. True fellowship with my creator didn’t seem likely unless I gave up everything. My dreams needed to be shattered because my dreams suck. This is one of my favorite excerpts from Murray’s book:
“Our hearts are continually prone to wander from Him; prosperity and enjoyment all too easily satisfy us, dull our spiritual perception, and unfit us for full communion with Himself. It is an unspeakable mercy that the Father comes with His chastisement, makes the world round us all dark and unattractive, leads us to feel more deeply our sinfulness, and for a time lose our joy in what was becoming so dangerous. He does it in the hope that, when we have found our rest in Christ in time of trouble, we shall learn to choose abiding in Him as our only portion; and when the affliction is removed, have so grown more firmly into Him, that in prosperity He still shall be our only joy.”
That is my confident hope. Jesus says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” That is what gets me through the day. The Lord wants to bless us. He has great plans for our lives. When I am hit with memories, regret, guilt, shame, more failure; my face can now be turned toward a gracious father that loves me dearly. There are moments of everyday that are painful. Yet, what a great comfort it is, to say in that moment, “Father I abide in you. I trust you”. That comfort turns to joy. A joy that I have missed for so long.
Thank you for freeing me to be with you, Lord.