Sunday, February 22, 2015

I Will Remember You, [General Kenobi]

In my frequent dalliances with depression, the best descriptive metaphor (simile?) I've been able to come up with is this:

Imagine going about, living your life as you normally would, until one day, suddenly, you've fallen down into an enormous chasm.  The chasm's not uncomfortable, by any means, but none of your friends or family can join you or even help you out of the chasm, and the sunlight is completely blocked out; however, all of those details are hardly worth mentioning initially.  Because in the beginning, you know that your chasm situation is temporary, and even though it's presently dark as pitch down there, you know it to be bright and sunny outside.  And just because your friends and family can't join you presently, or can't hold onto the other end of the rope that's conveniently in the bottom of the chasm with you for metaphor's (simile's?) sake, doesn't mean they won't be by another day.

The problem begins when, at some point, you've been in the chasm for so long you start to accept your current surroundings as the foundation for truth.  Darkness and Emptiness are all that you know; the sun which you once knew to be the source of light and contentment may as well be a unicorn for how much relevance and impact it now has on your life, on your current situation. What once was a rather lengthy load screen to the next stage of your life has now become an entire season of desperation  with what feels like no way out.  Because remember those friends and family members who couldn't get to you back in the beginning?  Well, they're back in full force, shouting at you to toss that rope up to them, so they can pull you up.  And speaking of that rope, it's super zany!  Sometimes, it's too short to reach the folks up on the ledge.  And sometimes, it's long enough, and you throw it up to the ledge, but no one is on the other side,  and you can't do this yourself.  And sometimes, the rope's not even down in the chasm with you at all.  In fact, it's with your loved one's up on the ledge!  And they're spewing every possible encouraging phrase to get you to grab on to that rope as tightly as you can so they can heave and ho you to safety.

And sometimes...though it's by far the scariest of all...sometimes, that rope disappears altogether.  Sometimes, it's just you.  Just you, and the ninety degree chasm wall without a foothold.  Just you, the ninety degree wall, and your own thoughts--on repeat and shuffle--with 7.1 surround sound.

This kind of desperation begs the question: what next?

Over the course of the last two months, I found myself in the kind of situation I never dreamed of.  Two car accidents (minus one car), the resurgence of my grandfather's lung cancer, money troubles, etc.  It finally got to a point where the anxiety and the tears, much like my worries and the phone calls from State Farm, were on repeat ad nauseam.  In my desperation, I turned to God.

 For the first time, in, I don't know, maybe a year?  I cracked my Bible open and began to read Noah's account from Genesis.  I've read this story hundreds of times, starting from the felt screens in my elementary Sunday school classes.  For those unfamiliar with the story it goes like this:  In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth and basically everything else including man and woman.  Adam and Eve sin, thereby passing along their sin nature to the rest of their offspring.  By the time Noah comes along, mankind is totally wicked.  God is so disheartened by the state of his prized creation (with the exception of Noah and his family), he decides to bring about a flood, wiping everything out, thus allowing Him to start over.  Because Noah is the blameless sort, God commands Noah to build an ark for not just the "two of every kind" of animal, but for his family and their family as well.

As I said, I've heard this story so many times (I'm pretty sure I even paid money to watch Evan Almighty), but when I read it this time, I was struck speechless by the opening words in Genesis 8:

"But God remembered Noah..."

But God remembered Noah.  It's a simple enough phrase, but it holds so much weight to those of us that are suffering.  As a kid, I was always under the impression that the flood just lasted that whole "40 days, 40 nights" thing.  But as I was reading through this, that was hardly the case.  That's just the duration of the rain.  If I understand the account correctly, Noah was on that boat for another 150 days.  That's, like, one third of a year.  And he wasn't alone on that boat.  There were the animals, sure, but he was stuck in there with his family, too.  You could not PAY me to go on a cruise with my family (not even one with updated plumbing accommodations).  ESPECIALLY not a safari animal cruise.

Because I'm sure at first, Noah was all honored that God chose him to be the one that got saved from this huge flood, that he was going to save all these animals and stuff.  But I'm betting by about three weeks in, when Shem got into it with Ham about how his snoring was louder than even the Hyenas, Noah was like, "I am so done. Why me?!"

But that's just it.  It was him, out there in the middle of the flood waters, with no one for miles, and there must have been some days where he felt like he was in that scary chasm with no rope.  And I think that's precisely why Moses makes a point in assuring the reader that "God remembered Noah."  Because if God remembered Noah, why wouldn't he have remembered Moses?  Why wouldn't he have remembered those twenty-one slain Christian brothers and their loved ones in Egypt?  Why wouldn't he remember my grandfather?

And more close to home, why wouldn't he remember General Kenobi?

At no point did Noah go through this ordeal alone.  And while, I'm pretty sure, Noah's ideal timeline would have been a heck of a lot sooner than some 200 days, God issued rescue according to his timeline, but he remembered Noah and remained by his side throughout the entire ordeal.  "God remembered Noah."

When I read this passage last Thursday, this seemed like such a revelation, and since that time, this small, but deceitful voice has since then whispered defiantly, "Well, of course, he remembered Noah. He was the only person left in the world."

But since that time, I came across this phenomenal blog post which talked seriously about arming oneself in the armor of God, and the Bible is the sword with which we use to mercilessly flay the enemy.  So in response to that voice, I point to Isaiah 41:9-10a "I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you.  I said, 'You are my servant': I have chosen and have not rejected you.  So do not fear, for I am with you..."

I have no idea what God has next in store for me.  All I know is that for the first time in a long, long time I can breathe, and I know it's because rather than trusting in myself, I am trusting in Him.  It's not been the easiest path by far, and there are some moments when it has been scary as all hell, but I know when I come out on the other side, bloody fingertips mutilated, having clawed my way out of my own chasm, I will grasp to this promise like it is my lifeline (because it is):

"Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
you will restore my life again; from the depths of the
earth you will again bring me up.  You will increase my
honor and comfort me once again." - Psalm 72:20-21

Keelah Se'lai,

The General

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