This morning I'm thinking about those who are trapped, isolated and usually forgotten by families. Men and women who are alive, but have been forsaken and abandoned by the rest of society. Many of them are overcome with shame and their daily companions are hopelessness and helplessness.
This morning I was withdrawn. Awake. Silent. Horizontal on the bed. Feeling trapped. And even though my best friend was preparing herself for the day, in the bathroom next to our bedroom, so that she could begin her daily ritual of breakfast preparation ... and even though there were 9 other people living in our house ... and even though God was still present and in charge of my life ... I was feeling isolated and forgotten. Forsaken and abandoned by the world in which I grew up. In solitary, making friends with embarrassment and shame for the anger I unleashed on two really good friends the night before.
"A failure." I heard it whispered in my head. "Maybe God is attempting to help you through a transition back to a normal life. You are out of fuel. You are old enough for retirement. You aren't really making much of a difference anyway. It's time for a change."
I sense my wife coming to my side of the bed. She sits down close to me. Quietly she asks me, "What are you thankful for today." My silence continues for a few moments. My cognitive resources can recall several expected answers. My emotions are too strong to allow them to escape my lips. "Good question," I reply softly.
Not long after my response, my wife read this statement to me: Thanksgiving to God is the only thing that heals our view of the world.
When I stepped out of the KLM airplane this past October 15th, and entered Entebbe Airport here in Uganda, I reentered a War Zone. I came equipped with fresh vision and energy. I was prepared to get back to the basic. This was my 10th year attempting to bring Christ to this nation and it was time to simply love people. This was my only goal. The foundation of ministry. The goal of followers of Christ. And, it seemed simple enough.
That was six weeks ago. My soul is a little beat up. I've faced challenges that I could have never anticipated. I've been betrayed and abandon by one of our associates with whom we have worked for 10 years. He was given responsibilities and assets that required trust. But, that's the bad news. Though evidence of the spiritual war.
The good news is that three of our other associates joined arms with me and TOGETHER we salvaged, revived, and advanced the project that was sorely neglected. The unity and energy we have shared has been gifted to us by the Holy Spirit and we are proud of what God has done in us and through us.
But, for some unknown reason, simply because I didn't know where the keys were to our vehicle, I lashed out at two of them last night. Most would consider it a small thing and perhaps justified. Though it was brief, it was passionate. It was condescending and abrupt. It was the flesh. Not the Spirit.
Though I repented and sought forgiveness soon after it happened ... and though I was graciously forgiven ... I woke this Thanksgiving morning feeling like a prisoner.
After Pam encouraged me, I drug my body off the bed, showered and dressed for the day, I lugged my bible to the veranda and did what my wife encouraged me to do: "Read the Psalms."
She is a very wise lady. She understands the nature of the war. It is a battle for truth. The enemy traffics in lies. Jesus is truth. She knew I was involved in an intense wrestling match and my soul was in danger. I was discouraged.
I read. It was a song written by David when he was in a dark and confined place ... a real prison, if you will.
I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord's mercy. I pour out my complaints before Him and tell Him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my eneimies have set traps for me. I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no cares a bit what happens to me. THEN I pray to you, O Lord. I say, "You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life. Hear my cry, for I am very low. Rescue you me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. Bring me out of prison so I can thank you. The godly will crowd around me, for you are good to me." (Psalm 142)BRING ME OUT OF PRISON SO I CAN THANK YOU.
He has brought me out of prison so I can thank Him. Happy Thanksgiving.