“Just plain lost.”
That’s what this guest in worship had written on his prayer request card. Life was tough with surgeries, with financial issues, with housing, then he wrote those three telling words which caught my heart. I had never read a clearer lament. Lost. That pervasive sense of hopelessness and despair. I reached out to him immediately.
Unfortunately, I’ve had that feeling even while being “found.” I know the source of my strength, the confidence of my faith, the hope of my life, the joy of my salvation in Jesus, yet, there are times, like this week, when in the middle of what I know — in my head — my heart becomes unconvinced and even filled with propaganda and lies. It is like billboards fill up with messages that my heart blasts out against me. These feel true but are not.
What right have I to feel any of these things? Afterall I have no real problems — no one is out to kill me because I walk out my faith in Christ. My atheist neighbor loves me! He told me this. I am not battling pancreatic cancer, like my good brother David Beck whose one request this week was perseverance. He wrote in a recent blog:
“A lot of thoughts and feelings shift and re-shift along the cancer journey. There are so many different emotions — from joy to deep sadness; from ‘I can do this’ to ‘I can’t do this anymore;’ from energized to complete exhaustion. The emotions are so strong and so varied that it can be a challenge just to keep up with what is going on within oneself. “
When I read his litany I thought, “That’s exactly what I sound like within my head, and yet, I am not battling cancer!”
Some days I think I resemble an infant with colic, screaming his lament, unaware that his mom or dad is holding him, seeking to comfort him with soft, soothing words over against his rigid, taut, angry, hurting body.
This guy at church with his prayer request, this new brother’s heart is not unlike mine. I haven’t learned his whole story. Certainly, sometimes feeling “lost” can relate to never having experienced the saving work of Jesus personally at all. That’s huge and takes a turnaround to solve.
But it also can be just like me. Lost in the middle of all he might know of Christ. Lost in the battle for truth when the lies speak loudly. Lost because hope is so distant if feels like it will never come. “Just plain lost” because there is no buoy to grasp.
For me, the gift of community is that truth can get the upper hand through another’s voice. When I stay in my solitude, refusing to reach out, and wrestle with my own turmoil, then, sometimes, I let the lies win. But when I reach out, even to text a friend asking for prayer, then, truth speaks.
My dear brother Mike, a friend, and confidante, who responded when I said what my heart had been saying by saying to me: “Now, I’m just going to lay it out here: that’s just hooey, Brian. For the message of God to His son would never put you down, call you a failure, or say those things of you. So, when you do hear it when you see those billboards in your heart, would you do me a favor and take it as a clear sign that Hooey is talking? What this means is that the exact opposite to what you are hearing is true.” He had me. That was the truth.
Another brother, when I was sharing with him, had had a very similar week to my own. Whereas the station I often tune into broadcasts all about failure, his station speaks about what a burden he is to those around him. As we shared I found his empathy like a balm to my soul. He too was standing up against the lies.
When on the phone with Susanna, one of my daughters, sharing some of the journey, she said: “I just went to a conference this past weekend on the Psalms and it sounds like the lament of your heart you are describing is the same lament expressed many millennia ago by those writers. You are in good company, Dad. It is good to lament to God.”
While journaling the Lord reminded me about how during what looked like dead ends, he still worked. In the life of Joseph — two more years in prison without knowing the outcome, God said, “I still worked.” And in the life of David, during his 13-year flight from Saul, God spoke, “I used it.” And the clear message was that this too– this stuff now, He would use. This came…
Let me remind you: My ways are unlike yours. My thoughts are not yours. I have a way that’s glorious. Trust and walk in Me son. Rest in me. Believe Me, son, not your own thinking when I tell of your successes. Believe Me, son!
A friend, Kate, spoke in her vlog about walking a labyrinth. There, Denny Dyke and his many helpers, make a daily circular path in the sand, knowing the sea will eventually wash it away. And many visiting the beach in Bandon, OR come, walk it, and experience God in the middle of that brief journey.
This friend’s vlog spoke about how meaningful it can be to walk a labyrinth. I knew that was true. But what caught me was the language she used applying it to all of life:
Stay on the Path
Stay with your feet
The answers will come as you get quiet enough
I told Karen, my wife, “God is speaking in stereo.”
In every conversation, in books, in Scriptures, the message got repeated and repeated again. God reached into my heart with His bold word to awaken my heart to the truth.
Jesus loves to work through people. That’s what I’m praying can begin to occur for this new brother. That the Truth will get a hearing in his heart as it has through others in mine.
Do you find yourself “just plain lost?”
Turn or return to Jesus.
And perhaps even more so- connect with others who will speak the truth.
As you stay on your path, breathe, let go, and trust, the answers will come. ￼