We’ve been through a lot together, you and I. You were always there, no matter how horrible things got. I remember as a young child, making mud-pies in the back yard, and feeling your unmistakable presence. I promised you then, that whenever I talked to myself, I was actually talking to you. My childhood became a prayer, and with a dad who was a child abuser, prayer became the breath of my life.
I knew my biological father didn’t love me. I knew he was abusive. I didn’t fully understand how bad things were at that point – I was only a child, ignorant of the words or the legal terms – but I knew something was terribly wrong. I asked you to be my daddy instead. I asked you to fill the unfilled role, the empty hole, left in my heart by my father. I asked you to empower me to see evil. And you did.
Prayer became the breath of my life.
Have you read that poem called Footprints? It talks about how, in a dream, the author was walking along a beach with you. During most seasons, there were two sets of footprints in the sand. One set was the poets, the other was yours. However, during hard times, there was only a single set of footprints to be seen. During those times, you carried them.
A lot of people seem to like this poem, but it doesn’t express how I have experienced you. Your presence is not merely beside me. You do not carry me only through the hard times.
If you were an ocean, I would be suspended in the heart of your sea. If I were a star, you would be the eternal fire that sets me alight, yet never consumes me, like the bush that Moses saw. You are all around me. You go before me and stand behind me. You are beneath me, a foundation, and above me, a shelter through the storm. You are within me yet outside of me, and all around me and beyond me.
If I could spread my wings like the dawn and ascend into the highest heavens, you would be there, shining down on me. If I became as loathsome as a serpent, and delved into the deepest recesses of the earth, even there you would never abandon me. You would draw me from the miry darkness, clasp me to your bosom, and make me beautiful again.
As the giver of faith, you maintain my faith, and reignite my faith when the flame grows dim. Though I am unfaithful, you are faithful. Though I am fallen, you remain perfect.
I asked you to fill the unfilled role,
the empty hole,
left in my heart by my father.
And suddenly I realized that through it all you had a purpose. Amid the emotional starvation of my parents’ apathy, you sustained me with a banquet of your fierce mercy and self-denying love. You used the cords of hate to weave a beautiful design. You allowed me to experience pain, and you walked with me through the darkest depths of despondency. You allowed me to feel the sting of betrayal, as you faithfully stood by me and never wavered in your devotion. You allowed me to witness great evil, while contrasting it with your goodness, and empowering me to see the difference.
You blessed me with bitter experiences, and in doing so, enabled me to help others. You granted me the cursed blessing of depression, because without it, I would never have been able to walk friends and strangers through thoughts of suicide.
You walked with me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, because – had we not gone there together – I could never have comprehended the pain of your children. You let me feel despair, and provided me with the antidote; a compound of your own pain, passion, joy, and sorrow.
You used my weakness to grant me strength. You used my victimization to train up a warrior. You used my fear to make me fearless. You used the folly of the fallen to raise me up out of death into wisdom.
What they intended for evil, you have orchestrated for good.
Thank you, God.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.