I was sitting in the rear pew of an empty Church. I was not there because I believed or because I was saved; I was there because there was no place left for me to go. I was emotionally emptied and bankrupt. The term hope and faith seemed like a far-off glimmer of something I always wanted, but yet, whatever I wanted always seemed just inches beyond my reach.
The Church itself was quiet and the room was cold. Sunlight came through the stained glass windows and brightened my surroundings. There was nothing dark about the room. There was nothing dark at all—except for the hole inside my spirit.
Outside the sky was wintery blue. There were no clouds in the air or leaves on the trees—except for the evergreens. There was no warmth from the sky and the wind was the sort of cold that whistles loudly in the middle of winter.
Above the altar was a tall crucifix with Jesus. His arms spread wide, spiked to each end. His legs crossed, foot over foot, and pegged into the bottom station of the cross. His head was slumped downward at to the right, eyes closed, forehead bleeding from a crown of thorns that was pressed onto his head. A deep gash was poked beneath the Son of Man’s rib to prove the accomplishment of His death. Above him read a sign, “INRI” which were the initials of this: Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm. Or in English, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”
(“I” replaces “J” in Latin and “V” replaces “U”)
I cannot say I was found that day, nor can I say my soul was prepared to change. I can only describe the warmth I felt—even while in the coldest of times. To me, the idea of forgiveness was unthinkable. I was the retched. I was the sinner—I was undeserving and unworthy.
This is when I read from the Book of Romans, chapter 10
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
Saved . . .
This was a word all too beautiful. I sat in the rear pew, unable to look up for a long period of time, and uncomfortable with the conflict of who I was and where I found myself. I felt as if I was in the presence of truth. I felt as if I were faced with an emotional mirror that reflected the truth of who I was and what I had done. It was here that I realized I could run as fast as I wanted, for as long, and as far as I could try—but the truth would always follow me.
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
My only salvation, or so I believed, was my own selfishness. I thought rage was my only shield and hatred was my only weapon. I was too far gone. I was too lost to be found and too sunken to be forgiven.
“For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”
I was tired of feeling ashamed. My legs felt as though they ran for days or even years. My mind would not stop. I could not hold still. I could not shake the fear I had and I could not silence the anger.
“For there is no difference between men: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Saved . . .
I stood here at a crossroad. In the most painful time of my life. My outcomes were desperate and my future was uncertain; all that I knew was taken and all who I depended on were gone. I had nothing, I was emptied and tired. I was vacant and lost
Saved . . .
You cannot know what this word truly means until you have crawled inside the pit of desperation. Until you have fell beneath the bottomless pit of hopelessness—unless you have felt the breath of demons whispering at your neck, chilling you spine and raising your skin; unless you have been weakened into submission, you cannot understand how redeeming that word is
Saved . . .
I think of any time in my life when I whispered the words, “Please God, help me.”
This was the time when I mean it most.
I am praying for a friend of mine.
Not everyone holds onto the idea of sobriety.
But if you get the chance, hold on tight, kid.
My prayers are in your corner.