Christian radio nearly put me over the edge, however. Driving down to Ocean Beach at midnight, full of despair, and wanting to hear a voice of reason that would give me one single piece of evidence that the world would not be better off without me. Because apparently by the mess I had made of things, it would be. And I was tired, so tired of trying and failing, and I listlessly turned on the radio for reassurance, and quickly turned off the program, a garish and chirpy ‘breaking news’ retelling of the events in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. Oh dear. Sometimes Christian culture can be so tone deaf.
When fatigue is great and resistance to lies is low, and especially during the holidays’ midnight hours, the church can do better than this. Tullian Tchividjian does it right, in his post “Christmas For The Weary And Heavy Laden.” I am a battle hardened veteran of the Christmas wars upon the soul, and so I have learned through many of these skirmishes the duty which calls me back from the brink –my responsibility for the children who remain in my home, and my allegiance to my Lord. God arrested in midflight his AWOL soldier, offered amnesty, and we went back to the front lines, together. As Tullian writes,
Christmas is the beachhead of God’s campaign against sin and sadness. It is the coming of light, life, and love into the occupied territory of darkness, death, and hate. Christmas is a war fought by a Peaceful Prince whose battle plan is to defeat death by dying, fear by forgiveness and slavery by salvation.
And that is why I did not kill myself at midnight on Christmas Day this year, as I sat on the sand at Ocean Beach at midnight, as I stared at that “great wink of eternity”, as I listened to those “silver snowy sentences”, those waves alluring me the way they had Hart Crane eighty years ago in Caribbean Sea, when the poet looked too long at the Southern Cross and “slid on that backward vision, (his) mind was churned to spittle,whispering hell.” So that tormented soul pitched himself forward from that ship into what he thought was oblivion.
I looked to another Cross with an upward vision, and my mind cleared of this churning. This Cross called me to die to my need for respect. It told me to die to laying down the law. It told me I am not my own, that I have been bought with a price. The One who gave his life upon it speaks in a still small voice, not an evil whisper. My Lord says, “Come”, so I come, I am so weary and carry heavy burdens, and he says, “I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your soul.” He is no liar, and I find that rest. I turn away from those dangerous midnight riptides, and drive back home.
Because he has rescued me from death, and has so transformed my life, when my Lord says “Go”, then I go where he sends me. I go to tell the world of this glorious being, Jesus, who came down to Earth from heaven two thousand years ago, a little baby who came to die a terrible death for these kinds of terrible days I have been enduring. He rose up from the dead, and now lives in me, and so I know the plans he has for my life are for good and not for evil. The plans he has for you, oh weary reader, are very good too! He will help you put your life back in order, if you trust him. And tell someone you trust about your struggles, someone who will not, because of fear, immediately place a psychiatric hold on you.
I needed to set my life back in order. I asked forgiveness of those I frightened when I drove off, then slept off some exhaustion. And, dear Reader, sleep therapy is proving to be the most promising treatment for depression. In the morning I rose early and was given a necessary and encouraging rebuke in the “Daily Light on the Daily Path.” I reprinted the evening’s reading, and then the morning, in the hopes it will encourage you as well.
He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him.
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”—“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”—He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.—“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen
Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
Knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.—As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.—“But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”—“As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”
For you stand firm in your faith.
“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.”
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Another way I fight fear and forgive, is to put Josh Garrells on continuous play during this trying season — especially this song: