Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Spark of Light in the Darkness

A personal testimony
It wasn’t the first time it had happened. I was prepared to go to work. Dressed, briefcase by my side, necktie neatly knotted, breakfast over, and it was time to leave.

I didn’t leave. In fact, other than breathing I didn’t move all day long. Not to get a drink of water, not to go to the bathroom, not to check mail – nothing. A black cloud was hanging over me. I was lost in the darkness and had given up all hope of finding my way out. It didn’t matter that the sun was shining outside or that the birds were singing, for me it was dark, completely and totally dark.

Dante wrote of finding himself in a dark forest.* I know that forest. It is not the forest of modern man, a place of beauty even in the dark with our flashlights and carbide lamps. No his forest and mine was a place of grave danger. At night the trees blocked all light from the moon and stars, so that the dark forest became a place where your life was at risk, especially if you dared to enter by yourself.

I had not planned on going there, but there I was in the middle of the darkness. In a forest not of my own making, I was lost and unable to figure a way out. In fact I had given up on trying to find a way out. Without meaning too, I was actually falling deeper and deeper into this dark forest.

It all started with a family crisis. Like many men, I was prepared mentally to deal with crisis. I was an engineer, a near expert at chess, a neophyte Christian, pretty fit at 5 feet 11 inches and 220 pounds. Respected on the job, happily married for close to 22 years.

I didn’t know darkness. I knew hard work and I knew success. I had become an engineer at age 41 and life was good, full of new challenges.

The family crisis changed all that. In 18 months my weight was approaching 300 pounds. I was working 50 to 70 hours a week just to fill the time. And I was failing in every attempt to solve or resolve our family crisis. For the most part my wonderful bride helped me through the worst days and I was able to help her through her worst days. At least until the darkness overwhelmed me.

Prayer didn’t help. Nothing helped. I gave up. The pain was almost unbearable. To go to work and act as if things were okay seemed virtually impossible. Somehow, I kept my job and remained employed.

Still, I was sinking further and further into a darkness that was like being in a dark frightening forest with no way out. I was becoming resigned to remaining there, considering never coming out. It was a dangerous time for me.

Finally God had me where he wanted me. I was helpless. I could not fix anything. I was entirely and completely lost. I was a broken man. I still prayed, but rarely. My last prayer was, “God, I can do nothing about this. I want you to fix this, but if you don’t you are still my God and I love you." There was no answer, none.

No answer until days later as once again I sat not moving. It was in the middle of the afternoon, the Holy Spirit spoke quietly to me, “You are too blessed to be depressed.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or argue. I decided to accept the message I had been given.

The next day, at work (!), someone asked me how I was doing – a concerned look on their face. My reply, “Okay I guess. After all, I am too blessed to be depressed.” He looked surprised and then he laughed and walked away chuckling. Before the day was over he had sent over two or three people to ask how I was doing. The answer remained the same, “Okay. After all, I am too blessed to be depressed.”

Being too blessed to be depressed was a bit of knowledge that lit a light that led me out of the pits of depression. God could have provided that light at any time, but he waited until I was completely and totally dependent upon Him to do so, until He had me where He wanted me.

Today, “I am too blessed to be depressed” sounds almost comical to me. Maybe it does to you as well. But then, in the darkness, it was a spark of light that led me out of a dark forest that without His help I could not and would not have found my way out. If I try, I can remember clearly the darkness and it can cause me to physically shudder.

This morning at church we sang a hymn “Breathe” and it also made me shudder, but with a choked up joy. You see two verses near the end tell my story. They go like this

And I, I'm desperate for you
And I, I'm lost without you

To simply read the lyrics above doesn’t do them justice because as the song makes it clear when you hear it, they are intended as a call for help**. Tears came unbidden to my eyes this morning because I remembered. I know there are others who see no way out who are in the darkness, but I want to give them a message.

God may have you just where He wants you where you can do nothing to fix your crisis, but give it to God to fix. Accept your brokenness, and completely and totally give it all to God.

God did, in His time, deal with our family crisis and brought healing, but that is another story for another time. My weight is down to 230 with more to go and I trust God with everything today.

*Many thanks to One Comos and his article Middle Age Crazy for the references to the dark forest, you may find this at

**Go to and type into the search “This is the air I breathe” and listen. They are all terrific, but I am partial to the one sung by Kathryn Scott.

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