Sometimes we do not know the answers.
I remember the feel of the underbrush as it scratched my arms and legs. The ground was rough and rocks were pressed into my thighs as I sat in the darkness. Bentley was panting next to me... we had just ran nearly a mile before I collapsed into the edge of the woods. The night seemed to bear down on my lungs and the tears running down my face burned like acid. I was bitter and there was no hope.
How can our choices take us to such dismal places? My life was not what it needed to be, and I saw no way that I could ever get back on track... much less become the man I once dreamed I could be? I was not the father my children needed, and my wife longed for me to stand up and be a man. I was running from my life and I was hiding from God. And still, I felt His eyes on me in that moment. I just felt so hopeless... so frustrated... so directionless.
But if a man walk in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him.
It was nearly midnight on that night, years ago... and I just sat down and wept. I was bankrupted. I prayed to God that He just take my life... it wasn't mine to take on my own, but if God chose to just take me, well... that seemed better. I couldn't see how I could ever get back to the belief that I could do something for Him.
I sat there in the dirt for nearly an hour... wrestling and praying with God. I watched headlights pass by and I listened to the sounds of the night. Stiff and sore, I finally stood up and held tightly to the leash as Bentley walked me home. God didn't answer my prayer.
But... sometimes we do not know the answers. God heard my prayer... and God answered it in a way I did not understand. "Please just take my life." Yes... He did.
Looking back I realize that those steps home were the first steps of obedience as I found my way back to God. It wasn't apparent to me at the time, but he was changing my heart. He placed people and experiences in my path that changed how I saw the world... how I believed God saw me, and I was broken to be slowly reformed.
I picture myself on that night as a man with the dust of the desert caked over his body... his clothes stiff and torn, and his lips split with thirst. When the first drops of rain displaced the earth on my head I didn't recognize the oncoming flood.
How could my heart not be changed as I began considering the adoption of Aleksandra, watching my son begin to grow into a young man, feeling the power of the lives that touched my own in Guatemala, and finally the adoption of Sterling. God begin to move big in my life in every direction I turned. The more quickly I followed him, the more my perspective shifted.
Watching my kids this past week in Guatemala, and holding my baby as I walked those streets... I knew that I had changed. I looked down at the dust covering my boots and I knew that this dust was from walking towards God, rather than sitting in despair.
Have you ever searched for a reason to live? To endure the pain... or even just the monotony of life? It isn't money, or a career, or chasing selfish gain. It isn't even giving to the poor or moving to Guatemala. It is more simple than that. It is about pursuit.
My reason to live... is so that I can follow the footsteps of Jesus.
It comes down to realizing how you look in the eyes of God, and then capturing that vision as you look at others. The best way I can explain this to you... is to ask you to hold a small child that has no hope. Feel the rise and fall of her chest. Let your heart break as you feel her grasp your thumb with her whole hand. Look into her eyes and feel her fear. Recognize yourself in her gaze.
Accept her love as a gift. Let your pain be overwhelmed by the strength of her grasp. And then give of yourself. Give any way you can... just give. This is how you will feel the air again alive in your lungs and you will know the power of the beat of your heart. Find your faith in this moment... this simple exchange.
Just ask God to take your life.
I was willing to lose my life that night... and now every day I have is a beautiful gift. God took my life and He made it new. Each day I have is now His. He is showing me how to live. I am learning the wonder of a life lived by belief.
My life has been saved by God. The remainder of my days belong to Him.