He [Mark] had dozed off in the chapel praying for his family and to ask God … again … for forgiveness, something that he has never been able to accept from God. And again he found that neither medication, sleep, nor a religious setting was strong enough to quiet his soul and to remove the shame that kept him enslaved to his past sins.
“I guess it’s only right that God wouldn’t hear me, and I guess that it would only be right to let me die. I know that I deserve to, I just hope …”
Mark Terrell’s life is fictional, but his problems and spiritual condition are non-fictional for many people. In my novel, A Reason to Pray at Mountainview, Mark found himself in a hospital where he received two diagnoses: a life-threatening physical illness and a faith that was on life-support. Sometimes it takes a physical crisis to get a person to stop and examine his/her heart and life. In Mark’s case the immediate crisis put a spotlight on the condition of his relationship with his God and forced him to the proverbial end of his rope. With nowhere else to hide Mark turned to the God and Savior that he had once walked with and enjoyed, and hoped he was still loved.
The Father God whom Mark once trusted now seemed a thousand miles away. Why? What was the root of this broken fellowship? A few years earlier Mark had embraced sin and listened to the voice of pride encouraging self-righteousness, which in turn pushed him away from his God and Savior. Mark’s devotion to God was a thing of his past and he feared that it was gone forever. The fellowship with the One whom he needed most had dried up and become lifeless.
Mark went to the hospital chapel with a desperate hope that God would hear his cries for help. He was desperate and his prayers echoed those of the Psalmist from Psalm 119:176:
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Seek Your servant,
Have you ever felt like Mark, like you have strayed from the Father God, and wondered how you can return and have the fellowship between God and you restored?
Mark is not an isolated prisoner to the past. Is there any Christian who has not found themselves confronted with a past that tries to condemn and even break them? Perhaps you, or someone you know, have a past that is haunting you and deterring you from praying and enjoying a life with Jesus Christ. The effects of a broken spirit reach further into our lives than our prayer lives. Like poison that slowly moves through the blood stream, it eventually touches every part of who we are and how we live. Depending on the progress of the poison and the spiritual support around the individual, it may be difficult to stop the spiral slide and turn around. If our past is haunting us, we may find ourselves on a path similar to Mark Terrell—a path of despondence, even depression.
This post isn’t about “getting saved,” but to the Christian with a weak and beaten down spirit. Such a weak spirit struggles. It struggles in every aspect of your faith and living it before God and man. It drains the life out of prayer, and/or avoids prayer altogether. Pain from a weak and injured spirit from the past, sin from the past, whether the past is yesterday, a year-ago, or 15 years-ago, fellowship with the Lord is affected, negatively. Just as in Mark’s life, deliverance is in front of us every day, but it is often too difficult to see and believe when you’re beaten down. Can you relate to Mark’s condition? But …
- Can you believe that Jesus Christ, by what He accomplished at the cross, can break any stronghold and deliver from any pit?
- Can you believe that Jesus Christ conquered all powers of darkness and despair?
- Can you believe that there is no foe that can stand against the King, Jesus the King?
Your answers to the above bullet points are key towards sparking your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Deliverer. Can you believe? Can you trust in Him? I’m not saying perfect faith, or giant faith, or even steadfast, unmovable faith. The Lord knows that none of us are spiritual giants with perfect unwavering faith. It starts with a simple trust and faith.
Restoration. Jesus HAS BEEN and STILL IS in the work of restoration and reconciliation of broken and messy lives, because that is all there are in this world. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is what we need–yesterday, today, and forever! Amen.