But on the other side of this ocean of regret, is an oasis of gratitude. We are born with two lungs, and if I inhale from the lung of regret, then I exhale from the lung of gratitude. Because after all of the self-destruction and humiliation, I am still here. It is indeed a miracle! I was traveling northbound on US 31 near Lake Michigan when I mistakenly took my eyes off the highway. The construction ahead had slowed the traffic to a standstill, and I had no time to stop!
I tried to swerve from hitting the last car stopped ahead of me, but clipped the corner of his bumper. My sedan shot fifteen feet into the air, rotating endoverendoverendoverend several times, landing upside down in the opposite direction of travel across the median! I was not wearing a safety belt, and my entire vehicle was shattered into a thousand pieces.
One witness heard the sound of the crash and saw my vehicle flying through the air, inducing immediate vomit all of the interior of her own vehicle. Such was the disturbance in the atmosphere.
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I remember bracing at the time of the collision, curling into the fetal position and waiting for death. I closed my eyes and braced for the darkness. But with each roll and spin and flip, I remained conscious. When I had come to a final stop upside down , I crawled out of the passenger window and walked away without a scratch. I was barefoot because somehow my shoes went flying with the rest of the car. I just kept shaking my head thinking, "I can't believe I'm alive. I can't. I'm alive. I am grateful. I am thankful that despite the crash and burn and fire and smoke and vomit and wonder - there is a Table spread before me in the presence of my enemies.
I am thankful that despite my unworthiness, there is the love of a woman, the faith of a mother, and the laughter of three daughters who seal me in this promise of redemption. I am thankful for a place to belong, a promise to believe, and a purpose to become. I am thankful for the invitation of the Mercy King to a Table of broken bread and wine in abundance. Several months ago I began meeting with men who are in recovery from addiction s. At a local city Rescue Mission , we gather in a circle and talk about hope and faith and brokenness.
My own experience with rock bottom has given me a greater platform of authority than my degrees. I have been there. I know what it's like to curl up in the backseat of a car and pray for death. I have acquired a taste for self-hatred, and I know the bittersweet warmth of destruction. But I've also seen the sunrise from an abandoned truck stop in South Carolina. I have watched the tide roll in and out and in again from a thousand beaches and I know that a mild sunburn is good for the soul.
I know that gratitude begins where entitlement ends. I have forgiven and sought forgiveness. I am still learning to forgive myself. I am one beggar telling another beggar where I've found bread. It is in a circle of hope at Guiding Light Mission, where we gather around our stories and reach for resurrection and life. We pray for each other, and laugh and cry and surrender and repeat.
Recycling repentance like a squeaky bicycle chain needing the oil of mercy. I met "Steven" on a cold, Sunday night in February. He was one of three men who openly shared stories of accumulation and loss. He opened up about addiction and recovery and relapse and spiritual bankruptcy. He had a wealth of information from years of experience.
Steven was faithful to attend our meetings, and brought his amplified bible with cross references. He showed signs of fruitfulness and hope. We became good friends. I used to give Steve a ride to work after our meetings. He would be dressed up in his work uniform, carrying a sack lunch for his midnight shift. We exchanged encouraging texts throughout the week, and I found solidarity in his admitted propensity to wander Steven shared with me of his dream of opening a non-profit organization that could serve as a safe place for people to overcome their addictions.
His own history with drugs had given him a heart for others who were hellbent on self-destruction.
I gave him money and time and encouragement. He gave me friendship, and gratitude. And then, without warning, Steven disappeared. He stopped coming to meetings and did not return my phone calls. I asked the leaders of the mission if they had seen him, and they were equally concerned. Steven had refused a drug test, and packed his bags He left the shelter and returned to the streets. When I heard the news, I stayed awake all night tossing and turning. I prayed aggressively believing that intercession would be the intersection between failing faith and saving grace.
The Awakening Land by James M. Vesley - Read Online
I looked for Steven on every corner - in the eyes of strangers and cops and robbers and shopkeepers. I searched for him on social media, leaving messages for him at every turn. Why do I care so much about Steven? There are a thousand other distractions that I could exhaust my energy with. Should I just leave the light on and hope he returns like a prodigal to the front porch?
The Awakening Land - A Novel of the Rio Grande Valley (Paperback)
Or should I leave the 99 and go hunt down the 1 missing? Here's why. Because I've been in Steven's shoes. All Items.
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The Awakening Land: A Novel of the Rio Grande Valley
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