Almost a Whisper

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Laying on a couch, staring at the ceiling, I took a deep breath

and dialed her number. I had been laying there for what seemed like years, but was only a few weeks. I was calling a friend–one of the few I had at the time. We had been born on the same day on opposite sides of the world, and as chance would have it, years later we met. We were such opposites, yet we shared an inexplicable bond. Now, smothered in hopeless depression, I called the only person I thought could help. I tried to act like nothing was wrong, but she saw through it, so I told her the truth. I was going to kill myself.

My life has always had a soundtrack. Music has been so deeply etched into my soul, that when all else fails in my memory, I know what music was playing. I don’t remember what she said next. I don’t remember what I said next, but then it started playing. “Almost a Whisper” by Yanni.

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The sound of holding on, almost a whisper.
The sigh of broken hearts, a quiet cry.
The rain upon your face brings gravity and grace,
…and softly you begin to breath again.
-Yanni-

 

I can hear her voice shaking as she tried to convince me that life was still worth living. I didn’t want to listen. I was sick of suffering. I was finished with the feelings of uselessness and worthlessness. I had the perfect way out. I was on prescription pain killers. It would be a simple matter to overdose, I just needed to know how much was required to end my life. Looking back, I suppose I could have easily found the answer online, but I called her. She worked at a pharmacy, so she would certainly know everything about the dosage. Perhaps somewhere in my heart, I was dying for someone to know how much I was suffering, and I gave her the chance to be the only one who knew. She was the only one who could talk me out of it, because she was the only one who knew I was in it. I did want to die, desperately, but what was more important at that moment than living and dying was to somehow let someone know where I was and what I was going through. She was my last chance, and God used her to save my life.

Jacques Callot - The Agony in the Garden

Years later, as I was scoring a soundtrack to an abridged audiobook on the death of Christ, a passage firmly grabbed hold of my attention. “The human heart longs for sympathy in suffering. This longing Christ felt to the very depths of His being. In the supreme agony of His soul He came to His disciples with a yearning desire to hear some words of comfort from those whom He had so often blessed and comforted, and shielded in sorrow and distress. The One who had always had words of sympathy for them was now suffering superhuman agony, and He longed to know that they were praying for Him and for themselves. How dark seemed the malignity of sin! Terrible was the temptation to let the human race bear the consequences of its own guilt, while He stood innocent before God. If He could only know that His disciples understood and appreciated this, He would be strengthened.” – The Desire of Ages p. 687

Now, after even more years have come and gone, I’m beginning to recognize the gravity of this human experience, this need of sympathy in the midst of suffering, not even just in emotional terms but also in intellectual terms–a need for someone to understand what you are going through.

So here I am again, attempting to be vulnerable and transparent. I am still not comfortable or free to share everything that has been torturing my soul for months, but I’ll share what I can share. I still remember being there on the couch, ready to die, hearing the chorus from “Almost a Whisper.” The female vocalist sings, “Please don’t give up. Please don’t you give up, ’cause I believe, yes, I believe. I still believe in us.” I still remember that feeling, of being utterly alone. I still feel that way more often than you would believe.

Somehow people think that if you’re not complaining about suffering, you must not be suffering. Nothing could be farther from truth. I do suffer. Following God has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in life. I’m in the middle of a constant war, within and without. I find such little rest, so few moments when I can just sit in silence and embrace the arms of peace that protect me. Am I still smiling? Usually. I smile because that is the most productive thing I can do, and if I stop doing that, I just might give up.

stockvault-paraglider-in-sky138851Time and time again, I try to escape the call of ministry God has put on my life. It’s a most vexing thing to be a highly educated individual, capable of making a favorable salary, and to be constantly reminded by a deity that I have greater obligations to heaven than I have to myself. So many times this year, I’ve thrown my hands up and screamed at God, “Why are you doing this to me? I can make everything flow for our finances and our ministry’s needs if you’ll just let me work!” And in desperation, I start applying for positions. I even get calls back. I have people interested. And in those moments, at the exact times I’m sending out resumes, the demands of ministry increase. I’ll be waiting for the prearranged second call with an organization, and while I’m sitting there, a call comes for me to preach, and the organization I was arranging to work for never contacts me again. It’s happened too many times for me to think it mere coincidence. Time and time again, I say, “I can’t do this,” because it doesn’t make sense to me to be flying by the seat of my pants, waiting for miracles every month to cover the minimum payments of our expenses, when I’m capable of making enough money to pay for everything in less than 6 months.

Every time the answer to my prayers is impressed upon me. “Your work is to preach and teach. Leave the bills to me.” And every time, that commitment I made to God over 2 years ago comes back to mind. I did sign up for this. I did pledge to go to the ends of the earth, wherever He sent me, preaching and teaching, not knowing how I would eat or where I would sleep or how bills would be paid, if that was for His glory. I did. I am certain, beyond any shadow of doubt, I am where He intends me to be.

My salvation has not come. Not yet.

I cry out, “How long, oh Lord, how long?” I don’t know how long.

But I’m holding on. Somehow, some way, He will provide. The math tells me I’m sunk for good. The economics tell me that there is no coming up. The logic tells me to abandon God’s work, and get some money and pay the bills once and for all. I’ve tried that. He keeps closing that door. So I’m holding on.

The sound of holding on? It’s almost a whisper. The sigh of my breaking heart, a quiet cry. In this storm, the rain falls on my face. I see the gravity that holds me down, and the grace that promises to raise me up. And softly, I begin to breathe again.

*exhale*

 

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