Exhale

I remember it vividly.  Laying on the living room floor, curled up in a ball with tears flowing uncontrollably from my eyes.  

My marriage was over.  My family had been torn apart by the viciousness of two people who had finally had enough of each other.  I’m still haunted by the looks on my children’s faces…their broken hearts on display every time I would drive away from our once happy home.

The only way I can think of describing the depression I felt in those days is that it was like taking in a deep breath and not being able to exhale.  Everything in you is desperately trying to release what’s inside of you, but it is impossible to let it out. It’s a heaviness that pushes you to the bottom and won’t let go.

I was fully aware in that moment that I had created my resting place.  

All of my selfish choices.  All of the lies and deceit. All of the broken promises.  They had all conspired to lead me down the path of emptiness that I felt. 

And the worst part is that I remember being resigned to the fact this was the bed I had made.  I had accepted my punishment and felt it was hopeless to try to fight it anymore.

Jonah experienced the same thing when he was thrown from the boat.  We see in that story that the ship sails away and the sea overtakes him.  All hope was lost as he began to sink to his watery grave, helpless to save himself from his fate.

Does anyone reading feel me right now?  

Have you ever felt like the entire weight of the world is crashing down on you?  Did you feel hopelessly lost in despair and depression, overcome with a pain that wouldn’t let you breathe?  Did you feel like me, that this was how the story ends?  

For Jonah, it was at that very moment that the craziest thing happened.  God appointed a fish to swallow him. His fate now sealed by the jaws of a gigantic sea creature.

I often imagine what that moment must have been like for Jonah.  Did he just give up and allow the fish to eat him with no fight? A moment of clarity and resignation, accepting this moment as ordained by the Judge himself.  

That was my living room floor for me.  Acceptance and mourning were the comforters of my soul as I cried tears of regret and guilt.  I had grown tired of gasping for air and felt I had no choice but to slip away into the pit of despair.

But Jonah and I have something in common….

The moment we gave up running and fighting, God revealed Himself in the most miraculous way.  We cried out and He heard us and answered.  

The first time I read Jonah chapter 2, the prayer he prayed from inside the fish, I was completely overwhelmed by the goodness and mercy of God.  I want to share that prayer with you…

“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

Inside the belly of that fish, Jonah recognized the incredible lengths that God had gone to rescue him.  Inside the belly of my “fish”, I realized that God was present with me in the mess. He had never left me but instead had been patiently waiting for me to cry out to Him….much like a child cries out for a parent when they are in distress.

My hope is that you will see that even when you have resigned yourself to your own fate or demise, God still has the power to show up and rescue you.  You cannot outrun the grace and forgiveness of God.

Even though the pit is dark and it can overwhelm our hearts and souls, when God shows up with us, we find out He has freed us to do what we have desperately been searching for our whole lives…..

Exhale.

Join me tomorrow as I finish sharing part of my story and how hope is in every one of our grasps.

Selah

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