Darkness Better Run And Hide

I’m not sure that I could pinpoint the exact moment when I became more aware of the world spiritually but I’m aware now. As I write this, I feel like the crazed lunatic that I used to judge thinking, “They must be some sort of weird charismatic Christian for believing in spiritual warfare, and that they’re ‘under attack’.” But as someone who’s been going through a sort of spiritual renaissance for the last couple years – with a sober mind and heart, I can tell you that there are forces at work beyond what the eye can see.

Allie and I watched a documentary last night on Hulu about the Menendez Brothers. It was a horrific account of their trial for murdering their own parents and the defense was set up around the fact that one of the sons had been sexually abused by the father. On Facebook earlier, I came across post after post filled with hate and despair in relation to homosexuality, gun-control, and the immorality of others and the dark pain it’s left behind.

As I watched, read, and took in these stories and accounts from others it was almost as if I was being smothered – my chest felt heavier, the world seemed grey (even though yesterday was relatively beautiful), and hope seemed light-years away. A pen could drop and we’d hear it, the faint sighs of our shallow, defeated breaths filling the living room. It was then I realized that we had to pray.

We turned to God and asked Him to be protect us from this darkness, to send his angels to watch over us, to heal our hearts in the areas that they’ve been broken, and to help us to live lives filled with joy and victory – that our season of feeling stretched, exhausted, and smothered would be taken from us. Then we had conversations with some other friends and heard about the heaviness in their lives and the demons were back, ready to whisper lies in our ears that it was only a matter of time before our hearts and souls would be crushed by darkness too.

My wife shared with me this morning that she couldn’t sleep very well last night. Kept awake 1-3AM with the spirit of fear and darkness bearing down on her. And in a text-message she just shared with me, “I kept praying and singing worship songs in my head last night while I was awake to try and combat it.” After insisting she wake me up in the future so I can sing, pray, and cry with her, I told her that’s probably one of the most attractive things she’s ever told me about herself. She’s a fiercely beautiful woman with such a strong heart, refusing to give in to darkness no matter what comes our way.

She’s supportive of my writing and gets excited when I share my heart with the world; she prays for me when I ask her to and even when I don’t; she does the silly things I ask her to do like make homemade granola and she doesn’t complain about it. When I met Allie in October, 2015 I was lost to the ways of this world – womanizing, drinking too much, and had given up on Jesus if we’re being honest. I tell her often that she’s always been Jesus in the flesh for me. She’s called me back home. My heart has been softened to His love again and she’d attest to the heart and life change that has occurred since. Now, when I encourage, pray for, and write letters/blogs I am a different man, one that is heavily influenced by the Lord.

As I study Psalms and see David’s heart – open, honest, vulnerable, outspoken, fearful and fearless in the same breath (Week 2 of our study will be published tomorrow or Wednesday, FYI) I cannot help but see myself. David had some appalling weaknesses and a volatile spirit and yet he writes 150 chapters of the Bible with his own pen and is credited as the man after God’s heart.

Genuinely pursuing a relationship with God was never promised to be easy, but it’s the most powerful relationship in the universe. Marriage was never meant to be easy, but it’s the most rewarding relationship you’ll ever have – and it’s designed as a mirror image of what our Father in Heaven’s love is like for us. People are broken and come from hurtful backgrounds – they have hurts, hangups, and habits that were designed to be healed in a loving community but that’s made difficult when society thrashes back with hate, judgement, and vengeance. And start genuinely pursuing God and you better believe a legion of demons will be heading your way. Satan hates when someone else is revived by the Light. We must call on the Lord and FIGHT BACK. We cannot simply shrink back into the corner of the room and allow darkness to consume us. We must sing, cry, dance, shout, and declare victory over darkness. It has no place here! Satan has no authority over me or you or anyone else – unless we give it to Him.

The words we speak over ourselves are powerful. The Lord brought the world into existence with his words and He’s created us in His image. More often than not, we prophecy our own demise. “I’m fat” and so we stay fat. “I’m broke” and so we stay broke. “I have an addictive personality” and so we stay addicted. What if we broke that cycle and said, “I’m a fighter” and so we fought. “I’m handsome” and so we embraced our positive physical attributes and worked on our weaknesses. “I’m rich” and so we spent more time thinking about what we have, rather than what we don’t – and no longer consumed by a spirit of lack, ended up with more than we could have asked for or imagined.

Stop allowing Satan to use your own words against you. Make amends. Apologize, forgive, and move forward. We can consume our minds with our history or we can became an active part of His Story.

I am redeemed, recovered, renewed. I am bold, confident, awakened. I am alive, well, and strong. I am honest, integral, and through with running from God.

I am a man after God’s heart. A man in pursuit of his wife alone. I called to ministry and to writing – to encouraging without relent.

Satan hates me and will continue to send his deceptive, horrific, dark, deadly lies my way and I will fight him. And in Jesus, I will win.

“I have good news,” I told Allie, “I’ve read the Bible and Light wins. Darkness better run and hide.”

run and hide

The Darkness Took Over (And Something About Gold)

At some point, the darkness took over. It convinced me I was worthless, incapable, and not strong enough to go on. Satan’s whispers that my past wrongdoings were in fact my true identity and that the righteous man I’d masqueraded to be was simply a false identity. I’d been found wanted and I’d never amount to anything ever again.

I wish I could say that I told the devil that he was wrong and quickly reclaimed my true identity in Christ, trusting and leaning into the light. But I didn’t. I stayed there in that dark place, allowing myself to remain imprisoned by the past. The darkness took over.

The Bible talks about how if we give in to sin long enough, God will hand us over to it and I believe the last decade of my life was a sort of testament to that. I tried to outrun and out-think the Lord, as if that were possible. I convinced myself that lies were the truth and that the truth was a lie and I believed whatever tickled my ears and my ego.

Something interesting happens when you get married. You may have been able to lie to yourself all those years, but now you’ve got the accountability of another that is relying on you as much as you’re relying on them, and eventually they end up knowing you better than you know yourself. With Allie’s loving, loyal, strong, constant companionship by my side, I began to have to face my emotional weaknesses and my past.

I discovered that I couldn’t keep secrets from her and I couldn’t pretend I only spent $30 that week if I truly spent $50 and went over the spending budget. I learned that a half-truth isn’t the truth and it’s always best to be open, honest, and sincere regarding everything, even if it’s “not a big deal.” With our lives intertwined and every decision we both individually make affecting both of us, there’s a lot more at stake and our individual “liberties” cannot be taken lightly. Self-discipline becomes all the more important when your lack of self-control in any area of life no longer affects just you, it begins to affect another person as well.

In roughly 5 weeks, Allie and I will have been married for a year. We will get to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. February 4th will be an amazing day to look back and remember all of the growth that we’ve experienced together. I am so proud of the woman she is today compared to the woman she was when I married her – not that she wasn’t already impressive then, just that I’ve seen her endure and remain steadfast through a whole year of highs and lows.

One of our favorite artists has a line that goes something like this, “It’s not about the mountain-tops, it’s about the walking in-between.” Ben Rector is right, it’s about walking through the valleys of life, together, that matters the most.

So yes, I let the darkness take over. And yes, I’ve been in a sad, depressed season – but in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a valley. The sun will shine again. Spring will come. We will experience new highs and new lows in 2018. But most important of all, we will always be together. And the past for either of us, the darkness from our sin past and present and future, does not define us. It’s simply a part of the growing process.

In “Love Lives Here” written by Maria Goff, she talks about life being similar to a gold mine. We often hope to find gold laying around on the surface, easy to pick up and cash in on. But often, it’s found deeper in the mine, under lots of ugly rocks and dirt. It takes a lot of heavy lifting and a lot of time, but eventually we can all find the right within our hearts. And we’re wasting our time if we’re trying to dig up someone else’s gold because that’s not ours to have (gossip/envy). It’s when we’ve put in the hard work to discover the gifts within the cave of our hearts that we may come across treasures that could be passed on for generations. No longer do we have to be cursed by generational sins and struggles, but we can pass on the gifts of freedom, unconditional love, and refreshing joy.

So as we enter 2018 with our figurative and literal picks and shovels, may the Lord bless our digging, and may we all find some gold in the darkness.

gold

The D-Word: Doubt

Lacking inspiration for whatever reason this morning, I posted on some social-media outlets asking for a topic to write about. The first topic given to me was “Doubt.” So here we go, friends. I’m going to talk with you about The D-Word: Doubt.

Doubt is a Christian cuss-word. Let’s face it. And because it’s a “cuss-word” we do everything we have to do to distance ourselves form its reality. I’m not really doubting, I’m “discovering myself.”  I’m not isolated, I just “need some room to breathe.” You get the idea. It’s easier to “take a break” from community than it is to press in and power through the numbness of mixed emotions.

I’ve seen doubt rear its head in my life numerous times. It doesn’t always have to do with faith, although thats where it originates. When we doubt God, we doubt His promises and there is therefore now no nope. Praise Jesus that’s a lie.

I can doubt that I have the ability to overcome – to overcome health and fitness issues, to overcome dependencies, to overcome the character-flaws of being selfish as the oldest of 5 that’s always found a way to get what he wants.

I can doubt that other’s love me. I can doubt that they have my best interest in mind. Once I begin to doubt like this, I begin to doubt my lovability. What if I’m not likable enough? What if they see me, exposed, for what I am, and I’m not enough? What if I don’t measure up?

And then, I’ll begin to doubt myself. I’m not really as strong as some have told me I am. I’m not really creative and confident and outgoing. I could never find a way to legitimately better myself. I’m stuck. Incapable. Lacking. (All lies. I’m taking you inside my mind – trying to relate- flush out the toxins of doubt and present them to you for what they are. They’re poisons straight from the underworld, designed to stop us in our trucks – to make us ineffective witnesses – to bring Black Death to our souls.)

Where The D-Word starts to take place is in our hearts. At some point, someone wounded us. They saw us for what we were and decided that we were not enough. A parent decided that we disappointed them. A friend chose to seek their flesh’s desire and put a woman before us. A woman decided we weren’t wild enough at heart. And we forgot that Jesus died on the Cross for us, because He wanted to save us. Coming not to condemn the world, but to save it. We forgot that He found us worthy and lovely, DESPITE. Despite our ugly sinfulness and predisposition to chase desire without considering consequence.

The reality is we’ve all struggled with doubt and we’re all going to. You are not alone, dear friend. You are not unworthy. You are strong, valiant, a fighter – you are still alive. There is still hope. You can still persevere. If you are not engaged, you can re-engage. If you are not winning, you can. Just means you’ll have to train.

But it’s not about training harder or being better. It’s about trusting. It’s about being. It’s about recognizing who you are – what you lack and what you have – taking a deep breath, going to God and saying, “Without you, I have nothing. Please fill in my gaps. Please give me the strength to overcome today. Please teach me to love her. Show me how to put the collective before the individual. Rid me of darkness and fill me with Light. Teach me to trust you tonight.”

Right There With You,

Justin Meyer

doubt

Darkness

Hidden behind the veil of humor,

Lies the man in life’s stupor.

Couldn’t take a picture,

Without an elixir – I mean, filter.

Paranoid with perception,

Obsessed with perfection.

Always running from feeling;

Because if you sit in it too long, the world would be reeling.

In laughter,

Like the mad hatter,

It is only a matter,

Of opinion’s touchy bladder.

When dreams fall and shatter,

Or more likely, clatter,

To the ground,

When anxiety leaps and bounds.

People can’t see the darkness,

It’s heartless.

But it’s time to admit the journey,

You’re nowhere near a gurney.

Yet is not doubt something to pout about?

In a round-a-bout way,

Debate the theology of the day.

And politics. Liberty or socialism; even the pastors need justice.

Interesting the way we act.

With tact.

Filter this and delete that.

Do you even recognize the man in the mirror?

With his angry sneer.

It’s as if he forgot where he came from.

And that the church has named him.

Retreated to slavery because it was familiar,

Freedom’s taste was forgotten and hope had grown rotten.

But he won’t leave your dreams at night;

Won’t leave without a fight.

So as we sit tonight,

May we see the light.

Dreams tell me it’s quite the sight,

And that your journey is quite alright.

Heaven’s Dark Knight

Locked up in the facade,
That this is me and all there is,
No need to dream abroad,
Stifled beliefs, look over the terrace.

But the mirror of lies whispered,
I shivered.
No hope for me here,
She quivered.

This raw intensity,
Built up a fence in me.

Locked up the gate,
Stormed the city,
But there’s too much hate;
Lost city.

I had a dream once,
I was a dreamer.

Inspired revolutions,
I was a leader.

Perhaps the dreamer will awaken,
But alas, resolve’s shaken,
Heart forsaken,
Am I mistaken?

But it can’t be,
No it shan’t.

T’was empowered and freed,
He redeemed my envy,
Destroyed my greed.

Alas, hear me O Father of Lights,
Comfort this heart once again,
Brighter days, shorter nights,
Rise up the heart of Heaven’s Dark Knight.

IMG_0896.JPG

The Heights & Depths

I’ve fallen in love with raw humanity. The heights and the depths – I want it all. It’s not all about the mountain-tops, but sometimes about “the walking in between” as Ben Rector sings about in his recent album. I think that, in order to know and to love someone, you must understand that you will have to know them at their very worst, just as you may see a glimpse into their very best – their pain will be yours, just as much as their joy. And I think there is beauty to that.

Let’s think about it for a moment. No one is always happy, polished, and attractive. Yet, we nearly obsessively (or perhaps I’m speaking for myself, but hear me out) ensure that we remain polished around others. “How are you doing?” is followed by “Great! How are you?” even on a day when you may truly be breaking inside. So instead of facing the scars, we apply another coat of makeup. Sarcasm and supposed witty humor become our defense-mechanisms – we don’t want people to see what’s really inside, so we’re funny, not real.

I think it’s time to face the pain (yours and my own, together).

Every writer has his own beliefs and views, but as I’ve read memoirs (particularly Sheldon Vanauken’s “A Severe Mercy” and Brennan Manning’s “All Is Grace”) I’ve discovered one common theme among some of the greats – they are unashamedly transparent, raw, and honest about their brokenness. They believe what Paul said when preaching that they must become lesser, so that Christ can be made greater within them. Therefore, they lay pride aside, and lay bare their vices and broken relationships – that their readers may see that DESPITE their inability to be perfect, God still made them new, again and again, and used them for His glory.

During an episode of Scandal, one of the characters is facing a scandal (shocker) of their own. In the end, they become relieved that their “dirt” has surfaced. Once it has been brought into the light, it can be dealt with and “handled”. Despite the show’s occasionally risque nature, this is a potently biblical concept. Darkness loses its’ power when brought into the Light. When you flip the light-switch on in a dark-closet, the unknown becomes known, and our true colors show forth. Even more shockingly, with our polished facade now tarnished, we become more easy to relate to, less prideful/arrogant, and more likely to recognize humanity’s collective need for the gospel of grace.

A need within the church is the real life-on-life, connectivity, that goes much deeper than the surface. I can dress well and talk church-talk with the best of them. However, some days, underneath the sharp mind and quick witted extroversion, lies a boyish nature, wild imagination, and glaring insecurities that can drive me into isolation. There are days when I cannot stand to look in the mirror, so my head hangs low, ashamed of what it sees. Certain days, I attempt to convince myself that big-picture dreams are out-of-reach, because I do not measure up. Other days, I avoid social gatherings, simply because of my weight, or the fact that I sweat easily compared to others. One could easily chalk this up to spiritual-warfare and suggest that I pray and focus on God more. While those are all good things, I do not think it is always a matter of doing more. I think it may simply be a matter of bringing to light areas of struggle and allowing those “scandals” (areas lacking Christ-like nature and belief in God’s grace/power to overcome) to be “handled” (wrestled through) with the Church and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

It is difficult to shift one’s mindset from maintaining a polished appearance to being transparent and vulnerable with those around them. For me to admit that I am weak some days (or most days – depends on the season) and need others to lift me up, means that I am admitting to my inability to be self-sufficient, a great American travesty. But the ideology of pulling oneself up by their bootstraps is slowly dying, as more and more so, we realize our distinct need for community – brothers and sisters in arms, to make war against that which attempts to steal, kill, and destroy any element of what is good within us.

Reading Sheldon Vanauken’s memoir, “A Severe Mercy”, I’ve discovered that he had a deep friendship with CS Lewis. As he writes of their conversations and meetings and shares some of the letters and other correspondence, you begin to see the Christ-like character that both of these men possess. Sheldon describes CS Lewis as a man that would get right to the point, always leading Sheldon to the real issues at hand – the heart. 

Our weaknesses and insecurities may present themselves in physical embodiment through aesthetic flaws, substance-abuse, indulgent vices, and repressive thinking, but they all lead to the same thing – the brokenness of our hearts – the need for something bigger, greater, and more powerful than ourselves to overcome sin and to call out the righteousness that can be planted within us by the Spirit. (Paul would be proud. That’s a New Testament-like run-on sentence if I’ve ever written one. But read it again – I believe there’s truth within.)

I’m a doer and fixer. After all, I am a guy. We’re problem-solvers. We see problems, diagnose the situation, and attempt to implement a plan to fix that problem. So often, it’s easy to go the route of behavior modification, as opposed to wrestling through what the real underlying issues may be. Here’s an example. I want to lose weight, right? Who doesn’t? So I eat less (most days), exercise more, and alter my diet. That should fix the problem, right? Not really. The underlying issue still exists. Underneath a stronger, more endurance-trained (unfortunately not slimmer) me, there is still the mindset that I am not desirable. That’s the root issue. I want to be desirable. Then the question becomes, is God big enough for that? Is His Love enough for me? Will it satisfy?

So that is where we’re heading, friends. Deeper. The heights and the depths. There’s no turning back now. It’s high time the church were challenged to dig deep and pray hard. A life that lacks passion isn’t a life worth living. A passionate man/woman knows pain, as much as they do joy. But their joy is greater, because they’ve wrestled through the depths of darkness, and found their reasons to hope in the Light.

As we go deeper, we will be lifted higher. The humble man is lifted up by the LORD. One who prays has his prayers heard by the Son, who takes those requests and petitions them before the Father. As we face the deepest of depths, the Spirit will lift us up to the highest of heights. Let’s summit this mountainous life, together.

Image

Where Art Thou?

O Father, where art thou?

Before you, humbled, I bow.

No merit, nor worth, only shame,

Standing before you, I came.

 

But you see, I’m here, I’m waiting,

Similar to my wait for dating;

You seem far off, unreachable

Perhaps it’s me, have I not been teachable?

Shall I sulk and wait, distracted?

Shall my heart remain not impacted?

Will I ever feel that zealous passion,

Being again reminded of such compassion?

 

Darkness seems closer than ever,

Evil’s prince deceives me; clever.

Has my heart been hardened?

Shall I not be pardoned?

Sickness looms and exhausts,

Not sure if I’m able, I’m at a loss.

 

Have I lost my usefulness?

Are you no longer in need of my youthfulness?

A joyful man, I once was, now depressed.

Cannot hold in feelings of sorrow I’ve repressed.

 

Where is this Spirit, the one whom shall save?

Where has he gone, shall I prepare for the grave?

 

Society cannot handle truthfulness from the heart,

Should I share this, they’d quickly depart.

It’s easy to support someone joyous and bright,

But this now, it does not bring delight.

 

A brilliant mind, I’ve been told I have,

Yet, it would seem, I always give half.

Potential wasted, nothing here to be proud of,

Haven’t heard those words in a while, “proud of.”

 

O LORD, Father God, come quick,

My body reflects my heart, I’m sick.

Sin remains, lifestyle unchanged,

So many things need rearranged.

I need Your courage, I feel estranged.

 

O God, like David, I’m in a valley,

I’m ready for more ups than downs, have you checked the tally?

The last month, far more frown than smiles,

Feels like my heart’s been wandering for miles.

 

I’d keep runnin’, but I’m tired.

I desire You, it’s how I’m wired.

Your Spirit’s real, I know it is.

I’ve seen it before, I’ll tell my kids.

So won’t you now, raise me up?

Half-empty or not, fill my cup?

 

An emotional man, I’m designed to be,

Tears will come quite naturally,

Sorrowful tears are wearing me out,

Change them to joyful, a praise I’ll shout!

 

But You’re my God, humble your child,

You’re seasoning my life, even though I’d prefer it to be mild.

Shimmering splendor, perhaps you’d prefer me spicy,

But Lord, my God, at least entice me.

Consume me once again with your fragrant splendor,

Empower me to worship unhindered.

 

You called my name, so here I am,

What shall you require, I AM?