(by Darryl Harris)
Blindsided! That’s how I describe it. Like an unsuspecting quarterback, blitzed from the backside by a fiery linebacker with visions of destruction, it hit me.
Of all persons I suspected I would be the least vulnerable. For years I had viewed myself as one of God’s dispensers of truth. Bible student and teacher. Preacher in waiting. Pastor to be. Encourager and calming influence in the midst of a storm, were all attributes I believed accurately described my life and demeanor. Not that I held any of the before descriptions with pride. I thought I realized that none of us can glory in only what God has made us. They were just a manifestation of a life who had been touched in so many ways by God’s grace and saving hand.
Thanksgiving flowed from my lips because of the manifold blessings God had showered on my life. Who could ask for more. A loving wife and three beautiful children who make each day a privilege to watch them grow and develop. Parents who sacrificed so my dreams could come true. A six-figure income following a satisfying athletic career. Promotions, accolades, and recognition from peers, as well as the perks of business success. Exotic travel to exciting destinations, posh hotels, and exquisite cuisine, were all part of the benefit package God allowed me to partake.
What makes this all the more shocking is that I thought I had it all in it’s proper perspective. “The Lord is number one in my life” I often proclaimed. I recognized that it was Jesus Christ who made all these things possible, and encouraged others to trust in his saving power, because he had “a wonderful plan for your life too.”
Then on March 25, 1996 it happened! I made the mistake I had so often warned others. Like Peter, and Thomas, I took my eyes off of the only one who could hold me. In the midst of a painful trial, I took my eyes off of Jesus, and for the first time “entertained doubt”. It’s painful to admit, but I doubted if Jesus would help me through the trial. I even doubted if this place called heaven, this promised place of eternal life, existed. Living in the horizontal will do that to you. And what I soon found out was that doubt’s twin brother for a Christian is misery!
Was this the total rejection of the truth I had so boldly proclaimed? No, I knew deep inside that only God could change my circumstances, but I entertained it. I played the “what if” mind games that lead only to depression and hopelessness. I gave the enemy and opportunity to flood my mind with despair, because that is what life is without God.
Maybe it was the excruciating pain in my body. Maybe it was the medication which clouded my mind and vision. Maybe it was the reality that I could not even control my next breath, and that life was indeed a “vapor” Maybe it was not knowing if life would ever be “the same” again. But it blindsided me. For the first time in my life I felt as if I was falling with nothing to catch me.
But God! If you don’t remember anything I say, remember those two words. But God truly is a God full of grace, and rich in mercy. My problem was not the size of my circumstances, but the size of my God. What I now realize is that I had entered into a process where God was taking me through something, so I could become something. How could I talk about faith and courage to my children if I never had to exercise it myself? How could I minister to those who hurt, if I never hurt? Whatever lay ahead, I needed to realize it ultimately will be for my good.
But God in His mercy, has shown me a wife, who has portrayed “supernatural” strength, through the painful loss of her best friend, her mom. I marvel as she continues life through the pain, with the confident assurance that they will be reunited as promised in God’s Word.
But God in His mercy, has shown me a mother, who despite medical problems that would have crippled even the strongest individuals, continues on her mission of unconditional support for her family. Who listened to my problems when no one else would. Who never gave up because she wanted us to have a chance to see some of our dreams come true. Headlines won’t proclaim her accomplishments or remarkable endurance, but a “crown of life” for those who faithfully endure hardships, truly awaits her in heaven. Her legacy has already touch several generations. She taught me to enjoy the good moments and thank God for life itself.
But God in His mercy, showed me a sister whose faith grew in adversity. Who refused to allow bitter disappointment and disillusionment overtake her. God used her to bring me words of hope and life. I am eternally grateful for her restoring my perspective.
Throughout my physical, mental, and emotional struggle, God simply continued to whisper two phrases to my heart, “believe in me, trust in me”. I’ve discovered, only faith and trust brings peace in the midst of adversity.
Doubt is without question a very human response, but it is also sin. The recognition of your ability to fall headlong into sins such as pride and doubt is truly humbling. When a quarterback is blindsided, the first thing he asks is “where was my left tackle.” Thank God, when I look back, I see that my left tackle, Jesus Christ, was always there. It was me who momentarily scrambled out of the pocket, when the heat was on, and got sacked! Thank God, this backside hit did not permanently injure me. I can still get back in the game!
Will I be blindsided again? Probably. In what form? I don’t know. However, I’ll never fall flat if I remember theses two words.....................But God..................But God...............But God! It’s only then, that you can answer His question, do you trust me, and do you believe?
DON'T GIVE UP! IT AIN'T OVER UNTIL GOD SAYS IT'S OVER!
dedicated to my friend Pastor Darryl Baker of Church of the Harvest in Columbus, Ohio
It Ain't Over by Maurette Brown Clark