Categories
Christian Blog Self Care

Into the Deep

The prayer room at my seminary dorm was small: just two comfy chairs and a little table framed by a window. A wooden box with a hinged lid sat on the table—a place for people to leave prayer requests on the cards provided. Each card had space at the bottom where you could tell the person you prayed for them.

I sat down in one of the chairs, opened the box and began to pray for each request. The first two were like many I’d seen before. “Please pray for my dad. He has open heart surgery next week.” “My cousin isn’t a Christian. Pray that she will accept Jesus as her Savior.”

I reached into the box for another request and fished out a piece of paper that was folded several times. “This is odd,” I thought, as I flattened out the creases.

What I read sent a shiver up my spine: “My name is Daryl and I want to kill myself.” I impulsively scribbled a message back, “Please don’t. I’m here if you want to talk” I added my first name and room number, refolded the paper and put it back in the box.

Later that evening someone came to my door. I opened up to find a rather disheveled man: about my age, with major bed-head hair, tired eyes and mismatched clothing. He looked like a workaholic telecommuter straight from central casting.

“My name is Daryl,” he said. “I’m the one who wrote the note.”

Cue second shiver up my spine. Since I wasn’t sure when my roommate would return, I suggested we talk out in the foyer. I sat near the end of a long couch, while he stood uneasily across from me, repeating (over and again) his intention to end his life. He also mentioned that he had the means to do so–in his car, which was parked right outside.

This was way more than I’d bargained for, but there was literally no one else around. So I began to talk. I shared scripture verses, stories of survival and positive thoughts, but Daryl was undeterred.

NOTHING helped.

I asked him to wait while I went to get someone, but he refused. He said he would leave if I did. By this time he was clearly agitated: pacing back and forth throwing glances at the front door.

Exasperated and out of options, I got on my knees beside the couch and began to pray out loud. For 15 minutes…30 minutes…45 minutes, I cried out to God: “Heavenly Father, please help Daryl want to live!”

Sometime after the 45 minute mark I felt him sit down on the couch beside me. I looked up. Daryl began to quietly sob. He told me he wouldn’t go through it. Reaching into the pocket of his tattered brown blazer, he pressed something into my hand that brought the third shiver of the day: a single 12 gauge shotgun shell.

At 1 a.m. we parted ways. It turned out he was my next door neighbor who’d just returned to seminary in the past twenty-four hours!

At 8 a.m. that same morning I waited outside the student counselor’s office. Let’s just say I was his most interesting walk-in that day! I told him the whole story. He said he was familiar with Daryl and knew he had just returned to campus. Someone close to him had committed suicide and he was in danger of doing so himself. The counselor had been trying to contact him.

I head back to the dorm, and sure enough, there’s a thick thumb-tacked stack of notes on the message board for Daryl. The next day there’s a message for me. It’s from the counselor. Daryl had been to see him and was returning home. I am to keep the entire matter in confidence.

The only evidence that remained of what happened was my vivid memory and a 12 gauge magnum shotgun shell.

Then Samuel took a stone and placed it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “So far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12

I soon realized that the shotgun shell represented MY Ebenezer from God–a reminder of His help in my inadequacy. I walked “into the deep” to rescue a man who’d lost his way, but was unable to lead him out.

God intervened and saved us both.

Almost 30 years later, I still have that shotgun shell. It sits in the back of a drawer and I take it out from time to time. Holding it in my hand, I recognize a certain overconfident young man (me) who overestimated his abilities, and then I thank the God who stepped in.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I hope you’re still out there, Daryl— happily alive and middle-aged like me.

Categories
Peace Self Care

God’s Psychiatry

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 39:18 (NIV

In 2007, after a second bout with cancer, my dad died. I realize this isn’t the most engaging starting sentence, but please stay with me.


A few months after dad passed, my wife and I were visiting with mom in the home they shared. Longing to reconnect with my father in some way, I ended up in the workshop out back, where he and I bonded over many a project.

I walked out and bumped open the door, which had been closed so long it was stuck shut. The work bench was cluttered with tools and an assortment of nuts and bolts. Dad must have left them when he no longer felt like puttering around the shop. “I NEED to tidy things up,” I thought outloud; “He had a place for everything and everything in its place.”

But I couldn’t. I simply didn’t know where all the stuff went. Standing there holding a mason jar full of orphaned stove bolts, I started to cry. But then I looked up and saw Big Mouth Billy Bass on the wall, a gift from one of my father’s fishing buddies.

I reached up and gave Billy’s red button a push, just for old-time’s sake, and he came to life: flapping his tail and singing that famous Bobby McFaren song—“Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

But here’s the miracle, that silly fish always started at the beginning, but not today. This time God fast forwarded to the part I really needed to hear–where Billy raises his head, looks at you and sings, “🎶Don’t Worry, Be Happy🎶.”

The Lord (and my dad) wanted me to drop the mantle of over- responsibility I’d taken upon myself. It was a most comforting feeling.

Have you had a, “Big Mouth Billy Bass” type encounter with God?

I’d love to hear about it!

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the one most dear to you.

Matthew 5:4 (MSG)

PS: today would have been dad’s 85th birthday.

Categories
Perspective Self Care

Let Me See Your Tongue

As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.

Proverbs 27:19

My mother grew up on a 160 acre cotton farm in the sandy hills of southwest Oklahoma. The nearest town, of any size, was 15 miles away. Such isolation made self-reliance a given.

Because the farm was a ‘far piece’ from anywhere, as my grandfather liked to say, grandmother often served as a country doctor. Cuts were wrapped in a clean rag soaked in turpentine, and the cure for almost any internal ailment was a substantial dose of castor oil.

Grandmother also had a curious way of determining a diagnosis prior to treatment. If you told her you weren’t feeling well (I did this only once) she would say, “Let me see your tongue.” This was the only time I was allowed to stick my tongue out at my maternal forebearer.

You see, Grandmother believed the color of one’s tongue revealed their general state of health. I tried to tell her about the green Jolly Rancher I’d been sucking on, but she STILL brought out the castor oil.


Jesus knows a thing or two about tongues as well.

But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. (Matthew 15:18 NIV) For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45 NIV)

The REAL me is reflected in my words.

Here’s how I picture it:

The tongue is like a thermometer, while the heart is like a thermostat–the former is effected by the latter.

This connection between words, actions and heart is as real as death and taxes.

I love how the psychedelic NYC street performer, Matthew Silver, talks about human beings. He’s quite the philosopher.

You’re already doing, you’re always doing what’s in your heart; you can’t get away from your heart.

Matthew Silver


Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/05/30/thermometer-or-thermostat/