The day that we visited the South Walton church of Christ was the day that I had a moment of realization similar to when I stepped into the Redwood Forest in Northern California and wiped tears of joy from my face from the awareness I would never see another National Park as beautiful as what I was seeing. The same was true in Destin, Florida. As I walked through sand almost as white as snow and saw straight through the crystal clear turquoise waves cresting and falling on this Emerald Coast, I realized that no matter how far I traveled, I would never in my life see any beach more beautiful than this. We’d only planned to stay a couple nights, but knew we’d want to return so in the morning, Mark’s first stop was to the office at Camp Gulf RV Park to find out about weekly and monthly rates.
After the sun went down on our second day on Miramar Beach in Destin, we finished dinner, and headed toward the church building adjacent to the RV park which was just a few minutes walk, past all the lit up palm trees and RVs all decked out for the holidays. Mark had emailed before we arrived, so they recognized him and we immediately started recalling all the church family we both knew and had in common, and before we would be parted they invited Mark to come back and help the work there for a few weeks the next time we pass through -- SOLD! The work we do on the road is what makes the play that much more enjoyable. “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light” That’s how we roll.
For a congregation that knew how to deeply discuss the the scriptures so well, and in a quick passing moment two class participants openly expressed their admiration for each other at an appropriate moment during the Bible class, and also were merrily laughing so hard and so long together in the foyer, that I moved closer to the girl I was having a conversation with so we could hear each other, the very sobering topic I’ve chosen as a theme for such a happy, cheerful congregation would seem perhaps misplaced, except that it came up after our great Bible class and is imperative that it be included in this collection. I’m quite certain the good and generous hearts we met on this evening would appreciate this topic as certainly worth taking the time to contemplate how we might serve those who are despairing unto death. It may even be one of the most important topics that will be considered in this book. Do visit this joyous group if you are visiting the Emerald Coast of Florida --- especially if you are a young person because there were just as many youth present for this Bible class as there were marrieds on up!
In order to honor privacy, I’ll only say that someone not living locally that a member loves had checked into a mental health facility to prevent a sucide. I admired the courage of the soul who asked for prayers for this loved one, in fact, I gave the person a contact card of mine to listen to the podcast on Nomadsyouandi.com that corresponds to this entry of 100 Churches.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2018, 48,344 Americans died by suicide. In 2018, there were an estimated 1.4M suicide attempts. Even more vast, must be the numbers of those who would never attempt suicide, but who live in despair.
What are some things you might consider saying to someone you meet who is presently wanting to take their own life? First, this: There are options: There are always other options. If someone is on the brink invite them to Call 800-273-8255 immediately to hear about some of those other options.
Here are a few more things I ask the suicidal to consider:
If you are young and single, your future spouse and children hope you choose life.
If you have family, please spare your loved ones that level of grief. You are important to them. Please have mercy on them. Even if you have no mercy on yourself right now, have mercy on your friends and family. Do not break their hearts.
Let this reality prevent you from harming yourself. I learned it first hand from a close friend who worked at an X Ray lab at Harborview Medical in Seattle: A lot of people who try to take their own life are unsuccessful and instead lose quality of life forever by damaging their bodies. You DO NOT want to have the same challenges you do now, but be without any mobility, etc.
Take courage, my fellow human being, my dear one. Things are guaranteed to change over time. Life, by its nature, can never stay the same. It never rains forever. Life storms are temporary.
You don't know which mountain top experiences you would be denying yourself. Good things are going to happen. There is most likely wonderful joy ahead. The best is often yet to come.
Taking your life is the only thing you can do that would remove all hope. And for that reason, there is no act more illogical, more senseless, more unnecessary, more wasteful. Because, you see, circumstances are temporary, but suicide is irreversible. It is permanent.
You, like many many others who have felt like you in this moment, can go on to use this, your "on the brink of ending my life, but thought better of it" experience to eventually help others off the same edge. You never know who waits to be inspired by your victory story. Be an inspiration.
It is terrifying to take your own life, and there are far better uses for your courage than ending your life. Open your heart to a better use of your courage. Your spiritual enemy has a plan for your demise. Don't let him win this battle. Instead of putting to death your body, put to death the old, destructive ways of thinking.
It is your spirit that is hurting. Separating your spirit from your body will not make that pain go away. The real solution is to remove from your soul and spirit any sin-filled thoughts and actions that your Creator says bring pain.
The moment in front of you is a very holy thing.
Find your pulse. Feel the beating of your heart. There’s your physical body. There is much more to you than that. What we see is only a fractional part of what really is. No matter what you’ve been told, you have a spirit and soul inside you too. In fact, you are MUCH more spirit and soul than you are body. So much so, a wise man once said, `` You don’t have a soul. You are a soul.” You ARE a soul, and that is why you must not take your own life. You must not take your own life because you would regret it the moment it is accomplished, because your spirit and your soul exist forever. And life was given to you as a gift from God whom you will meet face to face one day. If you leave this earth before your time, it would leave undone all the good you were given life in order to accomplish.
Now that you’ve come realize and feel the real YOU inside, notice your emotions. Name a couple of them. Those emotions often jump around our brains unchecked like monkeys in a cage, but here’s the truth: Those emotions are nothing more than the body's reaction to your brain’s thoughts. That’s all. And here’s the good news: Your spirit, for the good of your soul, can take back the power you’ve mistakenly given to your emotions to drive your life into despair.
Open your heart now, to the teaching I’m about to share with you, to show you how to, once and for all, disempower your own emotions. No one else can do this for you. When you are broken, realize not everything is broken and you will need the unbroken things to work alongside your Creator to put yourself back together.
Too many people have made their emotions God. They have enthroned them and allow their emotions to drive their life. But here’s how to rearrange the seating assignments of your person, that is, the entire vehicle of who you are: The body must be in the back seat. It’s not smart enough on its own to be in charge. The body is a bundle of “wants”, like a hedonist that only wants food, sex, drugs, and whatever other pleasures it can get.
Believe it or not, your mind also must sit in the back seat because, although it is much more intelligent it is still a physical organ and needs some guidance as well because it can fall into addictive and destructive thought patterns and cycles. Like your body, it must be trained by the driver. And what part of you is in the driver’s seat of your heart? Your spirit. Your spirit must be in the driver’s seat because it has the capacity to choose one thought over another. Your spirit must be in the driver’s seat because it has a lot more at stake to make sure you get to your intended destination: The inspired Scriptures say “...the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7.
Oh, and who is the guest of honor being driven around in the company of all the parts of you? Your eternal soul. I sometimes think of the relationship of the spirit to the soul similar to the relationship of the mind to the body. The mind and the body cease to live outside this realm, this experience of existence on this perfect, intelligently designed planet. The word of God says that is NOT the case with the spirit and the soul. The eternal spirit drives the eternal soul, similarly to how the temporal mind drives the temporal body.
There is inspired scripture that makes reference to all the parts within you. And you know what else that inspired scripture that makes reference to all the parts within you ALSO mentions? It gives the one secret to having EVERY part of you utterly thriving. Stare this verse down and meditate on it in silence for an extended period of time.
“For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword” even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, [physical] and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
Uncountable numbers of people have gone from absolute despair to having every part of their being thriving. How? We do this by allowing the sharp word of God into our minds, so it can touch our hearts, like a skillfully welded surgical instrument, to such an extent that we let it motivate us to remove from our lives the sins that destroy us. God calls that process repentance. And if it feels a little like surgery to remove from your life the addictive thoughts and actions that destroy you, that withdrawal pain is normal and it gets better day by day. And what follows repentance? What follows repentance is the spiritual rebirth of the soul. Spiritual Rebirth. We ALL need spiritual rebirth. Here are three scriptures that explain it:
First from the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God...“ I said to you, ‘You must be born again...Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. ” John 3:5. The Lord, Jesus Christ said that spiritual rebirth is a must because spiritual rebirth puts you in the kingdom of God --- a relationship where wisdom and beauty reign.
“Born of the water” is talking about being baptized. When we are born the first time we come out of water. God has chosen the act of baptism to symbolize the innocence you will have in His eyes, for submitting to His wisdom.
Looking for someone to baptize you? Google the closest church of Christ near you. They will answer your Bible questions with an answer from the Bible like no other and baptize you into Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
What else does the word say about starting over? It says the “starting over” is a result of allowing the word of God to be implanted into your heart long enough to germinate and create a new life.
“...you have purified your souls in obedience to the truth… for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” 1 Peter 1:22-23
Starting all over again with a fresh start, a clean slate, who wouldn’t want that? “...if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come…” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Goodbye old life, hello, new life.
Another verse that mentions all the parts of you also states the key to thriving in this life: “...and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ Mark 12:30
Whatever is troubling you is a situation. It is here. It is passing. It is here today. It may not be here tomorrow or later in your future.
What matters has not been lost: An opportunity to be spiritually reborn.
When you become a child of God, suddenly nothing happens TO you. When you become a child of God, everything that happens to you, happens FOR you. His promise is that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)
So where shall you focus my thoughts right now? Your spirit is in charge of your mind.
Be totally alert and use any negative emotions to accomplish your spiritual work.
You are so much more than your present situation.
Choose in this very moment to be reborn and then to appoint your reborn spirit, as your driver --- the servant chauffer of our soul.
So in closing, here’s what God hopes you'll invite Him to do in this moment:
"When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61:2
"Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16
"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all." Psalm 34:18-19
Write to God, pouring your heart out about what hurts. Read three chapters of the Bible every day starting in 2nd Peter, then the whole New Testament starting in Matthew. For the rest of your life list in a journal five things every day for which you are grateful. Teach your brain to habitually look for the good.
You were never created to live depressed, defeated, guilty, ashamed or unworthy. You were born for victory through Jesus Christ. Work alongside Him toward transformation. Together with God, you can turn your wounds into wisdom. You’ve much to look forward to. You were born for this.
64 Casting Lake Drive
Destin, Florida, 32550