I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life that I hadn’t a clue on what direction to take, what decision to make, what my next move was to be, or supposed to be. I remember times that I was so confused by the mess going on around me, that faking the passing minutes with normalcy was my only seeming option. I was lost.

When you find yourself in these valleys, darkness isn’t the only adjective that comes to my mind. Darkness is the reality of it all, but I can list out a full page of adjectives. Lonely, depressed, failure, exhausted, battered; and you can’t have that one unless bruised tags along. I was very bruised. Self-inflicted beat-downs on my life; physically only weighing 97lbs, and mentally I felt crazy. Spiritually? Barely hanging on. What was I doing? And how did I get here? Now what?

I can tell you, unfortunately – and most likely – you won’t wake up the next day and all the heaviness of those feelings will be gone. BUT there is HOPE! Struggle is dark. It’s real and it’s lonely, even when you have an incredible support system; even when you have the right words from the best of people. Depression is as real as joy. How do I know, well, I’ve been there. Yes…I have had some very dark and bad thoughts. And I’ve found myself traveling the scariest of roads. You don’t have to be an alcoholic or a drug abuser to travel these roads, either. These roads welcome anyone who isn’t paying attention to their “map”. The map to salvation through Jesus Christ.

I don’t especially enjoy talking about those times. But I love the fact I can help other through those dark times even more. Why? Because I’m a testament of what Jesus Christ does – He restores the broken! Hallelujah! Amen!

My devotional this morning was focused on Ephesians 3:16.

“I (Paul) pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.”

Isn’t that beautiful? A man in prison, praying for others to be empowered with inner strength. Not physical, but inner! The strongest people are those who can fight battles from the inside. Against what darkness brings; hate, gossip, jealousy, envy & lust. Against adultery, addiction, anger, bitterness, foul language, pride and self-absorbedness. Strong people listen to the direction of the Holy Spirit to guide them and teach them against these things. When we get caught up in ourselves and rely on ourselves to fight our own battles, relying more on our outer strength, we fail. We may look strong, but without the Holy Spirit, we are not!

I did not become an overcomer and survivor all by myself. I can only take credit for one single action. One day, I made a decision to let my guard down, and when I did, I let the most important Man into my life. My savior, Jesus Christ. After years of putting something significant to the side, I made a decision to make it a priority. I forgave. It wasn’t an easy step, but Paul helped me; prayer helped me. I received inner strength from the Holy Spirit to make that life changing move, and now here I am. Free! Free from darkness, free from the bondage of unforgivness. But I had to make the choice to allow it. Me! And if I hadn’t – if I had swept it under the rug, once again – I may not be writing this, and (prayerfully) helping someone else.

Inner strength. The heart muscle. The muscle of life, love, forgiveness, and the muscle that bears my Fathers name.

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