I was tempted to leave “the path” at seven pieces, as seven is the number of completion. But eight is just as significant; it symbolizes a new beginning.
I think most followers of Christ could think back and identify at least one time in their lives when they felt a near-literal shift in the atmosphere as the abrupt ending of a midnight’s tempest collided with the soft blue dawn of a new day. That’s how I felt rising from bed the night after I called out to Jesus – the Nazarene, the Carpenter, the Son of God who calms our storms. I hadn’t even put my feet on the floor yet, and somehow I already felt lighter, peaceful, safe.
I don’t believe for a second that I had ever been alone before that heartfelt prayer. God promises He’ll never leave us, nor forsake us (Deut. 31:6). Jesus promised His disciples before His crucifixion that He would be with us until the end of the age (Matt:28:20). But Jesus also said these words:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8).
I’ve heard it stated that Jesus is a gentleman – He won’t intervene without an invitation. Throughout my depression and ensuing eating disorder, during each compulsive hour and a half on the treadmill, every meal at which I was filled with guilt and self-hatred, Jesus was there with me. But now that I had humbled myself and grasped His nail-pierced hand, He was carrying me.
My dad passed away last August. Since then, I’ve found tremendous comfort in this single Psalm: “A father of the fatherless and a judge and protector of the widows is God in His holy habitation. (Psalm 68:5 AMP).
Just as in a marriage a husband and wife represent Christ and the Church, respectively, righteous fathers always symbolize God the Father. My earthly father was as godly a man as I will ever meet. I’m sincerely convinced of that, and I’m sure many women would say the same of their fathers (We don’t know how blessed we are!).
One of the words that best describes my dad is generous. He derived such joy from giving and sharing with others. He had my guy friends over to play X-Box and let them play the whole time while he gave them pointers (Yes, my dad was a hard-core gamer). He gave another of my friends a barely used mountain bike, and a little boy we’d just met at a tennis match received a toy space shuttle from my dad’s closet (yes, my dad collected toys…and comics). He treated his employees to lunch multiple times a week.
I say all of that to elucidate a scripture following the Matthew passage above: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matt 7:11).
James 4:2 says we don’t have because we don’t ask. Can it get much plainer? As fallen men and women with sinful natures still at work in our sanctified souls, we often think we know best and can do just fine without God’s help. The words of the wisest man in the world says this to our idiocy: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
The way that seemed right to me was to continue doing the same things I had been doing – either depriving myself or eating excessively and working out obsessively – while hoping that eventually, impossibly, I’d be healthy and happy again (I believe it was Einstein who defined “insanity” as this very attitude!). I thank God that when I fell to rock bottom, I had some sense knocked into me and asked for help from the ultimate Healer.
“And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all.” – Luke 6:19