Sometimes We Have To Retreat To Win

Reflection on my reflection
Reflection on my reflection

I retreated to the Georgia mountains yesterday for a time of reflection, introspection, redirection, prayer and focus. In fact, I’m writing this entry from my secret hideaway. My exact location is known only by God, my wife, and of course, the NSA (but that’s a discussion for another day).

I’ve been through a tough 15 months, floundering ‘in the wilderness’, as they say, and I was beginning to despair. I’ve made some bad decisions (financial and career, not moral), chased some rabbit trails and ‘wild geese’, and found myself at the end of my wits, my cash flow, and I feared, my sanity. Despair was giving way to long term depression.

“Open doors” turned into dead ends and “answered prayers” were nothing more than cruel hoaxes. I pursued career possibilities that weren’t and ministry opportunities that led nowhere. Friends and family, including our Church family, have been supportive and encouraging, but have been as baffled as I about my ongoing exile.

As I have walked through ‘the valley of the shadow’, I have never doubted the existence of God, or the truth of the Gospel. I have, though, at times wondered what kind of God He is. He has seemed cruel, distant and too busy blessing other people to be bothered with me. There seemed to be no ‘rod and staff’ to comfort me. I could not experience the victory of the resurrection, only the constant pain of crucifixion. The only Scripture I could recall is, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me.”

I swear if I’d heard one more well-meaning person say, “We don’t know why this is happening, but we know God has something special planned for you”, I was going to run out into traffic. It was hollow in my ears and a dagger to my heart, rather than comfort for my soul.

My poor, wonderful, amazing wife has walked with me every dark step of the way. She has wept and prayed for and with me. If it was not for her support I might very well have broken. An old song says, “You were wind beneath my wings”. She has been so much more than that. She has been the eagle to my Frodo, carrying my broken soul to safety from the flames of Mordor.

Today, a hat trick of events has come together and rendered a miniscule crack in the darkness, allowing in enough light to provide the hint of a path forward.

  1. A post on Facebook led me to 2Chronicles 20 as part of my Bible reading for today. In that story, the Kingdom of Judah is being invaded by a three nation alliance and the future looks bleak. Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, calls the nation together to pray. In his prayer, the King openly admits, “we don’t know what to do. We are relying on you.” (Verse 12). You’ll have to read the chapter for yourself to see what happens.
  2. Someone I have known for many years, and whose family has been more than dear to me, has rejected the notion of Faith and the existence of God. My heart burns like fire and acid and I would single handedly storm the very gates of Hell, to change his mind. I cannot bear the agony of knowing anyone, especially those I care about, making such a choice.
  3. I saw myself in the mirror and realized that time is slipping away. Tic Toc. The years have not been kind to me. I look old and weary. I can see clearly that I have more miles behind me than in front of me, so I must make the most of the days I have. Time marches on. It takes its toll on us all. We must seize the day as if it’s our very last, fight as if the battle depends on us, pray as if it depends on God and repeat the process with each new dawn we are given.

From the time I was three years old, all I have ever wanted to do was preach the Gospel. While other kids dreamed about NFL careers, or wanted to practice law, or hit a baseball for money, I fantasized about standing in front of multitudes of people, introducing them to Jesus. To this day, my greatest joy comes from sharing Christ’s message of hope.

That life was stolen from me just as I entered my prime. The details are inconsequential; it happened. Period. Now it’s time to reclaim my calling, my destiny. I don’t know how just yet, but I know the what.

Along with preaching, my other great passions are writing and teaching people how to grow food to feed themselves. Everything else is just a distraction.

Now comes the hard part; figuring out how to do those three things in a way that glorifies God and supports my family at the same time. Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, while “We don’t know what to do. We’re relying on You”.

12 thoughts on “Sometimes We Have To Retreat To Win

  1. Wow Sam, other than you not rooting for the Badgers you and I have a lot in common. I too feel lost at times, financially I’m broke. I’m 47, I had two major spinal surgeries years ago, lost a job and have pretty much been living off of my girlfriend and doing side jobs to survive. There are days where my back just wont allow me to even work 4 hours, some days not at all. I am now trying to start up a house painting company to make a living. My passion and dreams is to have land and be able to provide all the organic veggies and animals my family needs as well as being able to sell at the markets. I have fought with God inside my head, wondering why me sometimes, and than you here someone else’s story and realize yours really isn’t that bad. I could go on and on but I wont. I will start praying to our buddy up there that things start to turn around for the two of us. God bless and happy gardening!

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  2. My Friend Sam,
    I know all too well what you mean in your blog post, unfortunately? I thank you for being able to articulate your feelings so eloquently, your words mean so much to me as they resonate in my mind. I will certainly not bore you with any comments such as God has a plan, or you have to go through it to do it, or you must have a test to have a testimony, etc…. However I will say I completely identify as I have sat and pondered some of the same thoughts. I would love to talk some time Sam, I think we have much we can offer each other in our Christ centered friendship? Anyway thanks so much my brother for sharing these feelings, I hope we can talk soon.

    Bobby Nunez

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  3. Sam you are a survivor. Always have been and always will be. I love you brother. My prayers are with you and Brittan that you will both find where God wants you to be. Truly listen to Him while you are away by yourself. Quiet your mind and listen. He will direct you if you allow Him to. Keep your faith, you will survive as you always have. Keep preaching, keep teaching, keep writing, keep growing keep loving and keep believing.

    Let go and let God
    Ginny Juhl

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  4. Sam I don’t know much I do know that we Darla and I love you and Brittan and more important GOD does love you both more

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  5. A wonderfully insightful and eloquent piece as always Sam, although if can say without meaning to be presumptuous, I see rather more of myself in this than I was expecting. I’m quite certain that the family friend to whom you refer did not intend to cause any spiritual strife or expect you to worry. Indeed, if he did i am certain it would wound him. We each walk our own path, make choices with our hearts, minds and spirit in equal measure. You remain one of the most thoughtful and giving men I know and if you wish to open a dialogue, you know where I am.

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    • Thanks for the feedback, Gareth. Your family holds a very special place in my heart. Your parents were there for me when it seemed like no one else was. That is etched forever in my heart. As for you, well, in some sense, you will always be a ‘Grublet’ in my memory. 🙂

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