“I’m not supposed to be here.”
Maybe you know the feeling. If you do, you know it pretty much sucks. Maybe you’re familiar with the nauseating sensation that something is terribly wrong, and you’re supposed to be anywhere but here. That head-spinning, gut wrenching realization that even though you aren’t quite sure where you are, or how you got here, you are not where you’re supposed to be.
“Supposed to” is a funny phrase. It implies that there is somewhere you should be, something you should be doing. It implies that there’s a purpose behind life, and right now, things have gone far off track. Somewhere along the way, you took a wrong turn, or forgot to get off at the right exit, and now you're far from home.
Maybe it’s a dead-end job that you know you should have quit a long time ago, or an addiction that has a hold of every thread of your life. Maybe it’s a marriage that has been falling a part for far longer than you’re willing to admit.
For me, the moment hit me after my world completely fell apart. You see if we had met a few years ago, you would have thought my life was, well, perfect. Okay, maybe not perfect, but it sure looked good. I ran two creative businesses, was respected in my industry, and had basically everything in life I could want. I was deeply connected in our church, serving as a worship leader, creative director, and even a teaching pastor. My wife and I had 4 beautiful children, a nice home in a good school district, and we lacked for nothing.
And then, it all came tumbling down.
This wasn’t a trip and skin your knee kind of fall. This was a Humpty-Dumpty, not sure it’s ever going to go back together kind of fall. This was the kind of humiliating, devastating, totally avoidable kind of fall that breaks you into small pieces. The kind of broken pieces that can only be put back together by a patient, compassionate, gracious God who is willing to walk you through the worst journey of your life, to bring you out the other side.
Let’s be clear, it was all my fault. I was to blame, no one else. Not God, not my family, It was my pride, selfishness, fear, and shame that drove me to make a long series of really bad decisions that led to short-cuts in my business and personal life, which led to deceit, and eventually financial ruin. So, even though it was true that where I ended up, wasn’t where I was supposed to be, I got there all on my own.
So, after wrecking my business, almost destroying my family, and creating enough havoc around me to leave more than a few people with scars, God put me in the penalty box. Literally. A 6 x 9 box known as a prison cell, to be precise. Yeah, that part pretty much sucked, except it might have been the most important thing that ever happened to me.
There’s a scene in Bruce Almighty where he keeps asking God for a sign… any sign. He keeps asking as he drives past sign after sign, eventually leading to a wreck. I think if we're really honest, we often live our lives like that - at least I know I did. It’s kind of absurd, as I look back, how many signs God put in front of me, how many opportunities He gave me to turn around, to slow down, to take the next exit, and avoid the chaos, pain and destruction I caused. Instead I kept on driving, until finally I wrecked.
That's when I finally looked around and said to myself "I'm not supposed to be here!" This was never a part of the plan. It was never where I was "supposed" to be. I was "supposed" to be home with my family. I was "supposed" to be living the life I was created for, not this broken version of life I had created for myself.
I realized something though, in the midst of the darkest moments of the journey - that God never leads us into the wilderness to leave us there. He leads us through the wilderness to prepare us for the purpose He has for us.
To say that God needed to humble me and test me is an understatement. So He did. For 39 months. It wasn't quite 40 years, but it was long enough to break my heart, and put it back together the way He designed and desired. It was long enough to recognize that God wanted to change my heart and shape it according to His purpose and plan.
You see, sometimes it's only in the wilderness, when we're stripped of everything we have, that we recognize the only thing we really need. Faith is recognizing that even though you have to go through this thing, God knows what He's doing.
This used to be a place where I shared about business and creativity and photography. Now, I'm not entirely sure what it's going to be, except that I want to use it to encourage those of you who might feel far from home right now. If you've found yourself broken, or lost, or where you're not supposed to be, maybe this story that God is writing through my life, and my family, can be an encouragement that He truly does work all things for good. Even the broken things, the painful things, the ugly things.
You see, God always keeps his promises. He always keeps His word.
Sometimes I wonder if maybe faith is simply taking God at His word. That's my plan for now, and if I can encourage you with my story, then stick around and we'll figure this out together.