I like to have a plan. And a backup plan. And a backup to the backup plan. And I hate it when things deviate from the plan. I’m a planner. Which is really just a nice way of saying that I can be quite the control freak. 🙂
But God is a better planner 🙂
Christian Challenge’s anniversary celebration, Jubilee, was in March – and the guest speaker for 2017 was someone I had never met before: Pastor Cody East from Resurrection Life in Baton Rouge.
I knew a little bit about Resurrection Life Church. Christian Challenge supported them as a missions outreach. They were an inner city church doing some great things in their community. Ever since I learned about them, I had wanted to visit, maybe even do something for their children or help with an outreach… but I never pursued it. I also knew that Resurrection Life was a Pentecostal (AG) church… something that I was both drawn to and a little afraid of at the same time. (I had some bad experiences in churches that called themselves “Pentecostal” before.)
But Jubilee was wonderful, and getting to meet Pastor Cody and his family there definitely renewed my interest in visiting them.
A couple of weeks later in April, I applied for a two-week contract job in Baton Rouge. I shouldn’t have gotten it. They could have filled all the positions with local people and saved some money. But somehow, it worked out for me to get the assignment. As soon as the plans were finalized, I contacted the Easts and made arrangements to visit Resurrection Life for their Tuesday night prayer meeting.
But the night before the job was to begin, I stopped at an Urgent Care for a relatively minor thing – I had an annoying allergic rash on my arms, and over the counter stuff wasn’t making much of a dent. When the nurses took my routine vitals, my blood pressure was 225/125. They tried a couple more times to make sure the reading was accurate. It was.
Needless to say, everyone was quite alarmed. I was given the “I’m trying to scare you” talk, which most definitely scared me! I was told how dangerous this was, and how it would kill me if I didn’t take action. They wanted to send me straight to the ER, but since I had no other symptoms, they sent me off with a prescription for blood pressure medication.
That night and the following morning, I had a struggle with depression like I’ve never had before. I started thinking about an abusive church situation that I had left many years before. The pastor told me that I was out of God’s will because God hadn’t told him that I was supposed to leave. He told me that someday I’d get sick and die because there’d be no one to pray the prayer of faith for me. I wasn’t just walking away from a church, I was turning by back on God.
And even though the rational side of me knew it couldn’t be true, I began to wonder… could that be what was happening to me now? As I drove to Baton Rouge before sunrise that morning, I wrestled with some of the darkest thoughts I’ve ever had. I began to think it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to be dead. Maybe I just wouldn’t take the BP medicine. Or maybe I’d just take it all at once. Or maybe I’d become a story on the Louisiana State Police FB feed: “Single vehicle crash claims life of Pineville woman in XXX Parish. Toxicology reports pending.”
This was the first time in my life I’d ever seriously wrestled with thoughts of suicide. It was intense. By the time the sun began to rise and I was approaching BR, I had managed fight back those thoughts. I was exhausted, but never so grateful for the distraction of a full day’s work.
By the end of the day, I just wanted to go to the hotel and get some sleep. I picked up my phone to send a message to the Easts, intending to apologize and excuse myself from the prayer meeting. But when I looked at my screen, the calendar was open, and I could see the notification for “Resurrection Life” starting in 60 minutes. And I thought to myself, “I need that. I need some resurrection in my life about now.”
(To be continued…)