Sep 13, 2022
Dark times, breaking points, can’t sleep, can’t breathe….sometimes hope seems impossible. However, I’m living proof that impossible is possible! Today I’ll share a very personal story and a song written out of those emotions.
Today’s a little usual in that the song we’ll be talking about hasn’t been yet released yet. Find out how you can hear it and other unreleased songs at GGSSPodcast.com, Episode 14. (There might even be a free download in it for you J.)
Today’s featured song is called Impossible is Possible. It’s a collaboration with my friend Kathy Tschida. You’ll get to hear part of Kathy’s God-story in next week’s episode. Make sure you check it out!
LIFE’S AMAZING TIMES
You know, as I look back on my life, I’m amazed how God has worked in our lives.
Right after we got married we moved to Minnesota and attended what is now called Bethany Global University. It was so much more than a school. I’m still inspired to this day by the work being done there and the community of believers that helped us grow up with in many ways. God used it to set a wonderfully firm foundation for me and Cindy as a newly married couple.
When it was time to branch out to other heights that God had for us, I felt confident and ready. When I got my first full-time worship pastor position at Friendship Church in 1997, I was so excited and could see that God had his hand on it.
HIDING IN PLAIN VIEW
But times certainly weren’t always easy. We had to deal with family things like most people have to deal with. Don’t get me wrong, we have an incredible family, but there were some serious struggles for sure. We weren’t exempt just because we’re Christians and especially not as a pastor’s family. Unfortunately I tried to deal with those things in my own strength, and often made things worse. Does that sound familiar?
I don’t know if it was fear of what people would think of us or pride or shame or because I was a pastor and not supposed to have problems, but we hid the majority of our pain and challenges. There were times when we, Cindy and I, felt like failures, very alone and very afraid.
From this vantage point of life, however, I know that was the enemy’s plan for us and not the way God would have had it. I hope you can benefit from hearing about my mistakes and avoid a lot of needless suffering yourself.
It’s still almost overwhelming these many years later, to reflect on the goodness of God to us during that time, how He stayed with us, carried us, sustained us and raised us up from a pretty dark place.
ANOTHER ROUND OF DARKNESS
Once things settled down a bit, another time of darkness came upon me personally. Even as a Christian, fear and identity issues were constant companions most of my life and showed up in my reactions to stress. Things grew increasingly worse over the years until I finally had to get help.
I didn’t recall ever feeling helpless or hopeless before that time. Previously I would have “decided” that I could handle things myself. For me to say “yes” to getting help, was a difficult decision. However, despair had set in and I did not like it. I could not breathe. I could not sleep. I was embarrassed and ashamed that I actually needed help, but I, indeed, needed help.
I shot up a flare and God answered. After 2 sessions with a counselor, she thought it would be best for me to see a colleague of hers. It was at that point that I knew something was truly going on inside me.
To decide to walk into a counseling office again was huge. I knew that things would probably get worse before they got better. “Pressing in” was my first choice.
It didn’t take long for the new therapist to confirm there was something deep inside and it would take some work to get to the core of it. I have to say, fear almost paralyzed me. It was hard to think about facing the unknown giant that was about to be exposed. But my reactions to stress were not healthy and without exposing truth, there was no way to get better, to function normally again.
In my gut I had an inkling of what it might be, but I did not want it to be that! With each session, more and more memories came to the surface. How could something like this could be hidden in my mind? How? Each week I had to consciously decide to go back for another session and expose more of the hurtful past.
It was about a two-month process to get all these nightmarish memories out to the forefront. There it was, now, the truth in all its ugliness and awfulness, memories as fresh as if they had just happened to me. I won’t go into detail here and it wasn’t from my immediate family, but it was terrible. There were some real moments that I thought not being here would be better than living with this. I felt ashamed even though I had no fault in this as an 8 year old.
I was also MAD! Were the memories better hidden away? The answer is a resounding “NO”. They were not better hidden, but I had to figure out a way to deal with them and move on.
Recovery was a very lengthy process. Thank God for a therapist who loves Jesus and could help me “press on”. Her kindness and wisdom were absolutely incredible. As I did my difficult but healing homework, we began to see slow progress. Each day I was able to “press on” a little more. My whole family was so supportive and kind and gentle. I am so blessed! My wife was (and is) a rock star! I could not have done this without her!
Fast forward over 10 years now. The things that happened to me in my past do not define me. Yes, they happened, but God controls my future if I allow Him. I chose to press on. I chose to do the very difficult work of recovery. I had a therapist (and some meds that I needed at the time). I joined a Celebrate Recovery group. Celebrate Recovery is an amazing ministry that helps people deal with all sorts of life struggles like sexual abuse, codependency issues, loss of a spouse, drugs and alcohol addictions, pornography addictions and the list goes on. I leaned in to the help that was available and spent time with those further along in the recovery journey.
God saw the flare I shot up, came to me and threw me the life line! Beautiful.
PASS IT ALONG
Most of us in this “category” think you cannot and should not talk about it. My therapist told me, “Mark, I want you to tell your wife about this experience.” I said “No.”
I told her anyway. It was very hard to even utter the words, but I pressed on and told her. My therapist was happy about that.
Then she said, “I want you to tell your kids.” I said, “No.”
I told them anyway. Really hard! But they were so comforting and reassuring. There! I did what she asked me to do. Surely that would be all.
Then she told me, “Mark, I want you to tell your pastor.” I said “No.”
I told him anyway. He was amazing. He cried with me. He walked with me through so much! My therapist was happy.
Then she said, “I want you to give your testimony at Celebrate Recovery." I promptly said, “No!"
I told them anyway as part of my testimony. It was so healing and so freeing. People lined up afterwards and said, “That happened to me also. I didn’t know you could talk about it.” My therapist was very happy about that.
Then she had the gall, the audacity to tell me, “Mark, I want you to give your testimony in church.” In CHURCH? In front of all those people? People that know me? I said to her, “Are you crazy?!” (I really did.) She chuckled and reassured me that this was part of the process. I told her “this process sucks.” I was firm in my NO.
I gave my testimony anyway. I stammered through. I cried on stage. People cried in the congregation. I gave glory to God for walking with me through this. And they clapped. They stood up and clapped! Not for me, but for what God did for me. And guess what happened after? Yup, people lined up and said, “I didn’t know you could talk about that. That happened to me also.” I was able to meet with so many people, to give encouragement and direct them to help and hope.
CAN YOU RELATE?
I’ve had two really really dark times in my life. Yes there’s been some other moments that have been hard, but the dark moments were different. I’m sure even as you are listening to this, you can think about a dark moment or two - when it all seemed hopeless and you felt helpless and alone. And yet here we are today. You might even be going through one of those dark moments right now. I want you to know from experience, there is hope and help and as I said in Episode 12, we don’t have to beg God for that. We need to listen for His voice because He’s talking through His Word even right now. We need to reach out and grab his hand. And think of people in your life that are godly, people that have been through some tough things in their lives, reach out to them and ask for help. Don’t give the enemy any more room in your life. The enemy is a liar and a thief. He will tell you that there is no hope and that you are not worth any help. But friends, the Word of God says otherwise.
PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT
In Luke 15:4–7 in the Message version it says this,
“Suppose one of you had 100 sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the 99 in the wilderness and go after the one lost until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home calling your friends and neighbors, saying, celebrate with me! I found my lost sheep! Count on it – there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner‘s rescued life then over 99 good people in no need of rescue.”
In Matthew 11:28–29 in the Message version it says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t let anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
REMEMBERING GOD’S GOODNESS
I know you might be saying, Mark, you don’t know what I’ve been through. And that’s true. But I can only tell you, the things that I’ve been through have been the darkest that I can imagine, to the point of not wanting to be here on earth anymore. Yes, I just said that. I’m not here trying to compare what I went through with what you went through. I’m just saying there is hope.
After hearing this God-story, I’m sure you can feel the emotion behind these lyrics. The first verse of Impossible is Possible says this-
I think about your goodness God
How you sustained me, how you’ve carried me
Even when I thought I was alone, I know you walked with me
Though worries swelled and fear thrived
And the end seemed unknown
But you knew the end from the start
The chorus says:
God is so good, God is so kind
Only God can do what God can do
His word fills my mind gives me life gives me hope gives me truth
Even in the dark of night, I rest in You
This verse is a personal declaration of God‘s goodness in the midst of our dark times, past, present and future.
I saw this video a while back of this young child probably two- or three-years old crying in a crowded place. And her daddy walked up to her and got down on his knees and looked at her and said some very comforting words and she stopped crying and he gave her a hug and she hugged him back and then she was fine. She just needed the comfort and assurance that her daddy was nearby. That was a beautiful thing to see. And we can experience that with our heavenly father. Certainly, we need to spend time in the word of God and praying and praising on a regular basis for this to become a true reality in our life.
The title comes from the bridge of the song which says:
Your word never fails, your peace conquers fear
Impossible is possible
You see my pain, your love overcomes
Impossible is possible
Feels like a Psalm to me :-)
HOW CAN WE PRAISE AT A TIME LIKE THIS?
Is it possible to praise God and to love God in the midst of the darkest moments in our life? It is! But it’s a choice. And when we hang out with people that point us to the word of God, that pray for us, that give us godly counsel, this becomes more of a normal response for us. Who are you hanging out with? Are they giving you godly words of wisdom or are they feeding your anger and fear and hurt?
MUSIC MAKES STUFF STICK
And what are you listening to? I’m not suggesting that all secular music is bad. I’m not saying that at all. But I’ve listened to a fair amount of much of the music of the day and I’m fairly shocked in the hopelessness and sometimes even the evil that is in our music that we listen to.
We’ve said again & again & again that music makes stuff stick. It can make the good, positive, godly things stick or it can make the hopeless and helpless and evil things stick as well. That’s just truth! Practice listening to good, Jesus-pointing music. Practice praising at the beginning of your day. Practice praising in the midst of your storms.
If you’re going through some serious dark times right now, I encourage you to please reach out to your pastor or a friend who will point you to Jesus, who will pray for you and walk with you. And if you want me to pray for you, you can reach me ON ggsspodcast.com. I would be honored to pray for you in whatever you are going through.
I hope Impossible is Possible will encourage your spirit and inspire fresh hope! Find out how you can hear it and get a free download at GGSSPodcast.com Episode 14.
Also, remember to listen in next week for a God-story shared by Kathy Tschida, the co-writer of Impossible is Possible. I’m really looking forward to it!