Eye of the Storm: Crossroads

Eye of the Storm: Crossroads

Ryan StevensonBy Ryan Stevenson11 Minutes

Excerpt from Eye of the Storm: Experiencing God When You Can’t See Him by Ryan Stevenson

 

Chapter 15

Crossroads

The easiest thing for any human to do is doubt. We are all driven by our emotions, and our emotions are always experiencing a series of ups and downs. We find ourselves on peaks and in valleys, caught between hope and despair, joy and depression. And our circumstances are also continually in flux. One day things are going great, and the next we find ourselves struggling.

Life is a roller coaster.

Since we are always tempted to base our emotional responses only on what we can see at a moment in time, we struggle with doubts. This isn’t helped much by the emotional baggage we carry from our past, which threatens the present because of our brokenness. We must somehow learn how to deal with that baggage. We can’t just ignore it or wish it away, because it will always have a subtle influence on our marriage, our career, our calling, our personality, and even our relationship with God. Unless our brokenness gets healed, it will affect how we think and feel and act every day.

We want to see that healing, that brokenness, get taken care of in a miraculous moment where God intervenes and changes everything immediately. But that just isn’t the way He usually works.

The Christian life is all about faith. The book of Hebrews defines faith succinctly and unforgettably: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). I love this verse, as it is a powerful reminder that God is at work even in those times where we don’t see it or can’t feel it. Everything ultimately comes down to trust.

This is such a great comfort when I’m in a season where it feels hard to hold on. It means that when God calls me to do something, I don’t have to wait for all the “signs” to align. I must step out in obedience and act on His calling. This is important. As James 2:17 reminds us, faith without action is dead. Our faith must keep moving forward, even when we don’t see the future clearly or feel a spark of internal confirmation that we are doing the right thing. Often, we need to follow for the kingdom’s sake even when the final result isn’t in view.

The promise that strengthens me as I walk the path of faith is the one found in Jeremiah 29:11: “ ‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (niv). Our hope for the future isn’t based on the wisdom and efficacy of our own plans, but upon God’s. He knows us better than we know ourselves—and He understands our thoughts, feelings, and fears. He works in all the circumstances of our lives in order to stretch us, bend us, purify us, and refine us. He has plans for us. Sometimes, however, those plans will take us through the fire.

If you want to produce a fine wine, you must crush and press and filter the grapes before you can extract what is inside them. God takes us through a process not unlike what the grapes go through. His goal is to transform us from dusty old grapes hanging around on a vine into an invigorating and intoxicating witness for Him.


God was continuing to work with me. My relationship with Kim was relatively healthy, but sometimes my insecurities and guilt would flare up once again and create problems for us. I had not really dealt with the regrets and shame of my past, and I often was tormented by a nagging voice of guilt. I didn’t want to burden Kim with my issues, so I wouldn’t really talk much about what was going on inside me. The result was that I kept cycling through periods of massive insecurity and self-doubt and shame, and this always had a detrimental effect on us as a couple. It was exhausting and confusing.

The way Kim continued to respond to me is evidence of what an amazing person she is. She knew when she married me that I was pretty messed up in a lot of ways. She understood what she had signed up for when she had said yes to our marriage. But even with all her patience, I think she finally began to get tired of dealing with all my unhealthy cycles of emotional struggle. Still, she never demanded that I go see a counselor or tried to manipulate or pressure me in any way. On the other hand, she had no hesitation about calling me out when I needed a strong dose of the truth.

Even as my musical aspirations took shape, I was still a mess inside. I was totally excited about the doors that were opening, but I was also a scared and insecure little child inside who didn’t believe I deserved this success and who couldn’t fully feel confident in my gifts. Holding the contract for a record deal in my hand, I was happy. At the same time, I was assaulted by the persistent inner voices of doubt. If people knew who you really were inside, they wouldn’t love or respect you, they whispered. And, You’re a phony. You’re not authentic. Who are you to represent God? I couldn’t just ignore the voices, for I was convinced that there was a lot of truth in these words.

When it looked like things were starting to come together in my life and career, I was so overcome by self-doubt that I felt almost suicidal. It was hard to move forward when I was dragging so much emotional baggage along behind me. The voices were getting to be more than I could handle. So I finally did what I had needed to do for so very long.

One day, driving home, the emotions started churning to the point where I thought I was going to snap. Then the inner voices started in again. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was just exhausted.

I recognized I was at some sort of crossroads. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I needed to be healed in my heart and soul. I pulled into the driveway at home, switched off the engine, put my head down against the steering wheel, and started weeping. Between my sobs I managed to put together a prayer: “Jesus, please fix me. I need you to break through the madness inside me. I need You to expose the lies and help me understand the truth about how You think about me. I need to know that You are my Dad and I’m Your son. I don’t care what it looks like, and I don’t care what it feels like. Jesus, please, do whatever You need to do to heal me.”

My prayer wasn’t eloquent, but it expressed the deepest desire of my heart: to be changed. I knew that I couldn’t fix myself. I had tried for years. I’d attempted to ignore what I was feeling and push it all down inside. I’d mustered all the strength within me to resist the voice of the Enemy. I’d hoped things would just get better on their own. But now I was doing what I should have done so long ago—lay all my brokenness at His feet and trust Him to fix me.

I can’t tell you I was completely changed in an instant, but God really did something in my heart at that very moment. He reached down deep into my brokenness and began the process of piecing me back together. I had opened up to Him with a completely honest invitation for Him to do “whatever it takes,” and He had accepted that invitation.

But honestly, I don’t think I was fully prepared for what that might mean.