There is a park in town that I like to run at. It has an outer loop that is about 1 mile long. I am a distance runner so even on my short runs I run at least 3 miles, so I must do the loop multiple times. One time after a week of being sick and trying to ease back into my running routine I decided to go for a 3-mile run. As I was running the first loop about a 3rd of the way through you can spot a lamp post that marks the end of the 1-mile loop. I spotted it and thought to myself almost there and didn’t give it a second thought. The second time around my legs started to become more sore, perhaps from taking time off and having just been sick or it could have been the new shoes I was wearing, at any rate when I made it back to that same spot I gave the lamp post a little more thought, I knew I could make it, I have been running for 10 years and I know when I can finish; however, the lamp post looked further away than it once did. By the 3rd time around my body was giving me big signals that it was time to stop. I kept going. When I made it to the turn where you can see the lamp post it was the first time when I was uncertain, I could make it. It looked miles away and my body was telling me to quit. What once was an object I barely noticed was now a symbol of me losing faith in myself. The distance was the same, I was the same person, only circumstances had changed in my body, making all the difference in the world. I am bipolar which to oversimplify it, I have good days and bad days. On my good days I have all the faith in the world that I can finish that day without any issues or concerns. On my bad days I am the same person but all the circumstances in my brain changes and it makes me see everything like I have been running for miles and the finish line is beyond my reach. I lose faith. That is what Andy Stanly calls circumstantial faith. While I have a mental issue that may magnify my emotional ups and downs, I don’t think my issues are singular to people with bi-polar. Everyone goes through dark times when they question their ability to make it through. But just as my faith diminished with every lap that I would finish, does your faith diminish when you are walking through dark times? I’ll be honest, mine does at times.
There is a scene in “The Days of Future Past” where Charles is talking to himself in the future and is past self sees the destruction of what is to come unless something changes. I have never been able to talk to my future self in reality but sometimes I think we all imagine what our future holds and its in the dark times when we do this that can be extremely dangerous, because we often magnify whatever pain or circumstance that we are currently in. We project ourselves with limited knowledge and try and see the future. It’s a very dangerous thing to do. In the case of the movie the future Charles says something simple yet powerful, he says “Just because someone stumbles and loses their way doesn’t mean their lost forever. Sometimes we all need a little help.” In our dark times we often lose sight of the help that is available to us, if only we ask.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” I just so happen to be a first-class guide of those valleys. Not only have I walked through them, but I drag others along with me. Being bi-polar means having manic episodes and during mine they are full blown destruction to anyone who is close to me. The worst thing about those episodes is you end up hurting the people you love more than yourself. So, when the smoke clears, I’m left not only with the devastation of my creation usually financial or job related, but also the guilt of what I have done. It is extremely hard to see how I am going to make it to that lamp post, heck, sometimes I don’t even see the lamp post. But those are past days. Looking back at my life I have leaned more about life walking through those times that at any other points in my life. I think Steven Furtick says it best that during the times you walk through the valley of shadow of death is when can strengthen your faith the most.
David said that he had faith when Walking through dark times is scary. I can’t say that I don’t fear it at times. I’m reminded of a scene from The Good Dinosaur, where the father is trying to get his son to walk through a dark field, but the son was scared. The father knew however, there was nothing to fear the things that looked scary turned out to be beautiful in the end. The father says, “Sometimes you have to get through your fear to get to the beauty on the other side.”
Steven Furtick also says that “Faith does not eliminate the distraction; it shifts the attention. Our distractions can be plentiful when walking through dark places. I know my distractions are my failures. I have plenty to see, but its my choice to shift my attention to something else. There is only one thing that you can shift your attention to that won’t be circumstantial faith, and that is the love of Jesus Christ. Neither angles nor demons, neither the past nor the future, nothing can separate you from the love that is in Christ Jesus. If you have faith in that and the promise that he died for our sins, it will not keep you from dark times, but it will rescue you mentally if you let it.