It was the strangest voice mail I had ever received. As I sat there on the bed I listened as a very matter of fact female voice said, “John, this is blah, blah, of Dr. blah, blah’s office. Blah, blah and more blah’s and as you know, blah blah told you, you need to see a psychiatrist.”
And that was my introduction into psychiatric medicine.
However, the message caused me to laugh so I felt better already. And I knew she, the voice, was right.
Fast forward several days. On July 2nd of that year I entered into a very generic looking medical office building. I was immediately comfortable with my doctor. He was a soft spoken middle eastern gentleman, a semi-practicing Hindu. In fact, as I asked him about his faith and told him about mine I was glad I had found a non-christian doctor. I was bringing enough religion into the session for both of us. I told him I had been faithful to God, Christ and the church all my life and I did not know how to approach this challenge and I could not pray it away, wish it away or meditate it away. Nor could I mask it any longer. The years of covering it up had taken its toll.
The question I knew that was coming was in fact next. “Mr. Hembree, how do you feel?” I was ready for this. The previous few days had given me time to prepare for the answer. I handed him a piece of paper that was a copy of the first section of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri’s journey into hell. It read:
“Midway this way of life we’re bound upon,
I woke to find myself in a dark wood,
Where the right road was wholly lost and gone.”
The doctor sat back, looked at me and said, “Okay… I understand.” He knew where I was and God used this man to bring me back over time from a very dark place.
Each one of us, at some point will find ourselves in the middle of life awakened by the fact that the path is no longer clear. It looks right, but something is different, something has changed. The right path seems to be gone altogether.
Fortunately, not all are in need of a psychiatrist. But for those who are, it takes strength to face your weaknesses and recalculate your path. For others, it is simply a matter of stopping, evaluating your surroundings and saying, “God, this does not look right to me, where are you?” I can assure you your “awakening” has not caught God by surprise. He knows the path He has you on. He will keep you safe all the way through until you can once again see daylight. And he will remind you of his presence possibly in the same manner he did me. By committing Psalm 139:7-8 to memory I was reminded:
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven You are there; if I make my bed in hell, there Your love will find me.”
What a comforting promise of Hope for any of us in this life. There Your love will find me.