I must admit, I can get depressed (big surprise to you that know me, right!)
I start mulling over this and worrying over that and weighing my worth and value and when I get all finished calculating my current situation in life, I am approaching that wonderful threshold of being fully and completely depressed -- just plain down and contemplating what 'out' looks like!
Depression for me has always been that feeling of complete emptiness compounded by a sense of a great weight pressing down, trying to crush me like an empty coke can. Oh and did I mention the darkness? Should have, because the empty, crushed feeling is always accompanied by the 'light' going out. I just lose the brightness in my life -- the hope and expectation.
The other morning I was sitting on our patio telling God all about my current state of depression and how hopeless everything seemed when the following verse popped into my head...
I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest. John 12:24 Amplified Bible (AMP)
And then it came to me...
This may feel like depression, but if I looked at it from another point of view -- say God's -- this is what it feels like to be planted!
I am a seed! I'm alone, it's dark and I feel the weight of the dirt on top of me, pressing me down. And which way is up, by the way? (This is important since I need to spout that way one of these days!) And then there is the reality that I have within me all that is required to bud, grow and bring forth an abundant harvest.
I just need to trust the process!
Funny what a different perspective will do for you! Instead of seeing my situation from underneath the ground, I can now see it from the perspective of the one who has sown me in expectation that I won't remain alone, but that I will yield a rich harvest to his glory. In the end, his expectation is that I will realize all the purpose that he intended and created me for.
What is ironic is that I am constantly crying out to God that he would cause me to abound, be fruitful, and be a blessing to others with meaning and significance. And,unapparent to me, God answers my prayer and I get 'planted'...and immediately freak out and get depressed. This is doubly ironic since God has to do this planting every season of our lives so that we might abound in fruitfulness and that our fruit might remain -- and you would think I would have learned this lesson by now.
So what can I learn from this?
It's just dirt! When I feel the emptiness and the pressure and the darkness, I need to hold on to the fact that God has not abandoned me, I am not worthless, and I am not alone. Rather, what is happening to me is just the soil that is necessary for something new, vital and fruitful to come forth in my life. It's just dirt, not concrete meant to bury me forever! It can be penetrated when the time is right and I can rest in the reality that I will come forth into the light when God has perfected what is necessary in me -- if I am just willing to trust and wait for his perfect timing.
Keep reaching up. Have you ever wondered how a seed knows which way is up? It's not like the sower has taken the time to orient the seed so that the sprout goes up and the roots go down naturally! The seed gets thrown in a hole and covered with dirt. But there is something in the seed that 'instinctively' knows which way is up. It reaches to the light, knowing that it is the key to life. So too, we have within us a spiritual orientation that is upward. Paul says, 'seek those things that are above..." He couldn't encourage that if we didn't know which direction was 'above'. The fact is, since we have the Spirit of God in us, we have the 'helper' we need to orient us in the right direction. We just need to allow the Spirit to do its work and then respond by continuously reaching up to God throughout the growing season!
Send roots down. There is no value for the sprout to seek the light if it is not firmly anchored by a root system that can support its journey to fruitfulness. In Ephesians 3:17 Paul calls it being "rooted and grounded in love" and it is conditional on "Christ dwelling" in our hearts by faith. This to me is just so fundamental and yet something that I tend to minimize in my 'efforts' to grow. I want to do things. I want the reinforcement of seeing progress. I want the tangible satisfaction of seeing fruit. And yet God is saying it is about Christ dwelling, taking up residence, having an increasing space in my affections. It is not about doing more...it is about loving him more, and trusting him more, and appreciating him more! That's how the roots go down, so the plant can grow up and bear fruit.
We need to be convinced that fruitfulness is what God intends for each and every one of us. That fruit takes various forms, and it is certainly not limited to preaching the gospel or seeing folks saved! Instead, it encompasses every aspect of our lives and every way in which we touch and influence the lives of those around us. If we are to realize God's intention of fruitfulness, we ultimately need to trust the husbandman,the planter of the seeds. If you are feeling lonely and dark and 'depressed', remember it's just dirt and God is wanting to get a new harvest of magnificent fruit in your life.