From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Saturday, April 19, 2014

There are Deep Dark Woods

At the ranch there are thirteen heavily wooded acres right up front.  One of my greatest pleasures is to take a good sharp shovel, (in case of encountering a snake,) and going to explore there. However, even though I have lived here almost seven years, I still get turned around, even momentarily lost in those woods in the summer when it is more difficult to see landmarks, because of the dense green foliage.  

This fence separates the horse pasture and the woods.  Animals of some kind keep a little trail down the fence line so that it can be navigated to the center of the woods where you can enter the woods at a place where the brush is relatively low.

Yesterday I took my camera and went across the creek on the little bridge I built and headed toward the woods to photograph the Japanese irises that grow wild in the woods.  I also wanted to capture some more beautiful flowers I had seen the day before when I went with Randy to the woods.  Randy carries the shovel and watches for snakes when he goes with me, and he has excellent land navigation skills.  Not so much so myself, but that didn't worry me... until I got so turned around I could not tell which direction I was headed...

The woods can look really scary when you realize you are lost!  
There are big dead broken trees in woods!

I have noticed in others and experienced myself that sometimes in life we wind up in deep dark woods of one kind or the other.  We sometimes just strike out on our own with a plan or maybe without a plan, and find ourselves lost.  Sometimes too in life we may follow someone who claims to know where they are going, and unlike my Randy, they don't, and we find ourselves not only lost, but lost with someone else in tow who doesn't have a clue. 

Of course I am speaking of figurative "deep dark woods," the kind in literature which symbolize dark days of our lives.  Depression comes to the great and the small at one time or another in life.
Those kinds of days are described by David and others in the Bible.  David was a "man after God's own heart."  He was a great warrior, loved and idolized by many, and hated and hunted by others, such as King Saul, whom David remained loyal to, until the day he died. David offered his services in good faith to King Saul, served him very well and with honor, but King Saul became jealous of his popularity with the people, and hatred and envy rose up in his heart.

At one point in Psalms 38, David expressed the following state of mind in himself.

 6. I am bowed down and brought very low;
    all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain;
    there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
    I groan in anguish of heart.
All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
    my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;
    even the light has gone from my eyes.

David found himself at the time of this writing in scripture, depressed because of sin in his life, wrong doing for which he was being convicted of by God, and that can be the reason for depression in a person's life.  David loved God and when the conviction of God brought the depression of guilt, he did exactly what he should have, and his prayer asking God's forgiveness is recorded in the Bible in Psalms 5l.
Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart

At times in life depression comes not because of our own wrong doing, but for any number of things completely outside of our own control or influence.  There are so many reasons and circumstances that they could never all be listed, but a broken heart can come from the loss of loved one, catastrophic injury or illness, war, or even simply chemical imbalances in the brain.  God does have the answers for all kinds of depression, and as I have come to understand personally from experiencing, and watching others experience, when you are lost in the deep, dark woods, God is there with you, and promises if you trust Him, He will lead you out.  Proverbs 3 offers these verses of promise from God.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

God gives instruction on how to get a handle on depression 
when it threatens your life in Philippians 4:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 
 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
God also gives us instruction concerning avoiding depression when trouble comes knocking in our lives, when we find ourselves lost in the deep dark woods of life...  It is found in 2 Corinthians 4.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 
persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  
10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 
11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 
12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 
14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 

That is the ultimate hope found in what we celebrate 
every day in Christ Jesus, but especially at Easter!

If you find yourself lost this Easter season in the deep dark woods... 
He is there with you, look around, call out to Him, He will lead you out.