I am not sure why so often we have to go to rock bottom in someway or other before we discover God, or before we experience His help and touch in a fresh way. It is not mandatory! Sometimes over the years I have seen people preventing a family member or just someone they care about from reaching there, but there are times when actually stepping in can stop a person coming to a place of reality they need to come to. There are times when the descent seems to need to happen before a person “comes to themself” like in the story of the Prodigal Son and faces truth. We can discover God on the heights of joy and thankfulness as well as in the depths or indeed anywhere inbetween, and we need to remember that. However, finding God at rock bottom is a common experience.
The thing is, we cannot pretend to have reached that point. I’ve tried to pretend I am there when I have almost been there because of some issues or circumstances, but you can’t fool God by using the right words! Equally and sadly I have seen people bringing great torment and degradation upon themselves and harming those around them and have thought, “Surely they cannot go lower than this” only to be proved wrong. They could indeed sink to a lower place still and did so. Sometimes in some circumstances over the years I have said to God “I can’t take any more of this.” Actually in all but one or two occasions I knew that wasn’t true! On the one or two occasions when it was true and I genuinely was at the place of being able to take no more, He really did step in to show Himself as Almighty God. What He did was so fearful and dramatic on those occasions that I can hardly tell you about it. If I did tell you about it, well, it just would not come across right. Suficient to say I have discovered that God takes His own Word seriously, when he says, “Touch not my anointed ones: do my prophets no harm!“ (Psalm 105 verse 15.) He always remains faithful to the values of His own word.
God knows when we are mouthing the words, “Lord, I am at rock bottom” and when we really mean that – even without using the words.
I found a prayer in my notebook which I had copied down, probably a year or two ago, but sadly did not write the source of it. I felt I was to simply pass it on in this blog. Please don’t rush to reassure me as if this prayer is representative of where I am at this moment. Actually, at this moment, I am not at rock bottom, and hopefully many of you are not there either. I could not get away from this prayer though as I thought about today’s blog. It is specifically for those who have come to rock bottom concerning their own selves:
“Self importance? Self worthlessness? I’v covered both boxes today. In fact I’ve rounded them several times, and yes, they both have everything to do with me and nothing to do with you. I confess to you, Crucified One, that I’ve grown really tired of myself. Like a sponge that’s reached its limit, I’ve absorbed too much of myself: I can’t take any more. Yet, here in this bog of isolated alienation, You love me. Give me strength to let you love me. I really can’t take any more of myself.”
Spiritually this describes a place that is painful and yet holds such promise.
You might not need to pray this prayer today, but tuck it away; it may come in handy one day.
(Thank you to Brenda Robson who has written to say the prayer is from “Dear Abba, Morning and Evening Prayer” by Brennan Manning)
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