|This is an ent. Read to find out why he's here.|
See, it's easy for me to give into "escaping" for a while - esp. since I don't use drugs or alcohol for escapism, so I can justify that there is nothing wrong with what I'm doing. My favorite way of escaping is actually to pick up a good young adult romance to read (these are clean romances, unlike Harlequin style romances). Seems harmless, right?
So I escape into another world for a while, and all's good, except for the fact that I'm ignoring my family for hours at a time. (I've heard Blaze sometimes grumble to the other kids - "don't bother Mom, she's reading and it makes her grumpy"). (The grumpy part comes when they dare to interrupt me).
The other problem is when the book ends. I'm ejected from my escapism back into reality and things are even more stressful now because of my procrastination. It offers temporary relief from depression, but like any sort of substance abuse, when the temporary relief is over, you're in worse-off shape than ever.
With the winter months arriving - the season my depression kicks in - I was still searching for a verse that I could use to fight the temptation to run away from responsibility and even from communication. One of the very last lessons in Beth Moore's study "Breaking Free" finally provided the verse I was searching for - and it was a very familiar verse I've loved for years. But Beth actually dug into the Hebrew words behind this verse and shared some new insights about it that cast it in a whole new light for me.
Isaiah 40:31 Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they rise up on wings as eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.
The word "hope" in this verse is qawah in Hebrew and it means "to bind together (by twisting)... to be gathered together, be joined; to meet; to lie in wait for someone; to expect... to be confident, trust; to be enduring." She suggested re-reading the verse and inserting these synonyms in the place of the words "hope in."
She says "I believe Isaiah 40:31 is telling us to wrap ourselves so tightly around God that we end up automatically going where He's going."
"Why does Isaiah present the concept of binding ourselves to God in context with being weary and faint? Think about the illustration of the game my children and I played [they'd each grab onto her leg and hang on while she dragged them around the house]. Who did most of the work? I did! What was their part in the game? Binding themselves to me and hanging on tight. Do you see the parallel? When we start feeling weary, like stepping out of the way for a while, we're probably taking on too much of the battle ourselves."Now I will preach this verse to myself when I'm overwhelmed and wanting to shut down, to avoid doing the work I know I need to do - putting it off. Do I need the strength to do it? No - all I have to do is grab hold of God and hang on, letting him carry me along.
In real life this translates to saying the verse and focusing my thoughts on Him. Picturing myself hanging on to God's leg. Since he's my spiritual Daddy, this is perfectly okay. (God's leg is like a slender but strong tree trunk. That moves. Sort of like an ent, like in the picture above). (At other times I picture God quite differently, less leaf and more light!)
I do this instead of picking up some fiction to "escape" from my world for a while. Sometimes I have to say the verse over and over again, sort of arguing with myself. But gradually the battle turns to my side; I start to feel relieved, my stress lightened, my overall mood shifting from frustration and despondency to peacefulness. While I'm being dragged along by God through making dinner, spending time with the kids, helping with homework, etc (instead of dragging myself through)- my attitude begins to improve.
Am I cured?
No! So far I've only remembered to fight escapism a couple times this way. More often, I forget. (It's so much easier to pick up a book). It's not even the roughest time of year yet, the worst of my depression kicks in during February and March.
But the solution is there, if only I remember to grab hold of it and hang on.
And that's what I'm thinking the crux of the whole Christian life is. Remembering that we have a Savior, that He is ready and willing to rescue us, time and time again, if only we reach for Him and grab hold.