Ministry Through ‘Da Mud: Repost

getting down and dirty
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{I wrote this several years ago, during a season of God-deliverance from my depressive symptoms…yet in the midst of my levity, He had me briefly revisit the darkness. This, the upside of suffering: you’re primed for Divine usage, as you slog through the mud with a fellow sufferer, able to ooze empathy. Much has transpired since, but I keep my gaze fixed on my Deliverer, whatever muddy places He requires me to revisit…”Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” James 1:2 NIV}

Stuck.

It felt like I might never climb my way out. For 15 years, the muddy waters of depression had me like quicksand, and wouldn’t give way. The more I struggled, the more stuck I became. And that inescapable slime permeated me in every way. It clouded my vision. It made me sluggish. It snuffed out my joy. The real “me” became a distant memory, shrinking to nothingness in the rearview mirror. It was misery, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

But as reality would have it, there are others. And I know now that they, precious, and stuck, are God’s reasons for my muddy captivity.

In God’s perfect plan–slowly and steadily, to give me time to process–He orchestrated my healing. The miraculous happened—to ME!! God took my slimy hand, pruney from my years in the mud, and pulled me out of that dreadful, viscous mess, that I might glorify Him through the sharing of my story. It has been surreal and rich; my post-mud experience.

We have a Rescuer, and when He sweeps in on His white steed, there is no denying His magnificience. I’m honored to have done time in the mud, only to have been dramatically rescued by the Hero of all heroes…and have the privilege of proclaiming, Only God. Only He can bring new life from the muddy death, and regenerate that life in another; a beautiful result of our story shared.

But once in a while, God requires me to revisit the mud. With my feet dragging, He ushers me back there like the Ghost of Christmas Past, to remind me where I’ve been. Never to the extent of my previous entrapment…but just enough to keep me humble–to keep the memory of my years in the muck fresh. Because it’s in the freshness, however uncomfortable, that I can best help others stuck in that hopeless place.

People who have never been stuck in the mud don’t get it, bless their hearts. People like my husband. He enjoys roaring at our mischievous, dirt-loving West Highland White Terriers when we take them on walks: “Get out ‘da mud!” During my depressive mud-puddle wallow—and always with the best of intentions-–he uttered many a like plea, desperately wishing I would just snap out of it.

muddy westie
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Similarly, we who celebrate deliverance from the mud can forget, in our euphoria, just how it felt. This may sound blissful after years of suffering, but it’s not much help to those still stuck and flailing, is it?

Just a year ago, I sat in a friend’s backyard, holding her hand and watching her tears fall into the mental mud encompassing her, holding her fast in its sucking grip. I marveled inwardly at how strange it was: I couldn’t remember exactly how it felt. For the life of me, I couldn’t get back to that wretched place I had done the same struggling; that had been my reality for years. So then and there, I asked God to help me remember. I’ll admit, sometimes I wish I could take those words back. Because He delivered. He brought me back–to the yuck of STUCK. And I haven’t enjoyed one minute of it.

But God knew what was needed, in all His mighty knowingness. It’s all been worth it, and for a divine purpose I’ve come to embrace. That I may never implore a fellow wallower to “Get out ‘da mud!” Because it’s simply not that easy. In fact, it’s an impossibility when someone is depressed.

A word of caution (in other words, don’t do what I did): don’t deceive yourself in your victorious deliverance, and go into post-mud panic-mode at the first taste of your former life. Even though our particular muddy places may be gloriously behind us, we still make our homes in this imperfect world, scarred by the fall. Though healed of my affliction, I still have to deliberately choose joy when I get up each morning, and throughout the day, as life deals its blows. I (strive to) consider it pure joy, because it keeps me ever dependent on My Creator, and relatable to others.

God can use your time in the mud, too. Whatever your experience, whatever muddy mess you’ve waded through and emerged victorious, He can use it to testify of His greatness. But keep in mind that the effectiveness of your ministry is contingent on how vivid your mud-splattered memories are. Keep them fresh, while celebrating your liberation—as a testament of how far God’s brought you, so you can recall them during that divine appointment, when He calls upon you as a vessel for His good work in someone else’s life.

He alone knows what we need. Let’s live beyond ourselves, surrendering to His will in our lives, even when it involves revisiting the dreadful, muddy places we’ve been, from which He’s redeemed us. He’ll use these returns to increase our ministries…to lend greater weight and light to our stories. The Almighty knows: no one knows the mud like a former captor.

Come to the River…

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4 (Message)

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Personalize…

What has God brought you through–what testimony have you attained, that He can repurpose for good in another’s life? Be on the lookout for fellow wallowers!

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