Here (below) is a draft of the introduction to my upcoming devotional memoir, which I plan to publish this year. I would very much appreciate it, dear reader, if you would read it, share it friends (especially those with Bipolar) and let me know in the comments what you think. Thank you!
“No Escaping God”
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. (Psalm 139:7-8, NRSV)
I had the good fortune and the awful burden of growing up in a family that taught me the fear of the LORD. Though this fear was not always healthy (or especially Biblical), it did anchor me through rough waters and kept me growing in a love relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Since before my birth, God has been busy pursuing me. I’ve been allowed to stray yet I’ve always been kept within the view and range of God’s never-failing love.
We all experience ups and downs in life. With Bipolar Disorder, however, my highs have been dangerously high and my lows critically low. At both extremes, I have flirted with death – coming very close to ending my life and doing great damage to those around me in the process. For no good reason but the mercy of the LORD, God has kept me alive, saving me from certain destruction – emotional, physical, and spiritual.
Over the past 25 years of my often reckless life, the Psalms have helped me establish devotional balance.
As a chaplain, I recited Psalms in community each morning during prayer service.
In my quiet time, I’ve regularly read and reflected on the Psalms in writing.
In weekly worship, Psalms shine through the hymns and praise songs selected and sung.
On retreats, I’ve joined brothers and sisters in Christ as they’ve used the language of the Psalms to fill times of prayer or provide background to a sacred meal.
This book is a devotional memoir. Each section begins with a Psalm verse (or two) which then comes to life – to my life (and, I hope to yours), offering “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow” (as one great hymn puts it).
My purpose in writing this book is principally to give glory to God for bringing me through this crazy life no matter how much of a mess I make of it. I pray that the sometimes profane details of my life don’t cause you to stumble as you take a journey with me to discover the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
While I have written this with an eye toward the illness I share with almost 6 million American alone, my hope is that anyone who picks it up will find here words of encouragement to pass through your own personal Sheol and not become so caught up in your highest heavens such that you can’t function well on earth as a simple servant of God, in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.