Do you remember that part in The Matrix where Neo had to choose between the red pill or the blue pill? Well that was where I was in that hotel in the middle of nowhere–both figuratively and actually. I had to make a choice on whether I wanted to sleep or stay awake. While driving I had taken some No-Doz that lasted about 45 minutes before I almost passed out at the wheel. Now I was in this hotel room with sleeping pills trying to decide if it was worth trying them to get some sleep. I had been exhausted when I got to the hotel room, but was restless when I hit the bed. I didn’t know what to do. Well that wasn’t exactly true. I knew what to do, but I didn’t want to do it–PRAY! I decided to take the sleeping pills. They did nothing. In frustration I got back on the road.
After some time, I started feeling “normal” again. I hadn’t eaten all day and thought that maybe some food would help settle me. At this point I had about 7 or so empty water bottles on my car floor. It was all I could seem to take in and no matter how much I drank, I still felt thirsty and didn’t have to go to the bathroom as much as one would think. The thought of food made me feel sick, but I decided to force myself to eat a burger. I puked in two bites. I was pissed. I felt like God was beating me down to make me pray. I wouldn’t even say grace. I’d rather starve.
A few more bottles of water later, I felt my muscles starting to spasm somewhat. It was kind of like I was having a people version of an earthquake. Someone later told me it was detoxing. I had consumed quite a bit of alcohol in those recent months and apparently my body was pushing it out. But at the time I don’t even think I knew what detoxing was, so it just added to my nightmare. But in retrospect, I think that what was making this road trip a nightmare wasn’t the physical and mental stuff I was experiencing, it was my stubbornness. In some remote part in my mind I knew that I was acting the fool and that I should just pray. But, I was looking for an enemy and I chose God because I thought He could handle it. Now to some people that would make no sense. They would say that the “devil” is the enemy. I don’t really like getting into those conversations, but let’s just say that to me the “devil” is a punk. He has no power whatsoever. Jesus proved that. No matter how crazy I was at the time, Jesus was still my homeboy. I just couldn’t relate to him at the time. I guess I chose to be mad at God, because I couldn’t understand why He created a world where Jesus would have to go out like he did. But it wasn’t really so much about Jesus as it was myself. I was nowhere in Jesus’ ballpark, but I wanted to be going in that direction and I felt like I had given it my best shot and failed. Once I got married, I thought I was all set for being a “good Christian Black man”. The real root of my anger was that it was so hard. I just didn’t get it.
As I continued to drive, I reflected on my situation trying to figure out how I got so far off track. You see, growing up, I have never been a guy that was easily swayed. I always had my own mind and never did stuff because people tried to pressure me. Not even my parents could make me do something I didn’t want to do. I would always consider the consequences of my actions before I did anything. If I felt like I could handle them I did the thing and if I couldn’t I didn’t. I also had a pretty strong sense of justice and knew what I was willing to die for and what was a waste of time and life. I knew that a lot of people had fallen for the world’s hype and I didn’t want any part of it. Honestly, I felt like the point of Jesus’ walk was to show us that if death had no power over life, then who could really threaten us. It seemed like after him the world would’ve gotten straight, but it seemed to be as wack as ever. For all those years, the foundation of my freedom was on what I believed he did, but I guess at that point, I started to feel like he just wasted his time. It was almost like no one really was paying attention to him. The world really didn’t seem to care. The strange thing was, it wasn’t the world that made me think that, it was the church.
Before I snapped, I had been going to church and when my wife and I first separated I went extra thinking it would help us get back together. But rather than make it better, it made it worse. I’m not blaming them, I’m just stating my experience. This is how it played out. I started doing what I intended to do in the Middle East–reading my Bible and praying like crazy. It didn’t take long before I started getting excited. I believe in resurrection so I felt like it was nothing for God to use this space to make my wife and I stronger and we’d be straight. Convinced of this, I started proclaiming that God had it and that I was going to just rejoice. I figured everyone would just say “Praise God!” and move on. But instead people were offended that I was not worried. I was told that I should be looking more upset and that having a smile on my face made it seem like I didn’t care. My reply was from Peter 5:6-7, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” But I was told that if I didn’t do more to make sure I didn’t get divorced then God was going to essentially turn his back on me.
Then next thing you know all of these people are prophesying over me. Someone said that they saw us back together with kids and someone else said that they saw me with another woman from church with 4 kids. In Bible study I was getting called out, because someone praying “knew I was hurting tonight and they wanted me to know what the Lord told them about me.” It was like they were trying to make me upset. I knew they had good intentions so I wasn’t tripping at first. But after a while I started getting annoyed, but more than that I was getting confused. In all my years with God, I had never been as vulnerable as I was in that time. And I guess I never really wanted or asked for much either. But now I was in this position where I was asking God to bring back my wife in ideal circumstances. It was kind of a big deal. Then on top of it, I was being told that if she didn’t come back then I was going to lose God too. In my heart, I didn’t believe God would do me like that, but the people telling me this were high up people in the church–even though the pastor actually never said anything like that.
Outside of church I had my other friends telling me that I needed to stop trying to be good all the time. It was crazy. A whole bunch of people started inviting me out and females I didn’t even know noticed me started warming up to me. Even in church, a few women told me the Lord told them that I was theirs. There was just so much coming at me from every direction that I finally said forget it. I decided to go out for one night. Everyone was so excited to see me out, that they all started buying me drinks. After that there was the blur that ended with me in the car driving back to AZ. A lot happened in between that time. But in the grand scheme of things I can’t say I did anything I regret. As I would learn on my drive, God is in everything and has dominion over absolutely everything. His Power is inconceivable using the world’s standards and you never know how He can leverage situations. A great example is Saul on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9) and for me it was DMX on the road to Arizona.
At somewhere between 12-15 bottles of water I decided to give sleep in a hotel room another shot. When I first got in there, I could tell that I was changing. My anger power was not as strong as it had been. The wack voices had pretty much stopped. Whenever one would try to come in, I would just shut it out. The Voice was doing His Silence thing and now all I had to do was make a choice. Would I sleep in the world and awake in God or would I do the opposite? I knew I had gone pretty far off track and there was a part of me that feared that God would call me a filthy rag and tell me get to steppin’. It wasn’t like I was someone who never knew God or what Jesus did. I knew and legitimately chose to go against what I knew and I was pretty sure I threw some other people off track too in the past few months. I thought that must be worse than a person who just never thought about it. Well there was only one way to find out. I got on my knees and prayed one of the worse prayers ever. It pretty much went like this, “Hey, I don’t know how I feel about You, but I will pray to You if You just will leave me alone for a little while and let me sleep.” He did.
Four hours later I woke up feeling like I had slept for years. I was completely refreshed and filled with some wild energy. I went up to go to the bathroom and in the mirror I saw something I hadn’t seen in months–my own reflection. I was more excited than a person that won the Powerball with their last dollar. I mean, I was through the roof happy. I was back! I had been lost, but now I was found. I was blind, but now I saw. Every good thing I ever knew about God and His Love for me was back in full effect. I was falling out in the hotel room like people I laughed at in church as a kid. I knew what they were so happy about. I caught the Holy Ghost. I was full of unspeakable joy. I was spinning in circles. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go back to sleep, but now it was for a whole new reason. I got back on the road. I had 19 more hours to go and I was ready. God and I had a lot of catching up to do.
As I took off the Silence spoke to me and I truly listened. It was like Elihu speaking to Job about God’s goodness and majesty in Job 36 and God breaking it down in Job 38-41. I had nothing to add. When it was all said and done, I had to admit as Job did in Chapter 42 Verse 5, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.” My repentance had begun and I started receiving the blessings that God is perpetually showering on us all.
For the rest of the trip my heart was ministered to about the Power of Love, Eternal Life, and who the Christ is. I’ll get into that in part 4, but for now I’ll leave you with this poem that captures the essence of what I learned.
To know Me
Tap into My Frequency
The Truth is in your face
But you don’t seem to see
The world you know
Isn’t what it seems to be
When the world calls you dirty
You are clean in Me
I know no darkness
I am One in Light
To know my Faith
You must lose your sight
No ear has heard
Nor eye hath seen
What is told in Silence
And beyond your dreams
To be continued…