You are Always on God’s Mind. Even When You Feel Unworthy. 

13613312_10154379036998594_177577230423965412_oThe Miracle of Childbirth
I’ve been right by my wife’s side as all four of our children were born. I’ll never forget those first few thoughts as each came into the world:

  • Jathan Scotte Maricelli, II – August 12, 2009
    “Scotty” was our first child and I was just awestruck at the miracle of life.
  • Hayden Drew Maricelli – August 28, 2011
    Hayden was all scrunched up and messy. Okay, I’ll say it. He was ugly. I was perplexed at how an infant transforms from ugliness to cuteness in such a short time.
  • Colbie Grace Maricelli – October 4, 2014
    Colbie scared me because she didn’t make a sound when she was born. She hadn’t stayed in the birth canal long enough and still had “stuff” in her trachea. The doctor and nurses had to rush her to the lamp bed and work on her a bit to coax out that first cry. So, yeah. I was a tad anxious.

Each birth of our children was unique. Each was miraculous. Each was transcendent. Only one made me cry. That was Anders’.  

Tracy Morgan and I
In 2014 Tracy Morgan was involved in a harrowing automobile accident that almost claimed his life. Although the comedian lived through the crash, he lost a lot:

  • His close friend and mentor James McNair died in the crash.
  • He was in a coma for two weeks.
  • He had to learn to walk again.
  • He suffered head trauma that caused headaches, nosebleeds, and memory loss.  
  • He sunk into bouts of depression.
  • He doubted his ability to ever perform comedy again.

In his first interview many months after the crash The Today Show’s Matt Lauer asked him how he was getting through his depression.

Morgan replied, “I love comedy and I wonder how I’m ever going to be funny again. Remembering my identity. What do I do?”

Although I’ve not dealt with the degree of trauma that Tracy Morgan has, I can identify with that feeling of questioning your ability to make an emotional comeback. In fact, a year ago I wondered how I was ever going to preach again.

Will I Ever WANT to Preach Again?
I didn’t get into a car crash, but I did have a head-on collision with burnout. I also suffered some of the same emotional trauma. I detailed this experience in a previous blog post.

I sunk into depression. My heart was hard. I was angry. I just felt dead inside. I’ll never forget saying to my father on the phone, “Dad, do you think I’ll ever be okay again?” I honestly didn’t know if my heart would come back or not. It was hard to see how anything new would be able to grow inside of me again. I was a wasteland. 

If you’ve ever seen images of the Dust Bowl you will no doubt remember thousands of miles of dirt, barrenness, and poverty. One cause of the Dust Bowl was that farmers in the Great Plains region wore the soil out. They overplanted and over-harvested without allowing the soil to recover. After some years of this, the ground had nothing left to give and gave up. Just like my heart. 

The long hours, the failure, the isolation wore me out. The soil of my soul finally gave up and refused to produce life.  

This is why I wondered how I would ever preach again. I’m not talking about preaching out of some kind of obligation or duty. I’m talking about WANTING to preach again – wanting to preach because of the fire that burns inside of you. Preaching from this place is the only kind worth delivering and the only kind worth hearing.

New Life
To believe in Jesus is to believe in resurrection. Not only was Jesus raised from the dead, but he also brings life to those of us that believe in Him. He resurrects us from the spiritual death of sin. And I’ve discovered over the past fifteen months that He also resurrects dead things in our souls.   

The rehabilitation of my soil has been a painful process but I’m starting to see green all over the place. It’s starting to get exciting. Each new leaf unfolds a new ray of hope for the future.  

In other words, I feel like I’m back inwardly. I’m not dead inside anymore. I feel again. And when I preach, it’s because I WANT to.

That’s why I cried when Anders was born.

Surprise
Our third child, Colbie, was the daughter that we wanted to balance out our two wild boys. Three beautiful children left us feeling plenty grateful, fulfilled, and tired. She completed our family. Or so we thought. Which is why I was surprised when Sarah shoved a positive pregnancy test in front of my face barely nine months ago. How could this happen? Anders was one of those classic examples of life finding a way.

But while Anders might have been a surprise to us, he was definitely no accident. There were two signs that confirmed just how “on purpose” he was.

Sign #1: The night before Sarah told me she was expecting I had a dream in which we had a fourth child. I told Sarah about that dream when I woke up and mumbled something along the lines of “Could you imagine the chaos? Thank God THAT’S not going to happen”

Sign #2: Our desperate search for a house never revealed a single three bedroom that we could afford. God, for some reason known only to Him, gave us a four bedroom that we could afford.  

Once we got past the initial shock, therefore, it became wonderfully obvious that Anders was a special gift from God.

That’s why I cried when Anders was born.

July 28, 2016 – 5:49 a.m.
As with my first three children, I’ll never forget that first moment of Anders’ birth. Not only did I hear Anders’ little infant cry, I heard the voice of God.

This is what He said:

Anders is my gift of life to you…even in a dead season, I’m with you…and I’m for you. 

I can’t say that I’ve ever felt more favored, more humbled, or more grateful in my life.    

This is why I cried when Anders was born.

You’re Coming Back
So if you feel dead…you just might be. Which is why precisely why Jesus defeated death, hell, and the grave. Believe that you can come alive inside and produce beauty again. Because you can.

I’m a witness.

And so is Anders.

 

What about you? Have you ever experienced a season of deadness? Did you come back? What was your catalyst?

I’m interested to hear your story in the “comments” section below.

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