“There’s an insane person yelling at the top of his lungs at 3:30am!” – Neighbor: Oct. 31
“LORD, I CAN’T MOVE! I CAN’T SPEAK.! I CAN’T EVEN BREATHE! What do you want me to do with this!?” – Braden’s dad: Oct. 31 5:30am
“God simply wants you to give up and allow Him to use you. He loves you and I love you, Dad… see you soon.” – Braden
With two kids who I helped bring into the world, I’m constantly thinking about my own youth, in perspective with theirs. Mine had it’s trials but for today’s teens, it’s extraordinarily difficult. Not sure I could do it. As an adult, I roll out of bed every so often and think, “Why? How long can I do this?” It’s interesting and somehow comforting to know most humans, if they were honest, think this from time to time.
We all face the drudgery of the daily grind, schedules, demands, and “stuff” in our daily lives. It often feels like we’re fighting an unending battle. I’ll be honest and admit I feel that way. Not always, but sometimes. I certainly know that’s the way our son, Braden felt much of his life. We sincerely believe he would have been a mighty warrior for God’s Kingdom, an overcomer. Sadly, he became a fallen warrior, far too early.
Think about this. When do armies decide to give up and surrender to the enemy? Soldiers and their leaders exhaust every human effort feasible. They use brilliant strategies, military tools, and battle tactics. Too often they even lay down their their own lives for the sake of success.
But when do they decide to surrender? I submit that it’s only when they finally come to the realization they are simply defeated, and there is no other option but to quit.
That’s where I was at 5:30am October 31, 2018.
Throughout the night I sat on the stoop outside Braden’s room just so I could feel like I was there with him somehow. I felt he shouldn’t be alone while complete strangers worked in his room upstairs. He was gone, but still it was important as his dad to be there. Isn’t that what dads do?
I literally have never heard sounds emit from my mouth as they did throughout those eight hours sitting in the dark. I yelled at God in anger. I yelled at the kids I never met, who we had prayed would come into his life. I screamed at the teachers and the schools I felt had failed him. And I yelled at myself.
More tears were shed in those few hours than all my years combined. When I finally ran out of tears for a moment and as the dawn was just beginning to break, I took a deep breath. I was completely exhausted in every way. Then… immediately rain began to gently sprinkle on my head. The timing was like a thing out of a fictional story but it was real. I’d run out of tears and Heaven had taken over.
I distinctly recall saying aloud, “God…what do you want me to do with this?” Then I released all my muscles and fell into a fetal position saying, “I give up. I surrender. I know I’ve told you that before, but I literally can’t move another muscle or even continue to breathe unless You do it for me. I want to hand over control of this weak and flawed vessel. Use my brain to think and my legs to walk. Use my heart to feel and my voice to speak. You made me so you’re probably better suited to effectively use me.” Then, the sprinkles turned into rain. It rained all day long that Halloween day. It was a gentle yet steady downpour.
I had finally surrendered.
Growing up, we attended church regularly. First Baptist Church of Brownfield. We had the old hymnals and they were worn thoroughly. The songs were traditional, unlike today. Being a typical boy, I wouldn’t sing. But I listened. I recall the hymn, “I Surrender All”. Back then, it was just another old hymn with too many verses. Not anymore.
Like many of those hymns, they have come to mean much more to me now, having fought the battles of life for some time. I realize God speaks through a variety of mediums. Hymns are just one. Now, He also speaks through me, however only when I truly surrender ALL of myself to His Will.
Parents, Ministers, and other Warriors
Here is where we usually try to share some insight so readers might have some tools, action plans, or strategies. Something perhaps to impact the world where they do battle. Folks, I don’t really have any better strategy at this point but to offer my honest testimony and encourage you to surrender if you haven’t already.
Throw in the towel. Give up. You simply can’t win. We can’t impact depression and suicide in our own power. Believe me, if we could put that in a bottle or a pill, it would have already been done long ago, and it would cost more than anyone could afford.
Ironically, the only solution is free and only needs to be requested. I’ve come to clarity that the one and only way to win our earthly battle is to give up and surrender control to our Creator. I hope parents and churches will come together to bring God’s children to this conclusion sooner rather than later.
All to Jesus I surrender. All to Him I freely give. I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.
All to Jesus I surrender. Humbly at His feet I bow. Worldly pleasures all forsaken.
Take me, Jesus, take me now, I surrender all. I surrender all. All to Thee my blessed Savior.
I surrender all.
Prayer: Lord, we pray as we have since first we began writing over every person who reads these imperfect words inspired through your Holy Spirit. We pray for those who are feeling defeated to surrender not to the enemy, but rather to their Creator. Re-Create in us all a life worth living in abundance of your presence and assurance. We also pray over every fallen warrior in this earthly battle and for those left behind to move forward one day at a time. Thank you for taking over my life and I ask that You keep me out of my own way that You may be eternally glorified. Amen.
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