I had a really interesting adventure last night. I went to sleep in my bedroom as usual, and then three hours later (around midnight) I woke up hot, thirsty, cranky, and tired. I grabbed a can of sparkling water from the fridge, turned on the window air-conditioner in the living room, and slumped in the living room chair. When I realized it was impossible to sleep sitting in this uncomfortable chair, I grabbed a pillow and got down on the floor. The only problem was that I have hardwood floors and so that was even more uncomfortable than the chair. So I decided to get to more pillows to sleep on while I used the first pillow for my head. That wasn’t much better. Finally, I decided that if I was going to get any sleep at all I was going to have to drag my full-size mattress from my bedroom into my living room and sleep on that. When I finally got all settled in bed and was comfortably cool, I thought of my dog stuck in his crate in the hot, humid bedroom. When my guilt was too much to bear, I let him out so he could sleep on the bed with me. Since it was dark, he probably thought this was a new doggy bed that I bought for him and jumped onto the mattress happily.
Today however, when I pulled the mattress down for a little nap, Colby recognized it as the bed that he always has problems jumping on. Since he’s had hip surgery, leaping onto a high bed is always a challenge for him and he cowers from the bed whenever I call him up. Only when his desire for the bed overcomes his fear does he try to jump on, not always successfully. A few times he has crashed into the bed validating his fear. Well, the mattress was now on the floor, so all he had to do was to step on to it. No jumping, no leaping, no crashing was involved. In fact, he climbed on happily all last night. It amazed me how different today was for him. When I called him onto the mattress with me, he would cower just as he did when the mattress was 3 feet above ground. Then, after a few agonizing moments, he would leap frantically on the bed just like he did before I brought it on the floor. I shook my head in wonder. Then it struck me.
I have been doing the exact same thing when it comes to staying alive. My pastor once said to me, “It should not be that hard to stay alive.” At the time, I thought to myself, “Yeah, it isn’t hard for him because he doesn’t have to struggle with depression or suicide all the time. Of course it’s easy for him to stay alive.” He had said that I have been tricked into believing that staying alive is this huge, impossible task when it really isn’t that hard. While staying away from suicide may have been impossible prior to coming to Christ, the truth is when I received him as Lord, he has put the mattress on the floor. In other words, he has provided a way of escape as 1 Corinthians 10:13 says. He has done the hard/impossible part, and now all I have to do is to step into the mattress of his grace. There’s no jumping, leaping, striving, or crashing involved.
I realized that the deception is one of focus. If I can be tricked into believing that I must focus on not committing suicide, then I will inevitably commit the very thing I’m focused on. It’s like what my pastor said about people who constantly tell themselves that they will not be like their parents which dooms them to be like their parents because their parents are the object of their focus. Today as I was watching my dog stare at the mattress on the floor cowering, I realized that I was staring at the sinful temptation cowering as if it was some insurmountable obstacle when Jesus has brought it low and made it more than conquerable by his grace. When I take my focus off of the sin and place it on Jesus (which by the way, is exactly what praising him accomplishes) then I realize that he who is in me is indeed greater than he that is in the world. Then I can step effortlessly into the mattress of grace and rest in his arms.