For about 25 years, I was convinced that God didn’t have a lot of interest in me as an individual. This has changed. Now, quite frequently, God speaks to me.
OK…that’s not completely true…usually he whispers to me.
Sometimes I hear his “still, small voice” in my mind. But, I fear, more often than not, his voice gets lost in the constant noise of my life. It seems, when this happens, if he really wants me to get the message, I start noticing patterns and coincidences.
All week, I’ve prayed and pondered about what the topic of this post should be. And all week, no definitive whispers, but…I’ve been running into references to “Empty Houses” all over the place. So, lets see if something coherent can come of these disjointed thoughts…something that actually leads us back to our “Change of Heart” theme.
There’s too much info for one post among the “Empty House” references I want to talk about, so I’m making this a multi-part series.
Let’s start with this one:
“The lies we tell ourselves are the ghosts that haunt the empty house of midnight”–Gregory David Roberts
I’ve never really believed in ghosts and hauntings. However, I’ve lived for many years in the same house with some pretty devoted fans of the Ghost Hunters reality show. One house we lived in did have some pretty strange and spooky stuff happening (unexplained sounds and voices, windows and doors opening themselves, etc.). And I’ve taken a couple of pretty famous “ghost tours”…the best one being at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park Colorado (Stephen King’s inspiration for the ghost story in the book/movie The Shining).
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been a working musician for a huge part of my life, and I’ve had the opportunity to perform in some really cool places. One night (about 1:00 a.m.) while loading my music gear out of the grand ballroom after a wedding at the Stanley, I actually heard the “ghost music”–people report hearing an old-time big-band playing in the hotel’s bar, just like the closing scene in The Shining movie…SERIOUSLY CREEPY!!! When I heard it, I walked down the hallway from the ballroom to the bar–it was CLOSED! Nobody there, no recorded music playing, and the music stopped as I walked in!
Real or imagined…there’s some STRANGE stuff that goes on that I can’t explain, and it always tweaks my sense of reality just a bit when I experience it.
Stephen King once said in an interview that the best ghost stories take something from real life…something REAL, something TRUE…and twist it just a little bit to turn it into something fake that scares people. The closer it is to the truth, the more believable the story becomes, and the scarier it becomes in our minds. Let’s contrast this with the horror stories Satan tells us. Satan takes something from real life…often something that should frighten us…and twists it into something that appears to be REAL; an illusion of something TRUE and something good.
Anatomy of a real-life “haunting of the Empty House at midnight”:
Here’s how it worked in my life…see if this sounds familiar, either from your personal experience or the experience of an addicted loved one:
Somewhat early in my journey with alcoholism, I had many good things in my life, but life was not good. I remember chatting with a friend and mentioning that for some reason I just didn’t feel happy. She was agitated, in fact, almost indignant with me: “You have a beautiful house and a beautiful family. You ride motorcycles and horses. You travel all over Colorado playing rock and roll and you make good money doing it. You have an AWESOME job. You’re smart and healthy. For God’s sake… define viagra triangle acyclovir no script canada death child essays http://www.safeembrace.org/mdrx/cialis-vs-flomax-for-bph/68/ writing a call for papers http://ww2.prescribewellness.com/onlinerx/himcolin-gel-use-in-hindi/30/ does the thesis go in the conclusion pros and cons tv essay buy lasix for humans abilify assistance program https://online.bentley.edu/medschool/buy-generic-cialis-in-india/10/ levitra usa best prices apush essay outlines https://greenechamber.org/blog/leadership-research-paper/74/ refer to my resume technical writing agency crestor and pure garcinia cambogia lipitor sexdrive levitra heathrow https://simplevisit.com/telemedicine/how-to-get-viagra-from-your-dr/16/ cheap term paper writing service https://campuschildcare-old.wm.edu/thinking/thesis-topic-about-depression/10/ go to site how to write a research paper essay writing methods in english criminal law example essay cialis and dbol sat 4 essay sex.pakistan action verbs for a resume go follow WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO BE YOU??!”
The “smart and healthy” part was questionable, but the rest was true. I was a successful video effects and motion graphics artist with a promising career ahead of me. I had a wonderful wife and 4 beautiful daughters. We went on great weekend adventures (camping, fishing, hiking, swimming, etc.) on a regular basis. We had just purchased a beautiful home just a few miles outside of Boulder Colorado. I was actually in THREE popular local cover bands in the Denver area in addition to working with a talent pool that booked musicians for weddings in Denver, Aspen, Vail, Telluride, and Colorado Springs. At a glance, yeah, I had it ALL!
But…there was a “ghost haunting my empty house at midnight”.
In spite of the “good life” that my friends and associates saw, the truth was that (literally) every night I felt the emptiness in my soul. As the sun set every evening, Satan would tell me “You DO have an amazing life. (This was TRUE!) You also have a serious chronic pain disorder: Fibromyalgia… (This was also true, but here come’s the Stephen King twist) …that threatens your amazing life. You need something to dull your physical pain or you will be too sick to keep up with your amazing life.” So, as soon as the kids went to bed, the drinking would start.
It’s true in war, and it’s true in life…it’s far more difficult to recapture a lost city than it is to just defend the city in the first place. When you’re about to do something life-changing that God wants you to do, Satan will do EVERYTHING he can to stop it. If you are already under addiction’s control, Satan doesn’t want you to let go of that addiction!
I can’t even begin to count the number of times I woke up in the morning, hung-over and miserable and said to myself “I’m NEVER going to do that to myself again”. But then every evening, the ghosts in my empty house would chase me all the way to the liquor store.
Roadblocks along the way…
OK…personal story time.
A few weeks ago, my
daughter Tiffany graduated from Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs,
CO. I’d planned on just sending her a “Congrats Graduate” card and some money.
But, just days before the event, I was actually paying attention and heard the
whisper of the Holy Ghost. I was told that I needed to be there in person for
She’s sacrificed SO much for this degree, and I’m VERY proud of her. She’s been through some serious personal challenges, and I felt that it might be appropriate to give her a special priesthood blessing that we call a “Father’s Blessing”. I also had a feeling that perhaps there was also another reason that I needed to make the trip, but had no idea what that would be.
I also had a strong premonition that Satan did not want me to make the trip, and that something was going to happen to prevent me from getting there that weekend. And it came true…there were scheduling challenges at work that nearly cancelled our trip. There were unexpected financial problems and we couldn’t really afford to go. My car broke down and my wife’s car would never make it there.
With God’s help, work schedules mysteriously changed, unexpected money arrived, and we decided to rent a car. Even so, I was worried. I knew something bad was going to happen.
We always start our road trips with a prayer that God will keep us safe and help the car to run smoothly, but this time, I was saying a frantic silent prayer to the effect of “I KNOW something’s not right. Please don’t let us die or be injured when the bad thing happens!”
Three hours later, we hit a huge pothole in middle-of-nowhere Wyoming, damaged the car, were stranded there for several hours, and it looked as if it could take the rental car company a couple of DAYS to get us a replacement car. Basically I wound up taking care of some of the towing and repair costs out of my own pocket to get us back on the road quicker, or else we may not have made it to Colorado at all.
In the end, we made it safely in time for the graduation ceremony. Not only was I able to give Tiffany a blessing, but at the graduation after-party, I met a young lady who has been struggling with alcoholism. Our kindred spirits ‘clicked’ within a matter of minutes, and within a couple of hours she was sharing her struggles with me. My experience with her that day and the advice I have been able to give her since then has been a major inspiration for starting this blog.
Satan is real.
I can testify to you…Satan is every bit as real as God and Christ. I’ve been places where I’ve felt God’s presence and I have absolutely no doubt, he is real. Satan’s presence is just as palpable, and I’ve felt the darkness of his spirit more than a few times, and I suspect, whether you realize it or not, YOU have felt it too.
A light in the darkness
Many years ago on one of those weekend family adventures I mentioned above, we went to Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs. It’s an amazing series of caverns and caves at the foot of Pikes Peak. As we toured the caves, we saw amazingly beautiful mineral formations, natural “cathedrals”, gorgeous crystal formations, and many natural wonders.
At one point in the tour, our tour guide stopped at an electrical switch along the path and asked “How many of you have experienced total darkness before?” Many people raised their hands and the guide said “No, I don’t think so…You’ve never seen darkness like we have here!” And with that, “CLICK”, and out went the lights! Our guide was right–Total darkness was a whole new experience. It was something felt more than seen. Time seemed to stop. I was disoriented…even though I was standing still, I was quickly losing my sense of direction.
After a very long 10 or 15 seconds, from somewhere in the darkness the guide’s disembodied voice said “OK, do you want to see what just a little light will do?” A few murmured voices timidly said “Yes”. And with that, the guide turned on a tiny little pen light. “This gives off about the same light as a single candle,” said the guide. I was amazed at the comfort and relief I felt from seeing just that single tiny light. It was as if it filled my whole soul!
WE are creatures of light.
We are comfortable in the light, and, as I learned that day, we are by nature uncomfortable in the dark. Why is this?
In the apostle John’s introduction to his gospel he describes Christ in this way:
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not…John 1:4-5,9
“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
In plain English…Christ is the Light which lights every man. This “Light of Christ” is sometimes called our conscience. According to John, ALL OF US have the light of Christ in us.
As with faith (see my earlier post “Of Muggles, Magic, and Miracles“), this light of Christ is, for many of us, an unrecognized inheritance from our royal linage as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.
Yes, YOU have been given the light of Christ.
This amazing divine gift will guide you and draw you towards the light and away from the power of “The Prince of Darkness”. And for those of us struggling with addictions…we NEED to be drawn into the light as quickly as possible!
I’ve been in the same darkness that you’re experiencing. And, just as I felt comfort and relief when I saw the penlight in the darkened cave, I know YOU will feel comfort as you approach the savior. Overcoming addiction is not easy. Satan will do all within his power to keep you in the darkness.
I’ve been there and I won’t lie to you…it’s incredibly miserable. Honestly, you can’t do it yourself. But you CAN do it with God’s help! Jesus not only suffered in Gethsemane for your sins but also for your PAIN, your AFFLICTIONS and your WEAKNESSES. In a way we can’t even begin to imagine, he has experienced first-hand what you’re going through. Remember…He doesn’t just make up the difference…he makes ALL the difference! With him, I’m confident you will succeed.
Those of us who struggle with addiction need only receive light a little at a time. All you need is a glimmer to start. Remember what I said…after being in the darkness of the cave, the penlight FILLED MY SOUL and I was immediately comforted! I know from experience…it’s the same with the Light of Christ…a little bit goes a long way.
If you’re a returning reader, you’ve already heard this: You do not need to be perfect to approach God for help. Instead, you need to approach God for help to start your quest for perfection!
We are told:
“…he that receives light, and continues in God, receives more light; and that light grows brighter and brighter until the perfect day”–Doctrine & Covenants 50:24
One more thing to remember…
“There are far, far better things ahead than anything we leave behind.”–C.S. Lewis
We’ll chat some more next time about “Empty Houses”…specifically on how to succeed in breaking bad habits by FILLING our empty houses with the “far better things” C.S. Lewis talks about.
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As always, I’d LOVE to hear about your progress along this journey called life. Leave me a comment below, or PM me at Kyle@ChangeOfHeart.LIFE. And please, take a couple more minutes and check out this video–it pulls everything we’ve talked about today together beautifully:
Thanks again for reading CHANGE OF HEART!