"I wish I could go to sleep and not wake up." It's a phrase I have heard often. There was a time in my forties when I felt that way too. Every day seemed like another tragedy. Some very bad people had stolen my professional identity as an appraiser and defrauded banks out of $20 million dollars using my name on appraisals. It was the biggest mortgage scam in Georgia history at the time. By the time the dust settled it had destroyed my business and 13 people were sent to prison, the ringleader for 35 years. For the three years that the Fed was trying to figure it all out, I was afraid for my family and started carrying a weapon, because I had to testify against these people, and they weren't in jail. In fact, one had skipped the country to Belize where there is no extradition. A few years later the economy crashed as did the rest of my livelihood. I lost a builder friend to suicide and others. In fact, within 12 months the number of suicides nationwide increased by 10,000 as a direct result of the crash. Much like when Eastern Airlines went under and I lost friends that I worked with there. I ended up in the hospital the day before Thanksgiving for a heart condition. Shortly thereafter I took a church as a pastor, but it wasn't a good fit and resigned on my 24th wedding anniversary 18 months later, vowing to throw in the towel on ministry. The next month Chad was burned in a backyard explosion and had to be life flighted to Grady. I had no job and no insurance. The medical bills bankrupted me. I felt like a failure as a father and a horrible husband when Sherry said she didn't want anyone to know about the bankruptcy and I had to tell her that everyone would know because our name goes in the legal section of the county paper. She was humiliated and I felt like it was my fault. My family would be better off without me.
I was able to get back in the military, but I did so under false pretense. My hope was to deploy with the 48th and get killed in action. At least then my family would be taken care of. But God had another plan. MEPS lost my paperwork. The 48th deployed without me and the only position available was with an Army Reserve Training unit. When I interviewed for the position, Col Frank Eubanks said, “Chaplain if you decide to take this job, I want you to focus on suicide.” (That was rather ironic. That’s all I was thinking about.) The Army paid for me to be a Suicide Interventionist and Trainer and that’s how I come to were I am today.
If there is one thing, I have learned it is that life can be complicated and trials can appear overwhelming, but when times are tough, we must be stronger than time. If I have a hero from the Bible, it would have to be Caleb. He was ready to take the promised land but got outnumbered by the naysayers and had to wonder in the desert with them for 40 years. But finally, at the age of 85 when a generation had passed away, he was able to say, “Give me this mountain, for I am as strong today as I was then.”
To all my friends that find themselves struggling at this present time, I want to encourage you to press on. As Caleb claimed his inheritance, you claim yours. The mountain before you was not meant to destroy you. It is your dwelling place. You may be wondering in the valley today. But the mountain is yours. When you get there, you will look back as I have had to do many times and you will know that the journey was worth all the trials that you now endure. PRESS ON!