Down in the valley so low
Had I slipped
That I could see no light
No way out
Down in my sorrow
So far had I dipped
Not knowing wrong from right
Without a doubt
A lowly lost soul
A self-pitying man
Forsaking God
Hurting those I dearly love
Letting Satan take his toll
Of me, as only he can
Slowly slipping beneath the sod
When from above
I heard your call
And saw your light
Your mighty hand
Extended to me
To stop my fall
And useless flight
Into this unholy land
And return me to thee

On October 6, 1999 my wife passed away, after fourteen months of fighting cancer for the second time.  It was the hardest thing I had to face in my life, as I stood by and could not do anything to help her.  We had been married for over thirty-one years, raised four sons, and buried another.  I had twenty-four years experience as a volunteer rescue squads-man and helped to save many lives while there, but was totally helpless here.  I didn’t blame and curse God, as some would, but rather I felt that I had failed God in taking care of my wife.

I had a very weak and young faith life at that time.  As a Christian I was very immature, although I accepted Christ and was baptized around 1962 or 1963.  I had backslid and was back in the world for over thirty some years.  I had only returned to God between a year to a year and a half when my wife passed away.  I knew I had to turn to God, but did not know how to do it.

Too many years without God, too many years as an independent person, relying only on my own strength.  I laid around wallowing in self-pity and pain, feeling all alone, even though my youngest son and his family were there with me.  I would tell no one how I felt, if asked how I was doing.  I would say that I was just fine.  I did not know how to share my grief and ask for help.  I had always been strong for everybody else, to proud to ask for help for myself.  As I sat there trying to hide my grief and pain from everybody, Satan slowly and methodically took me into a deep suicidal depression.  He convinced me that I had nothing to live for and that I should kill myself.  As I was getting out of the chair to do it, God stopped me.  Even though God stopped me then, I still had no will to live and subconsciously was trying to kill myself with alcohol, which I was not supposed to touch, because of it’s reactions with my heart medicines.  I had no will at all to live;  I actually had a death wish.  I felt that I would not be happy again until I was dead and out of my misery.  It was during this time that made the terrible wrong choices that landed me in prison, hurting all those that I dearly love.  I hope to one day to get their forgiveness and regain their friendship.  The poem I read at the beginning, “The Valley of Death,” was the very first poem the Lord gave me to write.  If you listened close enough and can read between the lines, you can see and hear how low I felt, and that I still had that death wish at that time.  That poem was written on April 28, 2001, while I was sitting in Winchester Regional Jail, awaiting to be sent to D.O.C. to serve out my time.

I know now that man sent me here to pay for my crimes against society, but God sent me here to protect me from myself and to put me in a place, so low, that the only place I could look was up and listen to Him.  (Read Psalm 42)  As seen in Psalm 42 God used the depression in me:  First in Psalm 42:1, 2A__”As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for God, the living God…”

God caused me to see my iniquity and to realize that I needed to repent of it, and cleanse my soul in the blood of the Lamb. Once I had done this He installed in me a hunger and thirst for Him and His Word that to this day I cannot satisfy.  Every time I think I am getting full, He opens a greater, higher menu unto me.

Secondly, God taught me that I needed to communicate with Him.  Through studying His Word to try to fill my insatiable hunger and thirst for Him, I learned that I must talk to God.  He does not expect me to handle it all on my own, but He wants to carry it for me.  I learned also here that He is not a God of wrath, a vengeful God, a God so distant that I meant nothing to Him, but rather that He is a God of mercy and love, waiting with open arms, as my Heavenly Father, to receive and comfort me.

The third step was to cause me to refocus my life.  As Psalm 42:5B; 11B says to—“Put my hope in God.”  I had to learn not to be so independent and learn to submit and depend on God. When I do this I gain His peace and joy in my life.  As with an old dog, it is hard for me to relearn my life and break old habits. I sometimes find that old independence slipping back into my life, but the Spirit of God helps me to keep it in check.

The fourth step was to teach me where He should be in my life and of my need to praise Him.  As Psalm 42:5B; 11B says—“I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”  I found as I praise God, that I have no time for self-pity, and whining like a dog and I experience a great joy and peace flowing all through my body.  Placing such a peace in me, that I almost cannot describe it.

The fifth step is remembrance.  He causes me, as in Psalm 42:6—“My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hemon—from Mount Mizar”, to remember the many past blessings He has given me, my four sons, my eight grandchildren, my thirty-one years with my wife, and many, many more.

This did not happen overnight;  God has been working real hard on me these two past years I have been incarcerated.  At times I feel myself slipping back into depression, but God steps right in and stops me.  He has given me poems to write during these times, He has sent me to search and read His Word for comfort; He has used numerous ways to keep me in His comfort and peace.

But the main thing is that when I gave up and sought death, He did not give up on me.  This place and this lifestyle in here are very depressing in it’s self, and often Satan uses it to place violent and rebellious thoughts in my head.  But God daily makes it easier for me to rebuke Satan and his evil thoughts.  I praise and thank God for the strength to refuse those evil thoughts Satan try’s to place in my head.

God has given me such growth that He has now revealed His plan for the rest of my life to me.  A life dedicated in His service, helping others in their needs, both physically and spiritually.  I am retired, living on a fixed income, which where I live now is almost not enough to live on.  But God in His infinite plan and love for me has made it possible for me to sell my home and move to where He wants me to work.  I will have more than enough from the sale of my home to pay off the mortgage here and to buy a home there straight out.  Then my meager income here will be as a large amount there.  I will have plenty to live comfortably on and plenty left over to use for His glory.

If God can do this for an old fool like me, one who has abused this body, His temple, to the point that I now have wire stints in three places in my heart to keep it going among other health problems, such as overweight, diabetes, emphysema, bad hearing and more, if God did not give up on a basket case like me, He definitely won’t give up on you and can do the same for you also.

Satan will try to tell you “it is too late, you have been too bad.”  Satan will use his strong weapon of depression, one of his favorite tools, to get to you.  Satan will use any lie he can to get you away from God.  Don’t forget that Satan is the father of lies and has had thousands of years to perfect his lies. Remember this though, God is there always for you and ready to fight Satan’s lies for you.

When Christ hung on the cross for our sins, there were two other crosses erected there also, with two criminals on them. One of the criminals listened to Satan’s lies and cursed and mocked Jesus, but the second one admitted his sins, repenting of them, and called for Christ to remember him in death.  We know the first one died and went to hell, but Christ told the second one that that very night he would be in paradise with Him.  Joel 2:32  and  Romans 10:13 both tell us that—“Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

I say unto you don’t let this place or anything else cause you to give up on yourself, because if God did not give up on a sinner such as me, He will not give up on you either.  He has a plan for your life, also, and when you let Him He will reveal it to you in His time.  God’s plan for you is far better than any old depression and He is ready to share it with you, if you will only let Him.


*Used with permission



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