We’ve Got to Shine in Here

The seed of ThinkTwice was planted ten years ago today.

It was one of the darkest days; I was very sick, possibly very close to the state we might call madness. After an overdose I was in my local psychiatric unit for the night. It was one of the most hopeless and desperate places I have ever encountered and I myself was hopeless and desperate. With the policemen, the gentleman with schizophrenia in the next bed and the Jane Doe opposite I wondered where God was. I turned the volume up on my iPod and listened to a recent sermon my Pastor had given. It contained a reflection on John chapter 1 so read the passage first:

“Here’s the gospel truth:  “The Word became flesh”.  God has a human face in Jesus.  God knows what its like to be human.  God is not indifferent!   He does care.  In fact, God couldn’t care more – and so God did intervene.  The light that was coming into the world stepped down into our darkness.  God came to our rescue – to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves – ‘the Man who is God’ bringing us and God together – he came in love to be ‘God with us’ – he came in love to save us – to save us from our sins – to save us from a death without God – to save us for heaven.”

And for the remainder of that night, despite the horror and the pain, I had another thought circling:

We’ve got to shine in here.

It was thought that lay dormant for four years as I fought first for the desire to recover, and then began to work my way up from the underworld of my mental illness. In fact, I’d all but forgotten those words that had come to me all those years before.

Until I re-visted a psychiatric unit, this time as a volunteer chaplain. As I walked through the corridors talking to the men and women whose lives were being lived within the walls of a secure unit, the long forgotten words came back to me.

“We’ve got to shine in here”

What followed were dreams and commissioning the design of a logo of a project that didn’t exist yet.

A facebook page and a blog to raise awareness of mental health conditions in the church.

I did not imagine that it would become my job; that it would be a charity ten years after that first spark was ignited.

God has proved to me time and again that he works in the rubble of our lives to make something good. He doesn’t necessarily make the situation good – but His remarkable grace and redemption build something strong from the broken places.

Isaiah 43 reminds us beautifully:

“But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.”

God’s redemptive power built a ministry of evangelism in Paul, who had persecuted christians.

It restored the walls of the city in Nehemiah.

And it brought the Israelites from slavery into their promised land.

God doesn’t work how we expect Him to, He sometimes doesn’t work how we would like; but He does work and He restores us in the broken places and brings something new from old wounds.

And ten years later, I am so grateful for the God who shines in the darkness and redeems the darkest of days.

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