The phone call came at midnight on Easter eve.
A desperate voice said, “I am going to kill myself.” I quickly and quietly prayed for wisdom. Recognizing his voice, I asked him to make a commitment that he would at least not hurt himself until we had talked in person. He agreed.
Forty-five minutes later we were meeting face to face in my office. I explained that God was with us and for him to share everything that he was feeling and thinking. J shared the burdens of his heart. He felt like a loser. His young marriage was failing. He feared he was going to lose his job. Activities in the past which he had used to cope and to make himself happy were no longer giving him that “feel good” sensation. He felt the shame of failing at life.
Despair had grabbed him by the throat and was whispering death into his ears. He saw no way out of his mess, except by pulling the trigger on his shotgun. I held his hand and said, “J, we are now in the early hours of Easter. Christ wants you to know that the power of His resurrection is the very power that you need right now. You can’t work this out on your own. But by trusting your life to Christ, you can discover what Easter really means. What you are feeling is the very reason Christ gave His life on the cross. So you could know that He knew what it is that you are feeling. God can fill the emptiness in your soul with His love. The sins behind your guilt and shame can be forgiven. You can have a new life that will give you the power and wisdom to change the circumstances that are overwhelming you. When the sun comes up in a few hours, you can be a new person. You are not in this alone. Your grief has a resting place and it is in the empty tomb. Because Christ is alive, He wants to be in a living relationship with you.”
He asked how and I explained the A, B, C’s of: accepting his need for Christ, believing in Christ, and confessing his commitment to Christ. He then prayed the prayer of all prayers. He felt “the burdens of his heart roll away.” We talked about how Christ could now bring hope to each circumstance J was facing because he was facing those circumstances with Him. Soon it would be time for the Easter sunrise.
We walked from my office to his truck. He picked up his shot gun. Removed the shell and handed it to me. With tears in our eyes we hugged. J was alive! We began planning his baptism instead of his funeral. That shotgun shell now sits on my desk as a daily reminder of life’s dangers and Christ’s power.
Christ’s resurrection is the game changing event which makes everything else become clear. So it was for the early disciples. So it is for us today.