Tag Archives: depression

A Cold Mountain River

by Timothy W. Tron

It was late September in the highlands. We were camping on the banks of the Johns River. While the leaves had yet to fully change, there were the tale-tale signs of imminent transformation on the horizon. As my feet slid underneath the surface of the cold mountain water, a formidable repercussion burst through my soul. Deeper I waded in until it was a matter of now or never; an immediate submersion momentarily took my breath away. It was my evening bath in the John’s river, yet another first in my life.

Johns River, Collettsville, NC. – photo by Timothy W. Tron

As the due course of washing ensued, the greatly diminished bar of soap I was using slipped from my fingertips and into the brink below. In an instance, there was a fear that gripped my heart. “Oh no, now I won’t be able to get clean,” were the thoughts that raced in my head. “Does it float,” came the question? Before the unspoken whisper was even done, the tiny little bar popped back up. Quickly, my hand scooped it up and cradled it carefully. “No more losing you,” I mused at the careless soap. Looking down the course of the waterway to where that tiny sliver of could have traveled, a shimmering image caught my eye. The rapids below me sparkled in the setting sun. A thousand diamonds reflected the vast spectrum of light back towards me and a radiance illuminated the bend in the river about me. It was as if the Lord had suddenly appeared. The thought of that momentary fear of losing the bar of soap returned and how it made me think of what it might feel like to lose one’s Bible, or even worse, God. For me, in that instance of time, it would have meant that I would be unable to physically cleanse my body. But like the Word, it helps us to cleanse our soul. Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, our sins were literally washed away. Like that grime from my flesh, it was purged clean and taken away with the never ending current. Suddenly, standing as I stood in an indescribable realm of illuminated river, a revelation began to form in my being.

By this time, my body had nearly lost feeling. My head fully lathered, I dipped beneath the surface once more. The frigid waters rushed around me and all sound ceased from the surface. There was nothing more than the sound of gurgling flow pulsating past my being. A faint heartbeat sounded in the distant, like a bodhran keeping time to a Celtic song, ancient tomes for which the voices had long since faded into obscurity. My mind flashed to that of the river Jordan and the Apostle John standing over Jesus, who at the moment was also beneath the surface. As Christ looked upward from beneath the cleansing waters of Baptism, he could see the heavens open and the Spirit of the Lord descending. At that moment, John lifted him up. The cold water fell away from his body, his face flush with the exertion of that same shock, now beaming as the multitude of God’s love imbued his being. John saw it appear above Christ’s head, and it slowly fluttered until it appeared to light upon the crown of his head, like a dove descending from heaven.

Likewise, as I rose from beneath the veil of frigid flow, the sky opened above me to a clearness that seemed to take away one’s breath. The feeling of a newness unlike before overwhelmed my soul. Though my body was immersed in the freezing mountain waters, my soul was enveloped in an indescribable comforting warmth.

Through that momentary elation, the question returned, “How sorrowful would it be to have known God, and then to lose Him?” Simply asking the question to myself made me appreciate what I had all the more. One who has never known the love of God cannot comprehend what it is to imagine losing him. Like that inanimate bar of soap, while it is easily replaced, how unlike it is to the spirit within us. Once we receive Christ into our lives, there is a newness of living. Like emerging from those frozen depths of the mountain river, we are torn free from those previous fleshly burdens. We are given the greatest gift of all; freedom from sin. We are washed clean by the proverbial, never-ending bar of soap; the blood Jesus shed for all mankind on the cross.

Still yet, the profound symbolism of losing that bar for but a second, and the feeling of that lost translated into miniscule slice of what it might be like to lose one’s faith. So too, we who believe, would find ourselves in a despair unrivaled with any known heretofore if we were to knowingly lose our faith – to have it torn asunder like a child from a mother’s bosom. There could be no greater loss of hope, freedom, and truth. Yet, throughout history, people have been tortured because of their faith, and many times told to escape the torture or death, that they must abjure their faith – to give it up. Many died for this faith. Untold numbers were tortured through some of the most unimaginable gruesome deaths. Yet, there were a few that gave in. Sadly, their torture would have been less to have died, for the remainder of their lives, they would be haunted in a life of anguish knowing that they had turned their backs on the one thing that gave them hope, gave them life eternal – their faith.

We are living in some of the most distressing times in our country. While we are facing a growing evil, there is and always will be hope. It is now that we, those who are called, must boldly wade into that torrent of bone-chilling water of life and reach out to those who drowning in the depths of despair and heartache. Like the bar of soap, they are tossed about, unable save themselves. Without a hand to reach out and lift it up, it would have certainly been taken away downstream. Likewise, without God, we too are lost. But we can be the lifeline through which the giver of eternal life can reach them. As the gospel hymn goes, “When my Savior reached down for me, I was lost and undone without God or His Son. When He reached down His hand for me. [1]

You may not be able to immediately see those who need your help. But stay the course, and continue to walk in the light. In time, they will come to you, or their presence will be made known. It is then, that you can save them from falling beneath the rushing waters of this world’s darkness and lift them up. You were made for a time such as this. “The fields are white ready to harvest,” Jesus told his disciples. “One reapeth and another soweth, I sent yea to reap wherein yea bestowed no labor. Others labored and yea entered into their labors.”[2]

There will always be a Comforter there by our side. Step into the water, and the Lord will take you the rest of the way.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Source: Musixmatch, Songwriters: G. E. E. Wright, When He Reached Down lyrics © Bridge Building Music

[2] John 4:35 KJV

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A Vision, A Meteor

meteprIn the fullness of life, we all hope to know of God’s glory. When he speaks we yearn to hear. Today as I watched the silent snow falling in flakes as large as feathers, I couldn’t help to wonder of the heavenly glory that awaits us all. The quiet precipitation from the skies above, like letters from angels, put into our midst so that we may read their messages; if only we would take the time to do so. This past week, a momentary lapse in time afforded me the opportunity to do just that.

Hindsight is always twenty-twenty; once we step through those moments in time that were life-changing events, positive or negative, we can then see more clearly what led up to and were subsequent results of those moments. So it was, this past week on my way to work that I now realize there was something greater than I could know weighing on my heart. What I thought was as a sense of depression was probably more of an eminent doom, which again, I could not know at the time.

I often have time to reflect on my life’s journey on my hour long commute to and from work. I sometimes find myself driving through nightfall or the impending dusk. This seemingly eternal darkness can cause even the mildest thoughts of despair to easily become amplified beyond their true nature. Something inside me kept pushing my thoughts toward the “Why” of it all that night, until I was resolute to justify my existence purely for the sake of my children, nothing more. It was then I began to think of ways in which death might greet me.

Sitting at the stop light at the corner of Old Jenks Rd. and Highway 55, I had the sudden image flash into my mind; one of how death could be so sudden, it might seem preposterous. I was the third car in line at the red light, sitting in the left turn lane. Suddenly from above came a brilliant light, then a roaring flame followed by the sound of an explosion as what had been the first car at the light, a small SUV, immediately disappeared from sight as a cloud of smoke and flame erupted. The car directly behind it caught fire as the blast from the meteor’s impact shook all of our cars, igniting the second car. The driver, a man of Asian descent, jumped from his car running away, screaming in a mixed English-Hindi accent, “My God, my car is on fire, somebody help!” Shrapnel from the blast flew into the second car and then into mine. The mirror from the driver’s side of the second car flew into mine, glancing harmlessly off my window, leaving only a slight chip in the glass. The impact from the blast rocked all of our cars. Few pieces of the first car existed beyond the small crater that it had become from the weight of the meteor’s impact.

Stunned yet aware of the magnitude of the moment, I realized there was nothing I could do. “The people or person in the first car should have been me,” was my first thought. Whomever or whoever they were no longer mattered other than those they had left behind could take solace from the fact a death like theirs could have only been heaven sent. The odds of dying from the impact of a meteor are so small; you could certainly consider it a way for God to call you home.

I knew that the first responders would be on the scene soon. The man in the second car who had escaped with only minor injuries now stood off to the side of the road. I could see him standing there talking on his cell phone, illuminated by the glow from his burning car and the street lights that had not been blown out by the blast force of the impact. My car, although shaken, was none the worse for wear. Realizing there wasn’t much I could do at this point, knowing that this place would soon become a media spectacle and anyone remaining might be tied up for hours reliving the horrible experience, I turned my car and began to drive around the disaster scene.

The traffic on Highway 55 was stopped; some people were standing outside of their cars with their cell phones out taking video of the scene while others talked frantically into their devices, all probably sharing the event with others. I easily drove through the light, which was now green, luckily for me. I watched as I pulled away, the smoldering remains of an SUV, a life that was now gone; gone in the blink of an eye. A life that was just living another day, now gone forever; it could have been me, yet it wasn’t; “God doesn’t miss,” I told myself as I continued to drive away, watching from my rearview mirror.

Blue lights began to fill the sky over the horizon, as my car slowly made its way, putting distance between myself and the scene of the disaster that never happened. Nobody would know that I had been there, and then again, it never happened anyhow, so it didn’t matter.

Somehow, my sense of depression felt better.

Later that evening, I recalled the near-miss vision I had with a co-worker. He sat raptly listening to me tell of the scene, with all the detail of a true event. When I was done, it replied that I had quite the imagination.

We left it at that.

A few hours into Friday morning I overheard someone speaking about Russia. We were still tied up with the job we had started earlier in the night and couldn’t break away. It was a few moments later that the co-worker I had told the story to earlier in the night came up to my desk, somewhat shaken, asking me, “Did you just hear the news from Russia?”

“No, what are you talking about,” I asked, watching my computer screen from the corner of my eye; I was hesitant to take my attention away from my task at hand.

He cleared his throat, trying to capture my full attention, which he did, “There was a meteor that hit Russia just a few minutes ago. Nearly 1,000 people have been injured.” He stood there looking at me, as if he had just seen a ghost, or someone that might have known too much before its time. I sat back in my chair and took a deep breath, “my Lord,” was all I could say.

“You just told me your crazy story, and now this,” he replied, as if repeating it might somehow make it disconnect.

“What are the odds of that,” I asked, somewhat rhetorically?

We both stared in awed silence as our minds tried to grasp the reality of what was.

Even tonight as I write this story, to retell the events of Friday morning, I still cannot help to feel that when God speaks, and if we listen, there are endless possibilities. How we react to them is up to us. Sometimes, if we are fortunate enough, we listen and act.

Friday was mostly a blur of activity after that event. I was already short of sleep before Friday, but after hearing of the news from Russia, my mind was on fire. I would not sleep again until late Friday night. There was so much I had to do, to see and to discuss. It was as if a real meteor had struck in my own life and the spirit of the Lord was on fire within me.

I don’t know what will happen, what will change or what might be altered from all the wonderful things I experienced Friday but one thing I know for sure.

It all started with a vision at a stop light…and I listened.

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