Last Thursday afternoon I witnessed something remarkable in the office. I saw a woman rise from the grave. She sat on the couch for almost forty minutes with no visible signs of life. She was speaking, but the words came from a place deeper than six feet under where there is no light. Only darkness. Where there is no true self-awareness. Only Denial. Where wisdom and common sense have disappeared and have been replaced by an ignorance that is almost mystical and keeps a person “in the dark” so to speak, regarding the personal issues that are killing them and destroying others. It is a slow death. It is a disease that consumes the soul. It is a sickness that comes from the secrets we keep. . .from ourselves. I will call the woman, Magdalene.
I have known her and her husband for a few years. They have a teenage daughter and a young son. They initially came to see me because of serious issues that had developed in their marriage. Their friends, their family. . .even their own kids have been strongly promoting that they get a divorce and move on. They have tenaciously held on and have done their utmost to make things better. It seems to work for awhile until one of them is unkind or uncaring in their words or actions, and it gets worse than before. There is a major contributing factor that handcuffs their sensibilities and makes them emotionally handicapped. They both have serious issues with alcohol. I have heard them readily admit to the “problem” but because they are still functioning at an acceptable level professionally, they have minimized the affect that drinking has on their lives. I TOTALLY understand because I have been there myself.
She started out the session with, “You won’t believe what I went through last weekend.” Her husband, who has given up drinking during Lent, was confrontational with her about her problem. Her daughter had a lengthy text conversation with her about the way she is affected by her Mom’s drinking. Her son has become distant with her over the last few months and she was blaming it on the influencing her husband was having on the son. . .turning him against her.
She was committed to attend a friend’s baby shower on Sunday, but decided it was in her own best interest to attend the St. Patrick’s day parade instead. When she called her friend to inform her of the change in plans, the friend “read her the riot act” (as she put it) about her self-centeredness and said she couldn’t forgive her. Magdalene was also furious over her families reactions to her behaviors and was convinced that she did not have a drinking problem. She went on to tell me about the particulars of her weekend which included an evening out with her girlfriends. “I only had six or seven beers and a couple of shots. I was totally in control.” She went on to say that the only problem that night was that she lost her car keys and asked one of her girlfriends to call her husband to come up to the bar to get her. And when he refused to come, she was very angry and said to me, “Do you believe that?” There was silence for a moment and then she looked directly at me and asked, “Do you think I have a drinking problem?” I sat there for a moment teary eyed and then said, “Magdalene, you have a serious drinking problem.” She was shocked when she heard the words. . .and I watched her face, mirror what was churning in her heart. . .what was set on fire by my words and a few moments later, exploded out of her soul like the bursting of a dam.
“On each bank of the River all kinds of trees and Lilies will grow to provide Food. The leaves will never whither and they will never stop bearing fruit. They will have Fresh Fruit every day because they are Watered by the River that flows from the Temple of God in Heaven. The trees will provide food and the leaves will be used for Healing people. This Water flows through the land to the east and down into the Jordan Valley and to the Dead Sea. When it Flows into the Dead Sea, it replaces the salt water of that sea with Fresh Water. Where the River Flows, everything shall Live.” Ezekiel 47
The human soul. The Dead Sea. A stagnant pond with an inlet but no outlet. Repressed feelings, suppressed thoughts, hardened hearts. No flowing. . .only some movement when the winds blow and momentarily brings a false sense of life into the soul. But on this day, the Day of God’s Power, Magdalene began to flow.
She cried and she cried. Then she confessed and revealed to herself and to me, what her secrets were. . .a litany of truth about her offenses and the affect that it has had on the people she cares about. Dozens of stories about her drinking, her blackouts, her humiliations and embarrassments, her self-condemnation and regrets. It was remarkable. Through it all she continued to sob and every secret that was making her sick was now flowing out of her. . .a purging of the polluted water in her soul. A dying to the influence of what has kept her imprisoned and has held her captive.
The following Monday morning I sent her a text asking her how the weekend went. She replied, “No booze, had family time and it was perfect. There is hope yet for all of us.” I saw her again yesterday, Saturday. The day after Good Friday and the day before Easter Sunday. The day after Christ’s death and the blood that He shed for the sins and offenses of his sheep, that Flows over their soul like a River and cleanses them from all guilt and fear of punishment. And then Easter Sunday. . .the Day that His own Life Flows through their soul to Enable them to Live victoriously, without a spirit of fear but with a Spirit of Power and Love and a Sound Mind. Magdalene heard these Truths on Saturday and like the Magdalene in the courtyard who was brought by religious hypocrites to Jesus to have her stoned to death for her sins, she noticed that all of them had dropped their stones and left. “Who is here to condemn you” Jesus said. “No one, Lord” was Magdalene’s response. Jesus answered, “Neither do I. Go in Peace”, And Magdalene Loved Him, her River of Life. Flowing on Good Friday with Forgiveness and Flowing today on Easter Sunday with Resurrection Life, Given to His children as Free Gifts of His Love to Hope in the improbable and Do the impossible.
Where the River Flows, Everything Shall Live.