Ten years ago today I received news that shook me to my core, and, literally, left me unable to stand. My 14-year-old brother was dead. Kees and I were incredibly close. His death broke my heart into a thousand tiny pieces that seemed impossible to put back together.
I had grown accustomed to believing that "tragedy" was a four-letter word that only happened to other people, not our family. Then it did. At first I didn't believe it was true. I held tight to the possibility that maybe it was a mistake and he would come walking through our garage door one day, with his Tar Heel hat on (living in New York, mind you), and I'd say, "Hey, Bud (my nickname for him), where've ya been?" My world would go back to normal.
When that didn't happen, I ran from the truth. I used alcohol and drugs to numb my pain. It did, at first, until my actions while drunk or high caused more pain. It was a horribly stupid cycle I couldn't break. This lasted for four years until I finally grew tired of being numb. I longed for freedom and a chance to start over. Now I know that it was God pulling on my heart, pleading for me to return to Him. My world was so foggy at that time, I couldn't tell it was Him.
Then I accepted a job in North Carolina. Physically being away from the place where I had cowered in pain for so long was freeing. It felt as though being away from where the fog covered me in misery allowed me to see clearly again. God was still-and never stopped-pulling on my heart, pleading for me to return to Him. One Sunday, as Jacob Early led the original Journey Church in worship, I heard His voice asking me to let His love put the pieces of my heart back together.
I did, and my life has never been the same. That is the power of God's restoration.