The Story that is My Life

My life as it has been and as it continues to unfold is a story. One story made up of many stories. One complex, yet simple story. One sometimes messy, but so beautiful story. One story that I wonder if it might be interesting to be told.

This blog is my attempt to put part, or parts, of that story into words, pictures, or whatever form my mind can wrap itself around or create from within myself to express what it is like to be the one inside Cindy's Story. This is an exploration on my part and on yours in reading, and seeing, and maybe even hearing. It is not necessarily chronological. It might not always make sense, but it is my expression. It is me.

You are invited to see how my story unfolds.....

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Day I Met the Band Third Day...and Cried

A letter to my favorite band.

Dear Mac Powell, Mark Lee, and David Carr of Third Day,

On October 24th, 2015 in Portland, Oregon (actually Tualatin) I got to meet you in person.  You probably don't remember me.  I know you meet hundreds of people at each concert you give, but just in case...

My name is Cindy Wolf.  You probably thought that I was a bit over emotional as I came toward you, as I could not contain the tears welling up within me.  I am the one who, as your road pastor, Nigel James, explained to you, had gone through many years of depression and suicide attempts, and that the music of Third Day had been one of the things that helped get me through.  I want to tell you more of the reason behind my tears and my overwhelming emotions.  

It began back when I was in high school.  I found that I was sad much of the time even though my life was going so well.  I had friends, played sports, was a leader within my youth group at church, and even became Valedictorian of my class.  But inside I felt like a fraud.  So when I first started listening to the music of Third Day, some of the songs struck a cord with me.

In Thief, the lines, "It's been so long.  Oh, such a long time, since I've lived with peace and rest," struck me because I was not living with peace and rest.  

When you sang, "I deserve what I receive."  I knew that that was true of me, though no one could see it.  Though I studied my Bible, I did it because that is what a strong Christian is supposed to do.  I knew the inside of me was darker than what I projected on the outside.  I wanted Jesus to love me anyway, even though I was not perfect.

I felt like the thief on the cross beside Jesus.  Just like you sang.
I deserve what I receive.  Jesus when You are in Your kingdom, could You please remember me.  And He looks at me still holding on, the tears fall from His eyes.  He says I tell the truth.  Today, you will live with Me in paradise.
The thought of tears falling from Jesus' eyes because of his love for me, even when I felt like a fraud, was so encouraging.  I didn't want to be depressed, and the thought of Jesus wanting me with Him gave me hope.  I listened to this song over and over again.  The same encouragement came from Love Song.  My heart was starting to be convicted that I wanted to do anything Jesus wanted me to do, even go to the ends of the earth so that others may be saved.  Jesus sang to me,
Just to be with you, I'd do anything.  There's no price I would not pay.  Just to be with you, I'd give anything.  I would give My life away.
If Jesus would do anything for me, I wanted to do anything for Him.  I was reminded,
I know that you don't understand the fullness of My love.  How I died upon the cross for your sins, and I know that you don't realize how much that I gave you.  But I promise, I would do it all again.  Just to be with you, I gave everything.  Yes, I gave my life away.
That is when I decided that I would study at Bible college to be ready for God's calling of me to be a missionary.  During my studies, I spent one year in Northern Ireland as an exchange student.  The different culture and way of studying caused me to doubt my faith.  My faith was not strong enough to keep me believing, but Jesus showed me that He would give me the faith and grace that I needed.  The song I've Always Loved You reminded me that my standing with God was not based on myself.
Don't you know I've always loved you even before there was time.  Though you turn away I'll tell you still.  Don't you know I've always loved you, and I always will. 
I continued preparing to go as a missionary.  My excitement in God's truth and my trust and hope in Him grew.  I wanted to share the Good News around the world.  My Hope is In You spoke to me and was my heart cry in the words,
To you, Oh Lord, I lift my soul.  
In you, Oh God, I place my trust... My hope is you.  Show me Your ways.  Guide me in Truth.  In all my days, My hope is You... My broken spirit shouts.  My mended heart cries out. 
I finished Bible college with an International Ministries degree.  After college, I spent a year as a missionary in Africa.  This was something that my heart had been drawn to.  It was an amazing time, but also very difficult, with continued feelings of inadequacy on my part.  After returning home to the US, I was very discouraged because I didn't feel like I could live as a missionary in a village for the rest of my life like I had planned.  I thought that I had failed God.

I found myself in a dark pit, in a tunnel with no light at the end.  Tunnel was my life.  It was like you were singing to me:
I won't pretend to know what you're thinking.  I can't begin to know what you're going through.  I won't deny the pain that you're feeling, but I'm gonna try and give a little hope to you.
I didn't feel there was hope.
Just remember what I've told you; there's so much you're living for.
"No," I thought, "I've lost what I was living for."
...There's a light at the end of this tunnel for you... There's a light at the end of this tunnel, shinin' bright at the end of this tunnel for you, for you.  So keep holdin' on.
But I could not hold on.  I could not see the light.  I let go.  I tried to kill myself.  They locked me up in the hospital psychiatric ward.  I was lost.  I could do nothing but cry.  Though I was let out of the hospital, my deep depression and struggle with the dark side of mental illness continued for years.  And you encouraged me to Cry Out to Jesus.
...And to all of the people with burdens and pains, keeping you back from your life, You believe that there's nothing and there in no one who can make it right.
My world was horrible.  A huge burden crushed me.  The pain inside was debilitating.  It was never going to change until I was in heaven.  I had no hope on this earth, but you sang:
There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary, love for the broken heart.  There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing.  He'll meet you wherever you are.  Cry out to Jesus. Cry out to Jesus. 
I so wanted to believe this.  I was so tired.  I wanted to rest forever.  I felt my heart had been broken by God.  I hated myself.  I felt that I was the worst person that existed.  I cut myself.  This became an addiction, and I still have the scars on my body to show it.  Suicide was my continual desire.  You continued in your song:
For the ones who can't break the additions and chains, You try to give up, but you come back again.  Just remember that you're not alone in your shame and suffering.
...When you're lonely, and it feels like the whole world is falling on you, you just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus.  Cry to Jesus. 
Yes, the world was falling on me.  I cried to Jesus so many times.  I was never going to get better.  Death was the only answer.  But I cried out to Jesus.

I cried out to Jesus.
There is hope for the helpless.  Rest for the weary... He'll meet you wherever you are.
I listened over and over again to this song.  I cried and cried.  I cried out to Jesus.  And he held me tight.  He did not let me go.  He did not let me take my own life.

I cried out to Jesus, and slowly I climbed out of the deep dark pit of depression.  God sent His love and His people who loved me to take my hand and help me walk out of the dark tunnel to where there was light.

Your song, Mountain of God, speaks of my journey with God.
Thought that I was all alone, broken and afraid, but You were there with me.  Yes, You were there with me...
...'Til You opened up my eyes, I never knew that I couldn't ever make it without You...
Even though the journey's long, and I know the road is hard, well, the One who's gone before me, He will help me carry on.  After all that I've been through, now I realize the truth that I must go through the valley to stand upon the mountain of God. 
As I travel on the road that You have lead me down, You are here with me.  Yes, You are here with me.  I have need for nothing more.  Oh, now that I have found that You are here with me.  Yes, You are here with me. 
I finally realize that these things are true.  I did not know it, but God was there with me during those times of death, helping me to carry on.

I can say now that I have come out of that time.  I am able to stand upon that mountain of God and see the things have come through and learned.  I see that Jesus is here with me, and I feel it.  He is with me in my life on this earth, not just when life is over and I go to be with Him.

My journey continued in Mountain of God:
I confess from time to time I lose my way, but You are always there to bring me back again.
Sometimes I think of where it is I've come from and the things that I've left behind, but of all I've had, what I possessed, nothing can quite compare with what's in front of me, with what's in front of me.
I came from a deep pit, and endless tunnel.  I held on to death.  I had nothing worth living for in my life.

Now, I have hope because my life is really Jesus' life.  Love healed my heart.

I could go on about how Love Heals Your Heart gave me hope that, when I thought my life was shattered, and there was no way for it to be fixed again, love would heal my heart.  And it did!  "At a time [I] least expected," I was "alive like [I] had never been."

I could tell you about this new life I have.

I could tell you the details of how Trust in Jesus became my new anthem:
...what I've done is trust in Jesus, my Great Deliverer, my Strong Defender, the Son of God.  I trust in Jesus, Blessed Redeemer, my Lord forever, the Holy One, the Holy One...
Though in the past I had trusted in myself to do what God wanted me to do, now I live out the truth that:
There's nothing I can do on my own to find forgiveness.  It's by His grace alone.  I trust in Jesus, I trust in Jesus.
I could give you the examples in my life of how I now once again have a Soul on Fire, and I too sing with you:
God, I'm running for Your heart...Lord, I'm longing for Your ways.
You sing:
Lord, restore the joy I had.  I have wandered, bring me back.  In this darkness, lead me through until all I see is You. 
Can you believe He has done this for me!?!  The spark has been lit in my heart again.  I pray this verse in Soul on Fire:
Lord, let me burn for You again.  Let me return to You again.  And Lord, let me burn for You again.  And let me return to You again.
I would have loved to sit down with you and explained how I have seen the other side, the sin and misery.  I would have loved to tell you the story of being baptized in the Jordan River where I died to me and was raised with a promise to God that He would be the One to decide the days of my life.  He was now my life, and still is, and will remain until HE takes me home.

What will happen in my life from this point forward, I do not know.  That is for God to work in me.  He is my life.  He will do it.  He alone is my hope.  Your song In Jesus Name expresses what I want to remember and what I want to share with others.
The tired find rest...and those who mourn are comforted.  The chains are broken that have enslaved.  We're offered freedom In Jesus Name
There is power.  There is hope.  There is love like you're never known.  There is forgiveness and  healing from your pain, all through the power In Jesus name.
Let us find our life and love In Jesus Name.
Thank you, Third Day, for your music.  Now you see why I cried so when I met you, Mac, Mark, and David.  I am saying a prayer for you in Jesus name.  May Jesus be your life every day, and may your hearts forever remain in His love.

Your sister in Christ,

Cindy Wolf

p.s.  An analogy came to my mind of what it was like for me to meet you, and what it might be like for us when we meet Jesus one day.  This is it:

When I heard that my favorite band was coming to my city, I was very excited!  Right away I went out and got VIP tickets so I could meet you guys.  I thought that there was a chance I would be able to ask you a question.  I thought for days about what question I might like to ask.  At the concert when I listened and sang along to your music, memories from my life flooded in on me, and tears ran down my face.  

Then the concert was over, I was waiting toward the back of the line to meet you.  I went over and over in my mind how I would thank you for helping me to focus on Jesus during hard times.  Every step I took closer to the front of the line, the more real it became, and the more emotional I became.  I was not going to be able to share the depth of my thankfulness with you or to ask you any questions, but I could tell these to your pastor, Nigel, and he would let you know.  Just knowing you would know a little of my story was overpowering to me.  Then Nigel told you why I was crying when I came up to you.  Mac, you asked my name, and David, you looked in my tearful eyes and said, "Thank you so much for sharing."

What a relief your response was to my heart.  Even from your simple responses, I knew that I mattered in life.

This whole experience of the day I was able to meet you and say thank you, made me think of the fact that there is someone else even more amazing that I am looking forward to meeting!

We are going to get to meet Jesus one day.  You and I have believed in him.  We have our ticket, and we will be VIPs!  We will get to go up to him and touch and see him face to face.  Ours will not just be one moment on one night, but an eternity with him.  We will have all the time we want to ask him every question we have ever wondered.  There will be a concert too, but it will be for him because of his holiness, and I know I will join in the singing.

I am sure that all the emotion of seeing the way that Jesus loved and protected me over my life on earth will bring about an even greater eternal thankfulness.  Day by day, now, as I wait for Jesus coming, I get more and more excited!  I come closer and closer to his love.  I can't even begin to dream of what it will be like to meet him and to have him already know my name.  He will already truly know me and love me deeper that any person every could.

What a relief God's response to me will be to my heart and my soul.  Until Jesus comes, I will wait with you in eagerness for him who loves us best of all.