EDITOR’S NOTE: For the next 16 weeks, we will be featuring a cartoon every Sunday by our friend and ERB reader Josh Dease. Let us know what you think of these cartoons.
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I was deep into creating a graphic novel length story about my church plant failing and Ashley and I raising support to move to Slovenia when we realized that we had also failed in the second endeavor.
Our dream had died.
Rather, a SECOND dream died.
In the SAME year.
Hurt. Anger. Sorrow. Pain. Helplessness. Pointlessness.
What does my life mean?
What do I do?
I know who I am, but what does who I am look like anymore?
THEN we decided to use our unique freedom to take a long trip out west to see some of the National Parks, heal, and possibly even see what might be next.
Ashley got a job opportunity with a house.
This house was in Ocala.
I got a job in Ocala.
We suddenly had an entirely new and completely different life! No time to heal. Heads still spinning. No trip to the Grand Canyon to worship and recover.
No one to understand why our new fortune did not wipe the tears of our new tragedy.
ALONE in our grief.
I tried to white knuckle my way through it. Pretend to care deeply about my new profession and try to excel at it. Take on a yearlong Bible plan to prove my faith in God unshaken. Continue my graphic novel like a professional would need to.
I could fake it at work. I could push through the scripture. But my art reveals the TRUTH of my soul. And the words for the comic pages could not form. And the lines appeared lifeless and stale. It was dead.
Reality: I AM A BROKEN THING.
As I was trying to soldier on, I could feel God pulling me, telling me to sit. Wait. Rest. Be still.
I took a page in a sketchbook and drew some random squares on it. I filled those squares with words from Watchman Nee. If my faith isn’t strong enough, I’ll just borrow his. I filled the page not with images of my life at work/home, but with green hills, tall trees, and blue skies. If I couldn’t GO to the wilderness physically to see God, then I would go in my imagination.
Nee’s words bring a bit of peace and comfort as they point to Jesus. They remind me to be still. THE WILD doesn’t look like Slovenia or the West (or anywhere in particular), but if FEELS like it.
So I draw another one. And another one.
I realize that I am in no state to go trudging through the Bible. I need to stop and read slowly, and carefully. I just start repeating and contemplating the LORD’s PRAYER.
I resolve that this is no time to dive into N.T. Wright and pursue rigorous theological study to prove something. I pick up The Lord of the Rings and let Tolkien take me on a perilous journey to see what I will see.
Slowly, Ashley and I become part of a church again, the prospects of new friendships that will perhaps bring healing on the horizon.
These little comics lead me through a wilderness. Teaching me to feel again. To love. To pursue a God who never left.
Maybe even to DREAM again.
We’ll have to wait and see.
These are the Sabbath Wanderings.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com
Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith
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