By Rick Chromey
Sometimes an entire life boils down to a single moment.
For me it was a solitary night of divine deliverance and holy intervention that changed everything.
It happened in the spring of 1982, about the time of Resurrection Sunday.
I was a freshman in Bible college.
I was also clinically depressed, struggling with sin, school, finances, family, and friends. I wallowed in selfishness, loneliness, pity, and apathy. I was a thousand miles from home, living alone in a dorm room that increasingly felt like a prison cell.
For weeks I contemplated my life. Who am I? Why am I such a mess? Why am I failing? Where am I going?
The more I descended into “stinkin’ thinkin’,” the more I questioned my entire existence. Why am I here? What?s my purpose? Where is God? My life had never been easy. I grew up modestly poor with few breaks and little opportunity in a small Montana town. My dad was abusive. My mom an alcoholic. By age 12, I’d essentially been abandoned by both.
I masked my adolescent angst by ignoring it. Or I channeled my pain through perfectionism and busyness, as I felt my religion demanded. But in my darker moments, and there were many, I wondered if anyone truly cared. Would it matter if I lived or died? I often felt orphaned by life and love. Alone. Empty. Desperate.
Consequently, that spring, as I licked my wounds and pondered my pain, the night began to devour me. I was sad, lonely, and felt hopeless. My darkness was the proverbial “hound from hell,” a thorn in my flesh. I isolated myself. I sat and ate alone. In my darkened dorm room, I put on headphones and ignored knocks at the door.
One particularly dark, desperate day I finally reached my end.
I put in motion a terrible plan to end my life. I had the means (a hunting knife) and (I felt) the reasons.
It’s difficult to describe what happened next.
I started by putting God to the test. I arrived first in the cafeteria for the evening meal. The test was simple: If someone—anyone—joined me to eat, I wouldn’t commit suicide, but if not, this would be my last meal.
I went through the chow line, sat down, and began to eat.
I watched as peers, including many friends, dined at various nearby tables. I listened to their stories, jokes, theological discussions, and other light conversations, but for whatever reason, no one chose to eat with me.
No one noticed me.
Looking back, I suspect my friends had good reason. It wasn’t personal, only coincidental. But their inattention pushed me forward in the plan.
I slogged back to my dorm room, locked the door, closed the curtains, and turned on some music. I took my large hunting knife from its holster, drew red crosses on my wrists and, for the next several hours, once again, I contemplated my life. It was all coming down to this one moment.
My heart grew darker with the night’s weight.
It was time.
I said a prayer and lowered the blade to my wrist . . . and then it happened.
I woke up.
The bright morning sun pushed through the drawn drapes, directly into my eyes. The hunting knife lay on the floor. My wrists were still sketched in red ink. I was fully dressed. The only difference: I no longer desired to die.
Rather, I hungered to live.
God promised to carry my pain, loneliness, and sadness. He was resurrecting my life for his purposes and plan. I was valuable, chosen, desired . . . and loved. I felt like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life.
It’s a story I’ve judiciously told few people . . . until now.
Yet, I think it’s a necessary, relevant tale that might help someone else in similar circumstances. A life in ministry has its moments. It has disappointments and desperation, troubles and tragedies, choices and consequences.
This particular night was mine.
And I thank God every day he resurrected me from that moment.
I’m fully alive. I have purpose, joy, peace, and hope.
And so do you, my friend, so do you.
Dr. Rick Chromey is the founder and president of MANNA! Educational Services International (www.mannasolutions.org). He has empowered leaders to lead, teachers to teach, and parents to parent for more than three decades. He lives in Star, Idaho, with his wife, Linda.