Challenged with bipolar disorder, I have had a lot of failure in my life. I have caused pain and have experienced a lot of pain as well. I have made decisions that have brought terrible consequence, both to me and to the ones I love. It has been very difficult for me to see myself being successful, because all I've really known is failure. When I wanted to think that I could be successful at my career, all I could see were my failures in that area, and that caused fear to arise in me. I wanted to hide, and I often reverted back to thoughts of suicide. When the desires began to come back of wanting to have a family, a house, a future, etc., all I could see was failure. It became so bad that I didn't even want to think about the future; it was hard enough to deal with the now. But one day God showed me a single scripture that would become what I refer to as my life scripture: "I will lead the blind by a path they do not know; in ways they have not known I will lead them. I will turn the darkness into light before them and I will make the crooked places straight. These things I will do and I will not forsake them" (Isaiah 42:16).
The revelation of this scripture verse didn't hit me right away, but over the course of time; God has enlightened me about this path that I am on. One thing that I have learned from this verse is that I am on a new path. I am not where I was. I am no longer on that path of failure, but here is where the challenge lies. Although I am on a new path, many times I feel like I am still on the old one. When I see the crooked places, I want to run. When I see the darkness, I want to hide. When I see familiar things on this new path, my natural reaction is to fall apart. But God is telling me that He will make these crooked places straight.
Now here is a good question: When will He make the crooked places straight and the dark places light? Is it before I get to them?
If He does these things before I even know that they are there, then I should be able to just stroll along through life and never see adversity, right?
Well, I believe that this question is answered in Scripture. When the people of Israel fled Egyptian bondage they came to the Red Sea (Exodus 14). The Red Sea didn't part until God was acknowledged. Later, when they came to the Jordan River at flood tide, the waters did not cease flowing until the priests stepped in (Joshua 3).
God says: "I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you" (Isaiah 43:2). God doesn't say if, but when. What would have happened if the people at the Red Sea and the Jordan River had never stepped into the waters? The answer, I believe, is that they never would have passed through; the waters would have never stopped flowing.
I believe that I can look at the crooked and dark places in one of two ways. I can see them as an obstacle for failure or as an opportunity for fulfillment. For me, with my challenge, this is a full time job. The crooked and dark places are ever before me. I cannot say that I am always approaching these with faith and boldness; but I can say that I am learning how to trust that God wants me to be successful. I cannot be successful if I run from these crooked and dark places. So now, when I come across something that reminds me of failure, I am learning to recognize that I am looking through the eyes of my past. But, I am on a new path; a path of success and not failure. "Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5,6).
Tyler Lindsey is a loving father, gifted musician, and attends the Bright Tomorrows Support Group.