In my library I have a collection of cartoons dealing with church life, faith, missionary activity, youth camp, and preaching the Word. The book is entiled "It Came From Beneath the Pew" by Rob Suggs. It became a part of my library in late 1989, and seemed to be the one highlight in a long, weary, and absymal year. We had lost our baby daughter that summer at the moment of her birth and, needless to say, it brought a great deal of tears, sorrow, and anxiety upon myself and my wife. The remainder of the year was a complete blur overrun with grief. I do not really recall how the book of cartoons came into my possession, but it was a great blessing in an otherwise horrid time. It got us to smile and laugh at some of the crazy things that go on in the lives and work of ministers, churches, families, and assorted scenes that helped to dry our tears and get us back on the road to some sense of normality.
One particualar cartoon stuck with me these past few decades. It shows a minister sitting up in bed with his pillow over his head, eyes wide open, and obviously nervous. Next to his side of the bed are pixies, the mythical creatures one might find in the land of Narnia or as a companion to a wandering Hobbit. One is whispering in the minister's ear, "And here's another great story..", "Oh, use this as an illustration!", "Here are some verses to use in your next point..". The other pixie has in his hands a notebook and pen (this was before any laptops or tablets, kids..) telling the minister, "Here you go, Pastor. Now write these down or you'll forget them in the morning!" The caption at the bottom of the drawing reads, "Another visit from the Late Night Sermon Pixies".
Okay, why does that along with a mix of Bible verses, stories, ideas, and what my oldest daughter refers to as "an encyclopedia of timely and trivial knowledge" stay within my mind ? It probably began when my Mom took me for my checkup when I had turned 2 years old. After examining and testing me, the pediatrician informed my parents that I would end up being an abstract thinker with multiple interests going on all at once in my mind. My behavior and methods of coping with it would be challenging and often much different than what most children would encounter in their developing years.
Dr. Morin's diagnosis was a nice way of breaking the news to my parents that I had what would be later defined as bipolar disorder, or manic depression. As time passed, my mood swings went from rapid thinking and activities one minute to wishing I could crawl under a rock and be forgotten the next. I went from estatic to moody in a second on numerous occasions. It started to get more frequent in my high school years and went untreated. I still managed to graduate from high school, college, seminary, and complete my post-graduate studies. I did my level best to have a loving relationship with my wife and children but was not always easy. My moods bordered on everything from bliss to rage. I never brought any physical harm to anyone, thank God, but my family came close to leaving me because of the depression and its variances.
When we moved to New Orleans in 1991, we began exploring the necessity of getting professional counseling along with a regimen of medications to keep me stable, and it has been successful for over a decade. If you're reading this and have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you know that getting the proper balance of medications is basically a pharmecutical crap-shoot until you get everything under some sense of control and establish a routine that gets you on the path to improvement and recovery.
My wife has asked me when I spin out a hundred different ideas for sermons, expositions of Scripture, or other ideas for ministry, with my mind going a hundred miles a second what the whole venture is like to me. The best explanation I have been able to give her and others is that it is like trying to look at numerous television screens and having to describe the details of every program at the same time. I believe this is a suitable definition of mania that I have lived with over the years. Mania can also be defined as a series of "racing thoughts" where your mind is filled with mutliple topics that come out of the blue with countless possibilities and ideas.
Now, here is where the cartoon connects with my frequent bouts of mania. I tend to get numerous varities of ideas, topics, and series that could be developed into a series of sermons I could write and then post on the websites to which I contribute. I will then let my wife know that the "Sermon Pixies" stopped by for a visit and a brief time of consultation. That goofy collection of cartoons was heaven-sent to us and has been our comedic "running gag" reresenting the times where I have quickly got out of bed in the middle of the night to write down ideas, outlines, or entire messages I know are not the products of imagination, but come from the Spirit of God, along with much study, research, and prayer, and a dependence on the Lord Jesus to help me communicate the truth of the Gospel through the internet and social media.
Our gracious and mericiful God created us as unique and original individuals. We are not automotons without free will or a desire for creativity. He has blessed some people with gifts and characteristics that may not be described as "normal" as we tend to define it. Men of God throughout the centuries have have gone through everything from physical ailments to periods of deep depression. No minister or any servant of Jesus Christ is "practically perfect in every way", as if they were a real world version of Mary Poppins.
Paul explained to the churches about the gifts and talents given to us by the LORD for the edification of the body of Christ (Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 12). The Bible is full of stories about patriarchs, prophets, kings, and commoners who thought that their quirks and traits could not be used by God. Surprise! His saving grace was on them as well as on you, my friend. You are not alone in this world.
The "Pixies" and their menagerie are old friends and have helped me be a better minister, a more thoughtful Christian, empathetic person, and has been used to help me understand the concept Jesus spoke of when He asked His followers to help those He called "the least of these". Weird is wonderful, especially when you are in the will of our gracious God and I'm living proof. I just thought I'd share this with you and I pray it blesses all who stop by and check this site out. I need to wind this up now. The Pixies need to get on the road and head out to California. It seems that John MacArthur is due a visit. Just kidding.