My brother, Wade:
For me, writing is therapeutic. It’s an activity I’ve consistently engaged throughout my life, yet I’ve never been able to make a profession out of it. A lot of times when I write, the focus isn’t about attention for the content in and of itself. No, the writing is my way of working things out; pulling them from the inside and allowing them to flow externally. There’s something about writing that actually forces me to methodically and even prayerfully face my personal issues constructively and intentionally. I hope that makes some sort of sense, because there is purpose behind this letter to you.
I had an opportunity to watch the round-table discussion you participated in, alongside Lecrae, Tedashii, Ben, Sam and Shanti. Man, it was such a powerful discussion with a lot of great incite into what everyday people deal with on personal levels. It also highlighted the need (for me) for the body of Christ to really support one another, because you never know what folks are going through personally. Although we may look like we have it altogether on the outside, people are truly dealing with serious issues on the inside. You spoke about your struggles in constantly dealing with church-hurt; how it seems to keep happening to you. I think what really resonated with me, was when you followed up with, “Sometimes, it’s hard to get out of bed.”
Fam, that struggle is real. And what’s amazing about it, is I didn’t even realize I was numb to that reality within myself, until someone else admitted to having the same struggle. Wade, I’m a God-fearing husband, father and brother. I’m a deacon in my church; I read my Word constantly; stay prayed up; reach out to my brothers in need; teach the Discovery Rangers age-group of the Royal Rangers at my church; I use my God-given talents to write and create music. With all of that stated, I struggle with joy regularly. I know I’m supposed to be content knowing that my Salvation is intact, by the atoning work of Christ’s sacrifice. But brother, sometimes man…I find myself asking God, “Lord, what’s the point of all this? I’m not completely happy in my profession; we continue to struggle; I feel like I’m wasting the gifts you’ve given me, because I see no fruit; the older I get, the more I realize time is short. Did I miss a window of opportunity to do something great? What am I really doing here? Jesus, where are you?”
A couple of weeks ago, my church hosted a night-of-worship, on a Friday evening. Earlier that day, I went to work bitter over not being able to write anything within recent months. I’d had it out with God that morning. My attitude was literally like this:
“Okay, here’s the deal, Lord: since I can’t seem to find anything to write about lately and you don’t seem to want to give me anything, I quit. Right here, and right now. I’m done writing, period. It hasn’t made any difference, so maybe it was all just my dream anyway. If you want me to stick with it, for some unforeseen reason, then you’re gonna have to make it clear to me.”
And with that, I’d officially decided to put down my pen, figuratively speaking. That night, I went to church, for the night-of-worship celebration, without so much as a single word to my wife of what I’d said to the Lord. It wasn’t any of her business, as far as I was concerned. Brother, the atmosphere was truly Spirit-filled. Our worship team cranked out song after song, and the presence of the Holy Spirit was evident throughout the night. Shortly after, our lead pastor broke into prayer over the congregation and over folks who’d made their way to the alter. And then, he pointed at me. He found me, at my seat, three rows back from the alter and announced, “Wait a minute. I don’t normally do this; I don’t normally call people out personally. Brother Ennis, the Lord wants me to tell you, ‘Don’t quit on your gifts.’ Don’t quit, brother. Don’t quit. I don’t know what that means, but He knows you’ll understand.”
Dude. I lost it. My strength left me. I fell into my chair and let the tears flow free. God had just called me out. Wade, He spoke to me personally through my pastor. Seriously, what it looked like, was exactly what it was. The Lord had answered my gripe.
Despite that very personal miracle, each day is another choice for me to remember the promise and choose to get out of bed. I have to choose to remember the continued-blessings the Lord bestows on the Smith family daily. My marriage is strong; my wife and children are healthy. We have a roof over our heads; the bills are paid; the refrigerators are full; the cars are operational; the jobs are still providing and we have His favor in our lives. Each day, I have to choose to deny the desire for “more”: more stuff; more free time; more fun; more excitement; the superficial. Each day, I have to choose to remember there are people out there in the world going through serious issues. When I do, my personal gripes against life in general don’t seem so important anymore. I have to choose to remember He really is in control of everything.
So, what’s all of that got to do with you personally? Maybe nothing, Wade. Or just maybe, it has a little to do with you. I’ve followed your ministry for quite a few years; followed you over various social media platforms and even had the pleasure of holding a conversation with you over the phone, once. You’ve always been open in sharing your life experiences with your fans, whether good or bad, and it continues to set an example of the type of people we should try to be. Celebrity has a way of widening the gap between famous public figures and the average Jane/Joe. But, I think some folks find a way to speak to the average citizen simply by sharing their life experiences and intentionally reaching back every once in a while, to personally touch a life. The round-table discussion did that for me. It clicked something within, forcing me to consider what I struggle with deep down. Lecrae said something to the effect of folks misinterpreting James’ verse on “counting it all joy” when we face trials. I think he was right; I think…until you face something earth-shattering, whether it is extremely public or secretly private, you really won’t understand the significance of James 1:2. But, I believe God continues to use His people to help one another through trials, even when the far-reaching results of simply sharing testimony cannot be seen. Tedashii has no idea how many people he continues to speak to, by simply sharing his testimony. I hope that by being brave and continuing to share, healing continues to be perfected in the young brother’s life. Likewise for Shanti, Lecrae and yourself. I hope you all realize and recognize the Lord’s work through you all, by sharing your testimonies. You need to remember that for the days when getting out of bed in the morning seem like a Mount-Everest climb, brother.
Today, I slept late because there was nothing particularly exciting to wake up for. But, I got up, Wade. I got up, and I remembered that somewhere in the world, others might be struggling to grab hold of joy and rise out of bed, too. Why not let them know they’re not alone? Why not remind them, through whatever talent I have, that joy comes in the morning? You just have to choose to believe in it. And, it’s okay to let others know that the struggle they’re battling is real, but there exists strength in numbers. God doesn’t makes mistakes. I believe…what you may be going through can be used later as a ladder or bridge to help others hurdle the same thing. That’s the power in testimony.